Fighters, how do you cut weight?

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289 Posts
Jan 16, 2014 7:29am


I currently weigh 69kg and my coach wants me to drop to 65kg so I can fight as a featherweight. I'm not sure I can physically drop that much. Are there any fighters out there who've managed to do similar? How could I go about dropping 4kg when I'm so light already? And how could I do this without loosing muscle mass also?


376 Posts
Jan 16, 2014 10:03am

Yeah, DJ... If we're talking about BJJ competition (where usually you weigh in right before you fight) my advice is train and compete at your natural weight, with big boys. Then you get on the mat, with your technique you realize you can rag doll the guys in your bracket because you're so used to playing David (no pun intended) with these Goliaths.

If we're talking MMA though... I'll share the proper method with you, my friend. You're actually right where you need to be to make weight (within 4kg or 8.82lbs)

Here we go, bro!

Cutting weight smart for competition





Dropping weight fast is all about manipulating your water and sodium levels.


For a fighter who wants to cut weight quickly and safely, here’s how much water he would consume in the 5 days leading up to his weigh-in (if the fight is on Saturday and weigh-in on Friday)


Sunday – 2 gallons

Monday – 1 gallon

Tuesday – 1 gallon

Wednesday – .5 gallons

Thursday – .25 gallons

Friday – No water till after weigh-in at 5PM.


As you can see, the amount of water starts high with two gallons and decreases with each day till he’s drinking hardly any water on Thursday and Friday.


This is to ensure their body gets into “flushing mode.”


By drinking lots of water early on, the fighter’s body will down-regulate aldosterone, a hormone that acts to conserve sodium and secrete potassium. You know this stuff, Doc.


And when he suddenly reduces the amount of water he drinks in the middle and end of the week, his body will still be in flushing mode, meaning he’ll hit the bathroom to pee a lot even though he’s hardly drinking any water.


What happens when you excrete more fluid than you take in? Bingo! Rapid weight loss, D.


I want to start this off by saying that the most important thing for success is proper planning, starting months ahead of time and most of all – food & beverage discipline! If you can keep our training weight within 8 or 9 pounds of your competition weight, making weight will be easy with the plan outlined below. Also, if you stay within 8 pounds of our competition weight and weigh-in the night prior, by competition time the next day, you will be back to your normal training weight.


I want to start this off by listing some examples of things guys do that are NOT SMART!


1. DO NOT Attempt to drop 13 pounds of water weight in 1 day via sweat bags, sauna, diuretics and 24 hour Hollywood diet in a bottle! 


2. DO NOT Attempt to drop 11 pounds of water in 3 days by starving, dehydrating and spitting yourself to near death! Better, but not a good decision!



3. DO NOT Attempt to drop 8 pounds of water in 2 days by doing crazy cardio for 3 days, starving, dehydrating, spitting, sauna and sweat bags. Terrible idea!



Here’s What We've Found to Work Successfully:


Check your weight every day at the same time. This is the only accurate way that you can keep tabs on your weight (check it daily, at the same time, on the same scale, wearing your same birthday suit.)


By checking your weight daily, you have an idea of the amount you are eating, your activity level and the effect all of this has on your body. With these things in mind, it will be easier for you to drop those last few pounds over a period of 5-7 days by performing simple math and adjusting your water intake.


During the 5-7 days prior to your contest, you will be in recovery mode. Because of this, your body will not be burning near the same amount of carbohydrates/muscle glycogen as it normally would from training. When the body is resting, it produces 60% of its energy from fat stores. What does this mean to us?

We can reduce our carbohydrate intake (not eliminate) to manipulate our body weight.

Keep our quick-digesting protein (chicken, eggs, ground turkey, protein powder) intake the same. At this time, we should stop eating things that our bodies struggle with digesting such as red meat.

Slightly increase our good fat intake (not saturated, or Trans fats) since this is what our body will primarily be using for energy over the next 5-7 days.

Increase our water intake to (2) gallons a day!!

