Cutting Weight For BJJ Tournaments

Cutting Weight For BJJ Tournaments

1. Weight Cutting For BJJ

Cutting weight for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments or any combat is essential for competing in your desired weight category. Despite the importance of this factor, the weight cutting process is perceived incorrectly. Beginners without fully understanding the process and purpose of cutting try different unhealthy methods. There is a fundamental difference between “losing weight” and “cutting weight.” Let's explore it.

1.1. Losing weight

Losing weight is meant to reduce calories from your diet to cut fat from your body. A good fat loss plan comprises aesthetic goals for not to be bony and starved. The targets can be achieved by reducing caloric intake and incorporating high intensity interval training ( HIIT ) into your daily routine.

Medical practitioners share that cutting one pound of weight in a week is suitable for individuals. One pound of weight means the reduction of 500 calories in a standard caloric intake plan. So, losing 10 pounds will take a maximum of 10 weeks.

In the weight loss process, the water balance of the body may fluctuate, that is why normally a fat-burning plan recommends maximum water intake to stay hydrated and gives leverage to the process.

1.2. Cutting Weight

The cutting weight process aims to reduce the specific amount of water from your body through sweating and performing medium-intensity interval training. Carbohydrates, fats, and salts are reduced from the daily food plan.

Normally, bjj fighters adopt this weight-cutting process 10 days before the tournaments. In the last 3-5 days this process can be accelerated by focusing more on the sauna and following low-impact sweating activities to avoid any injuries. No carbs and salts at all.

The ultimate goal of the weight-cutting process is to be under the weight category before fueling yourself for the final preparation of BJJ. Fueling is important for your physical performance. Feuling a few hours before the competition will not give you maximum strength to fight. It requires at least 24 hours to show maximal output.

2. Reasons To Cut Weight For A BJJ Tournament

Under the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation ( IBJJF ) rules, weight classes range from under 127 lbs at Rooster to Ultra heavy starting from 221 lbs, and have no maximum weight limit. There is a difference of 15 lbs between each weight class.

The basic reason for the fighters to cut weight is the advantage of being at the larger end of the weight division. Wrestling, MMA, and BJJ are weight class sports. The more you are at the upper end of the weight division the more mass you can gain to win the fight.

Fighters go for weight cutting procedures just to drop on the weight scale to come to the upper limit of weight division. After this, fighters rehydrate and eat healthy and proper food to gain strength and power for the BJJ tournament.

The benefit of weight cutting is clear: you are competing against an opponent which is 5 to 10 pounds lighter than you. You are having an advantage on him in terms of weight and strength.

3. How to Cut Weight For A BJJ Tournament

If you desire to reduce 5-15 pounds of water weight from your body before the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament then the following plan may work for you. But remember, no weight cutting plan is the final plan. You can change the weight cutting plan according to your body requirements.

  1. Consume a moderate amount of salt and carbohydrates before three to five days of your weighing. Drink one gallon of water every day.
  2. When two days left for weigh-in, increase the amount of water to two gallons per day. Jump from moderate to less consumption of salt and carbohydrates.
  3. Stop water intake before one day. Now no salts, no carbs.
  4. Take Sauna baths for water cycling of your body
  5. On the weigh-in day much of the water is flushed out.
  6. Weigh-in
  7. Take electrolyte water to rehydrate yourself with some good amount of carbohydrates and an eight hours peaceful sleep.
  8. Compete.

4. Preferred foods For Weight Cutting

Following edibles are preferred to ensure less fiber, reduce the amount of carbs and maintain a minimum amount of sodium intake.

Foods Items
Protein/Meats Fish, Chicken, Eggs, Ribeye steak
Low Fiber/Low Carb Vegetables and Fruits Oranges, Apple, Asparagus, Beets, Tomatoes
Grains Brown rice/ Whole wheat bread
Snack Milk, Chocolate, Coffee with butter

4.1. Meal plan

Following sample can be followed to cut weight for the BJJ tournament.

Meal plan 1:

Coffee with 1 tbsp butter, 3 hard boiled eggs and Beet salad.

