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A Fighter’s Guide to Weight Cutting – Part One

Author : Jamie Hughes
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FightLockdown's Jamie Hughes takes us through his guide for cutting weight effectively. Having competed in MMA, BJJ and Muay Thai, Jamie knows how important effective weight cutting can be in the fight game, and shares his tips and tricks with you in this article, the first in what should prove to be an interesting series...

 

So you have a fight coming up - it may be MMA, BJJ, Muay Thai or Boxing - and you step on the scales to find that you are a fair amount over your target weight. With adequate time to prepare your weight cut in the right way you have no reason to worry, as it will make the process a whole lot easier.

It’s time to plan. For MMA fights I advise a five or six week process of getting down to your target weight, but for BJJ it can be done in four weeks. For this example I will go through the process I use when cutting for MMA.

(To give you some sense of perspective on the amounts I am eating and drinking leading up to a fight, I am 6 feet 7 inches tall and walk around at 190lbs. In MMA I compete at 170lbs and in BJJ I compete at 175lbs.)

For the first two to three weeks we have the easy part - cut out all of the junk food and clean your diet up. That means no more cakes, pizzas or takeaways.

Here is an example of meal plan for a day in the first two to three weeks of the cut:

Breakfast
Bran flakes with skimmed milk or porridge made with water or skimmed milk.
One piece of fruit (apple/banana/grapes).

Snack
Handful of mixed fruit and nuts.
One piece of fruit.

Lunch
Two chicken breasts or a piece of fish (haddock or cod), sweet potato (two or three), some mixed vegetables.

Pre Training Snack
Low fat cereal bar/some mixed fruit and nuts/natural yoghurt.

Post Training Snack
Protein shake or a homemade salad.

Advisable extra nutrition
• Dissolvable vitamin C tablets 
• Glutamine and BCAA tablets
• Multivitamins

After sticking to this portion of the diet you should ideally be within 12-15 pounds of your target weight with a week to go before fight time. From this point on it is all about discipline and being prepared to be a grumpy, short tempered, SOB for a week!

I’m not going to lie to you - the last week is hard. This is where we start the process of carbohydrate depletion, which I have found works very well to get rid of those last few pounds. It is also the start of water loading, which is another vital and useful tool in getting down to your fight weight.

Here is an example of my food intake for a day during the final week:

Breakfast
50 grams of porridge made with water.

Snack 
Half of a banana or apple. 

Lunch
Two chicken breasts or a piece of fish (haddock or cod), some mixed vegetables.

Pre-Training Snack 
Natural Yoghurt.

Post Training Snack 
Protein shake or a homemade salad.

Advisable extra nutrition
• Dissolvable vitamin C tablets 
• Glutamine and BCAA tablets
• Multivitamins

I know this is not a lot, but it is enough to keep you going through the final week. Now we have water loading; this is the method and amount of water you should be drinking a week before the fight.

3-7 days until weigh-in: 8 litres per day.

2 days until weigh-in: 4 litres per day.

Day before weigh-in: no water for 12-24 hours, depending on whether you have a day before or on the day weigh-in.

Useful tips for the last week
• Half a glass of warm water with a teaspoon full of glycerine the night before weigh-ins to ensure your muscles don’t cramp up.
• Remember, you need to be getting a lot of protein in your body due to the lack of carbohydrates--if you need that extra protein shake, have it.
• Find ways to occupy yourself in the last few days so that you don’t think about food or being thirsty--get on your Xbox or watch some movies.
• Keep a weight loss progression chart to track your weight loss; this can be a real motivator to stick to your diet.
• Weigh yourself early in the morning after you go to the toilet, as it is the lightest you will be during the day and will give the best indication of your true weight.
• Don’t panic if you’re still over the day before the water restriction. The excess water in your system will make you heavier, but this will fall off in the final 24 hours.
• Water retention tablets such as HRI water balance can help draw the excess water retention out of your body if you are struggling with the last few pounds--a very helpful tool.

So you’re all set to make your way from your walking around weight down to the shredded beast you will be on the scales.

In the next part I will highlight some helpful tips for after you have weighed in, and how to get the weight back on in time for the big fight.

Happy dieting.