The human body is made up of roughly 70% water. With that being said, if we pump our bodies with around 2 gallons or so of water for a few days straight, it will get used to processing it rapidly, resulting in rapid water shedding.


This is What We Want


The night prior to weigh-in, you will stop drinking water around 1700 and the only water you will drink will have protein powder in it (4-6 ounces at a time). What we are doing is tricking our body. It was so used to you pounding water that it will keep processing it at the same speed for the next 24 hours resulting in your getting rid of your water weight and not feeling like shit!


About 3,500 calories equals one pound of body weight. Knowing this we can cut our amount of carbs down by say 500-700 calories a day (for example, 1 cup of cooked brown rice is roughly 430 calories) for the 5-7 days prior to weigh-in. This example results in roughly 3,500-4900 calories of carbs out of your diet which equals 1-1.5 pounds


The night prior to weigh-in, I also recommend you take dandelion. This herb can be bought nearly anywhere and is a natural diuretic. Take (2) with dinner the night before weigh-in and (2) in the morning with breakfast, it gives you the little extra push and reduces the water weight you need to lose.


On the day of weigh-in judging on your bodyweight in the morning, you should still be able to eat a reasonable breakfast and a very moderate lunch. Remember, you will not be drinking extra water at this time. The only water you will take in will be with protein powder and once again, it is based on your current bodyweight.


Have a sauna suit and a sweat shirt ready for the last few hours before weigh-in. If you are off weight slightly, you will be able to put them on and start walking either outside or in a gym until you start sweating. Like that you can lose a pound in about 20 minutes.


Immediate Nutrition Plan for Post Weigh-In:


Drink a quick-digesting protein shake (whey protein isolate) along with Waxy Maize . Mix these two ingredients in a 1:2 ration (1 protein to 2 carbs). The idea is to quickly replenish glycogen and amino acids in your body.

1 Banana

1 cooked potato (eat it like an apple)


Continue to replenish with normal food from your diet the rest of the night and morning of contest.

We have used this method repeatedly (my team) and found it very effective. The bottom line is that you have to know your body and do what works for you. I think that this approach is smart because it allows you to train and compete at the same weight, and you are still eating solid food through the afternoon of weigh-in day.




Since one gram of carbohydrate pulls 2.7 grams of water into the body, it’s important for fighters to keep their carb intake low.


By doing this, they also deplete muscle glycogen (a source of energy) and keep their body in “flush mode”.




These are carbs that should be avoided entirely while cutting.




Fighters have to eat something. Since they’re avoiding carbs, Our team doctor advises us to load up on high-quality protein like meats, eggs or a vegetarian sources of protein. It’s also the perfect opportunity to eat lots of leafy vegetables (like spinach) and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower).




Since the body likes to hold on to sodium (which will hold on to water), dropping salt helps the fighter’s body flush water out.




This step isn’t always necessary, but it can help when you’re getting down to the wire and still need to lose water. Opt for a natural diuretic like dandelion root, but wait until the last 2 days to use it.




We sweat a lot in hot environments. However, we sweat the most in hot, humid environments. Since hot water offers both heat and 100% humidity, fighters lose water quickly by taking hot baths and fully submerging everything but their nose for 10 minutes at a time.




This is the “finishing touch” to flush the last few pounds of water and is only used on the last few days leading up to the weigh-in. If necessary.


So if we take all of that and break it into a weekly plan, it looks like this:




Carbs: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starches, or sugars.

Protein and Fat: As much as you want in 3 meals

Water: 2 gallons

Salt: None




Carbs: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starches, or sugars.

Protein and Fat: As much as you want in 3 meals

Water: 1 gallon

Salt: None




Carbs: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starches, or sugars.

Protein and Fat: As much as you want in 3 meals

Water: 1 gallon

Salt: None




Carbs: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starches, or sugars.

Protein and Fat: As much as you want in 3 meals

Water: 0.5 gallon

Salt: None

Sauna in afternoon




Carbs: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starches, or sugars.