Meal plan 2:

Ribeye steak oven cooked or pan fried in butter. Asparagus with rice.

Meal plan 3:

½ Chocolate bar, 1 slice of brown bread with cashew butter.

Meal plan 4:

Steamed chicken thigh piece with canned tomatoes and rice.

Meal plan 5:

Salmon fish mayonnaise dressing and oranges.

4.2. Methods of Dehydration

Active Dehydration

Low and high intensity cardio, sauna baths, wearing sweat suits, and drilling are some of the leading methods of achieving active dehydration. Active dehydration expels water from your body via extracellular fluid.

Passive Dehydration

According to your body type, stamina and current diet plan, if conserving energy suits you best then opt for passive dehydration. It tends to remove water from all body parts. Following is the method for passive dehydration:

  1. Sit in a hot water tub for 10-20 minutes having a temperature around 103-106’ fahrenheit .
  2. Come out and dry off to check weight.
  3. Wrap your whole body with a robe or a towel. This will cause sweating. Lay down until sweating stops.
  4. Repeat.

5. Should I Cut Weight for BJJ?

The answer to this question depends upon the nature, class, and weigh-in time of your tournament.

5.1. Cutting Weight For Your First BJJ Tournament

If you are going to fight in your first BJJ tournament then focus on your game plan and techniques rather than stressing out for weight cutting even if you have enough time to cut weight easily. Make your preferences and priorities straight.

Eat light and energetic food. Edibles loaded in carbs and fats have excess salts which increase food mass and the amount of water in your body.

If you are fighting in a gi tournament, you must check your weight with Gi and belt on. This aspect of weight cutting is often overlooked.

5.2. Cutting Weight for Super fights

Super fights consist of 1 on 1 single match. Traditionally, you have to fight one known opponent in a single match. At this stage weight cutting is essential because you are experienced enough for super fights.

5.3. Cutting Weight for Higher Level Tournaments

Tournaments like ADCC is worth cutting weight for. At the most expert level, you are likely to follow one weight cut plan under your belt.

By this time, nothing is new for you. You have enough understanding of your body requirements well and can decide exactly how much weight is required to cut.

6. Negative Effects of Cutting Weight

No doubt, weight cutting is essential and beneficial for fighters. The weight cutting process may come with some pitfalls like:

Cutting weight felt like a nightmare

When you restrict your body from carbohydrates, sodium, and water to cut weight, the cravings for food and water are sometimes hard to manage. A quantity of water is drained from your body in the form of sweat during exercises. In this situation, the weight cutting process sucks and seems impossible to execute.

Cutting weight affects the athletic performance of the body

Weight Cutting requires strategic planning for achieving desired results. During the competition, if you are 10+ pounds less fed and dehydrated then you won't be able to perform well. Even the carefully planned food and water intake can give you a maximum of 90-95% energy.

Giant In a lower weight division

Brazilian Jiu-JItsu philosophy is to defend yourself from massive opponents. Sometimes in the BJJ tournaments, skillful, smaller, and lighter weight fighters give a tough time to heavier and stronger opponents. If this happens, what else is the purpose of cutting weight?

7. Weight Cutting For BJJ: Good or Bad?

Cutting weight in less time can be hazardous for your health. If done regularly it may cause mild fatigue, weakness, or illness and if done in the short term, it may drain your energy and strength for the BJJ tournaments.

Low carb diet is considered the most effective procedure for weight cutting.According to nutritionist Jordan Syatt, the three ways to cut weight safely include:

Lose weight in 3-4 months

Or in 1-2 weeks

Or use a combination of both ways.

You can speed up the weight cut program as the BJJ tournament draws near.

When following a gradual approach to cutting weight for BJJ tournaments try to increase protein intake. Go for higher carb and fat intake during high intensity interval training and low carb and fat intake during rest days.

A safe caloric deficit plan is essential for weight cutting. The goal is to have sustainable energy even with a lower intake of carbohydrates, fats, salts, and fiber. 

