Monday, April 23, 2012

Weight Cutting Strategies for Grappling Tournaments

Weight Loss vs Weight Cutting

Weight loss is when a person burns calories which leads to losing fat and body weight. Weight loss is important for people who are overweight or obese in order to improve their health. Weight loss takes a long time because a person can only burn half a pound of fat per day maximum. If you try to burn more than half a pound of fat per day, instead you will burn muscle. If you are competing in BJJ tournaments it can be helpful to lose weight in order to drop weight classes. This strategy take weeks or months to drop a weight class.

man wearing a sauna suit
Man wearing a sauna suit.
Weight cutting is when a person who is competing in a sport that requires weigh ins loses a significant amount of water weight in order to make a lower weight category. It is very common in wresting, MMA, and grappling tournaments to employ weight cutting. The amount of weight you can cut is proportional to your normal body weight, for example a person who ways 200 lbs can cut more weight than a person who weighs 100 lbs because they have more water to lose. Excessive weight cutting can be very dangerous, consult a doctor before attempting to cut weight. 

Weight cutting is a short term strategy that is done during the week before a tournament. I have cut up to 10 pounds of water weight before a weigh in. Keep in mind the more water weight you cut, the more unpleasant the experience will be and the more dangerous it is. The extreme dehydration can also hurt your performance in your competition if you do not have sufficient time to recover.

Weight Cutting Strategies

Water and Salt Intake

Drink a lot of water, around two gallons, and plenty of salt during the week before you weigh in. Starting 3 days before your weigh in cut back your water intake to only what is necessary, perhaps a few cups, and avoid all salt and sodium. On the day of your weigh in you should only take a few sips of water and still no salt.

Food Intake

During the week before your tournament you should not eat any carbs except in fruit and vegetables. Eliminate foods such as bread, rice, grain, potatoes, corn and any flour product. These foods will cause you to bloat up and retain weight. Starting around three days before your weigh in you should limit your calorie intake as much as possible. I generally eat around 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day right before weigh ins. Day of you should have as little food as possible.

Additional Weight Cutting Options

If you haven't quite made it to your goal weight, there are a few last minute water cutting options. Put on a sweat suit and use an exercise bike on low intensity. Be careful not to tire yourself out too much. You can also wear a sweat suit use a sauna to force you to sweat. Staying in a sauna too long can also tire you out and hurt performance. Another strategy is to chew gum and spit to drop water weight. Spitting has limited effectiveness. Another option is to take an epsom salt bath to draw the water out of you.

Recovering after Weigh In

After you weigh in you will need to recover from dehydration. You will need to replenish your liquids. It is important to do this slowly. Sip a recovery drink such as gatorade or pedialyte. Eat food slowly to replenish your energy, I recommend fruits and nuts. Don't eat too quickly or too much. Remember, the more weight you cut, the longer it will take you to recover. Think hard about how much weight you can cut based on how long before you compete you will be weighing in. Is it the night before, 3 hours before or 5 minutes before. The amount of time before the competition will affect how much water weigh you can drop.


Remember to be careful if you decide to employ any weight cutting. If done irresponsibly it can be dangerous and hurt your performance.

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