Protein and Fat: As much as you want in 3 meals

Water: 0.25 gallon

Salt: None

Sauna in afternoon for 30 minutes, hot water bath at night




Carbs: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starches, or sugars.

Protein and Fat: Eat 2 very small meals until weigh in

Water: None till weigh-in

Salt: None

Sauna until weight is met




So what to do next? Gain as much weight as humanly possible in 24 hours.


Here’s how we do it.



The body can absorb only about 1 liter (2.2 pounds) of fluid – at maximum – in an hour. So then you Sip (not gulp) 1 liter (2.2 pounds) of water per hour.


However, the fighters won’t retain all that fluid. In fact, probably about 25% of it will be lost as urine.


So as soon as you step off the scale, you literally slams a liter of water and carry the bottle around with you, refilling it and draining it every hour until 3 hours before his fight. (There isn’t a bathroom in the cage.)




Now’s also the time for fighters to load up on carbs and pull all the water they’re drinking back into their muscles. It also helps them feel more human and look less sickly.


Eat a big meal directly after they weigh in. Don't restrict calories – eat as much as you want in that meal as long as it’s healthy food like lean meats, sweet potatoes, rice, and vegetables. (Gorging on junk food is a bad idea.)


Then on Saturday (fight day), eat a satisfying amount of healthy food in a few small meals leading up to the fight.




Since sodium helps the body retain water, fighters are encouraged to add extra salt to their meals at this time.


The second you get off the scale, begin drinking a Pedialyte. Don’t chug it because it will probably make you sick, but also don’t sip too slowly. Pedialyte will help to get the electrolytes back in your system. Aim to finish the bottle in fifteen minutes. Next consume the saltiest thing you can stomach. I know a guy who puts packets of salt in the Pedialyte. Have something like a sub sandwhich because of the high sodium content in the lunch meat. Don’t go crazy and eat something your body isn’t used to after dieting for a meet. After this, begin sipping on either another Pedialyte or a Gatorade. If you cut less than 4-5 pounds, do half Pedialyte and half water (Gatorade can also be used here, though it’s not as effective at Pedialyte). Consume at a little slower pace than the first pedialyte, because you’re likely to begin feeling full at this point.  


Next thing to consider is your creatine. Begin to re-up your creatine stores the night before weigh-in because it won’t make you hold much water within 12 hours. With the Kre-Alkalyn, you take 6mg the night before, 6mg upon waking the day of weigh-in, then 6mg after that. This could be overkill, but you want to make sure you're getting as much back in your system as possible. If I were doing monohydrate, I would do 10mg the night before, 10mg morning of, and 10mg after the weigh-in.




Carbs: Eat as much as you want in one meal after weigh-in and testing

Protein and Fat: Eat as much as you want in one meal after weigh-in and testing

Rehydration Beverage: Drink 1 liter of water mixed with 1/2 scoop of carbohydrate/protein drink for every hour you’re awake. 

Salt: Salt food




Carbs: Eat satisfying amount in four meals before weigh-in

Protein: Eat satisfying amount in four meals before weigh-in

Rehydration Beverage: Drink 1 liter of water mixed with 1/2 scoop of carbohydrate/protein drink for every hour you’re awake but stop 3 hours before the fight.

There it is, my man! Tried, tested and true. You can train at your natural weight, make weight for the fight and feel great stepping into the cage with this plan.

Knock 'em out or make 'em tap!

16 Jan
Really appreciate the time you've put into this. Thanks so much :-)
16 Jan
I'm glad I can help, bro!
18 Jan
Wow I'm going to have to write all this down and follow it close I'm new to MMA/BJJ and this looks like my MMA bible :p
18 Jan
OSS! I hope it helps you too, Dan!
376 Posts
Feb 5, 2015 7:27am

I'm making the cut right now for Nationals. Weight-in is the day before and for a change I decided to compete in a lighter class. It's brutal. Those last couple of pounds, the sauna and hot baths. It all works just like I said though... Tried, tested and True.


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