Keep yourself hydrated during the weight cutting program. Manage your fluid intake carefully before weigh-in. The idea to increase fluid intake and then reduce it before weigh-in will not cause your body to be stressed for a long time.

8. Weight Cutting Plan of Fighter

Mickey gall adopted the following weight cutting plan for UFC Fight Night 135

Starting weight: 188

Ideal starting weight: 180-184

Weigh-in procedure: 32 to 34 hour weigh-in

Fight weight: 171

(5 days before weigh-in)
Gut Content Elimination Glycogen Depletion Sodium Elimination Water Intake
Sunday Low fiber diet. Maximum 10g. 50 grams of Carbohydrates Normal intake of sodium 2.5 to 3 Gallons of water
Monday Not more than 10g of fiber Maximum 50 grams of carbohydrates Normal amount of sodium 2.5 to 3 Gallons of water
Tuesday Least amount of fiber 0 to 3g Low carbs, No more than 50g of carbohydrates. No sodium 2.5 to 3 Gallons of water
Wednesday 0-3g of fiber Low carb diet. Up to 50 grams No Sodium 2.5 to 3 Gallons of water
Thursday 0-3g of fiber Carbs no more than 50g No sodium 3- 3.5 oz of water
Friday If underweight consumes a small amount of food
Saturday If overweight consumes nothing before you weigh-in

8.1. Fueling with Food and Water

After weighing-in, replenish your body with food and water. Follow these guidelines.

  1. Immediately hydrate yourself with 20 oz of electrolytes water.
  2. Next, within 30 minutes drink a protein shake and snacks. Snacks have a good amount of carbohydrates and salt.
  3. After every hour drink a maximum of 32 oz of water.
  4. Stop water intake three to four hours before bedtime to avoid sleep disturbance.
  5. Eat carbs until 4-5 hours before the fight.

9. Common Weight Cutting Mistakes

Here are some common weight cutting mistakes that may negatively affect your weight cutting plans for the BJJ tournament.

Commercial/soft drinks

Commercial sports drinks are full of sugary flavors and gasses. They are not the healthy choice in the weight cutting process. It's better to skip such drinks during weight cutting for BJJ tournaments.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables contain lots of fiber. Fueling your gut with a large amount of fiber so that it feels full is not an appropriate strategy for weight cutting. Instead, it goes well if you attempt weight loss. Weight loss is a long term and slow process while weight cutting is a short term, quick process. Fibers stay in the intestine for a long time resulting in a dead weight in the weight cutting process.

Healthy Breakfast

No doubt eggs are a rich source of proteins. However, do not forget when having your breakfasts in hotels, how much salt is used by chefs to make your meals savory for your taste buds.

Airplane Meals

When traveling to far places for competitions avoid airplane meals.

Dehydration timing

Dehydration of your body before weigh-ins can cut your body weight but you have to face serious consequences if you fail to manage well. If you have not carefully rehydrated yourself, It may affect your performance levels during the competition.

10. What Happens When Weight Cutting Goes Wrong?

Professional fighters attempt weight cutting procedures frequently. Especially in MMA, this practice is very common but some drastic incidents are also reported related to weight cutting.

10.1. Sijara Eubanks

The most drastic case was of the Sijara Eubanks. She attempted a weight cut three times for The Ultimate Fighter 26 and one time for the Flyweight title. Due to extreme dehydration, her kidney failed. Sijara was excluded from the event and she lost the opportunity to win the title. So refrain yourself from any sort of extreme shortcuts.

10.2. Craig White

Craig White attempted to cut weight for UFC 130. Craig’s 14 days caloric deficit plan to lose 46 lbs by cutting 600 calories per day was not fruitful. He lost his fight in the first round due to low performance.

10.3. Renan Barao

Renan Barao failed to fight in UFC 177 due to a weight cut that created some medical issues. He fainted during weight cut procedures, fell down and got an injury on his head. He was then dropped from the event.

11. Summary

There is a difference between losing and cutting weight for the BJJ tournament. Do not follow the plans without calculating the nutritional values of weight cutting meal plans. Be aware of the ratio of required caloric deficit so that it can only positively affect your performance levels in the events.

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