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A fighter's weight is directly affected by the calories consumed throughout the day. To lose weight, there must be a deficit in calories consumed compared to calories expended. To find out how many calories are needed to cut out of their diets, fighters monitor their intake closely. In order to lose one pound of fat you would need to burn 3, calories.
An effective way to do that safely is to cut calories from your diet each day, according to the National Institutes of Health. With that method, you would lose about 1 pound per week. Another method fighters use to decrease weight is to sweat out fluid, which is a temporary weight loss effect that can be useful before a weigh-in.
This can be done by running, jumping rope, and cardiovascular circuits that involve the techniques used in a fight. In addition, athletes commonly use plastic suits and heavy clothing to increase their body temperature. A sauna can also be a powerful tool for sweating out water weight. These methods should be monitored to prevent overheating. Athletes can actually die or risk permanent injury by abusing these practices.
Your body is constantly losing fluid through breathing, sweating and urination. Restricting fluid intake can help a fighter lose up to five or six pounds in 24 hours.
The athlete begins by consuming 2 gallons of water a day for the first three days before a weigh-in. The increased intake of water triggers the body to excrete more urine than usual. The day before the actual weigh in, the fighter cuts the fluid intake down to minimum, restricting himself to simple sips throughout the day, and he also cuts out sodium from the diet. It should be noted that the fluid consumption is cut back, but the body is not deprived completely. To do so could damage the fighter's health.
The final component in weight loss is training. MMA fighters do sport-specific training that engages the larger muscle groups such as the legs and the back. My eyes are rolled back into my head. My entire body feels like a giant heartbeat. In the sauna I watch beads of sweat collect on my skin. I spend the last 30 minutes before the weigh-in in the sauna and drink four sips of water throughout the entire day…. While the fighters are tested in competition, no one has ever really documented how much strength or power they lose by dehydrating.
Or how much strength and power they regain after they get all their weight back. And it turns out, losing 20 pounds in 5 days is not conducive to being strong, powerful, or agile. Which is obvious from my less-than-stellar performance in the gym. So what do they do next? They gain as much weight as humanly possible in 24 hours. Berardi, the body can absorb only about 1 liter 2.
So he advises the fighters he works with to not to drink any more than that. Instead, he tells them to sip 1 liter 2. So as soon as Georges steps off the scale, he literally slams a liter of water and carries the bottle around with him, refilling it and draining it every hour until 3 hours before his fight.
It also helps them feel more human and look less sickly. Something I definitely experienced during my super-hydration phase. Berardi has his fighters eat a big meal directly after they weigh in.
Gorging on junk food is a bad idea. Then on Saturday fight day , Dr. Berardi has his fighters 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. 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: We used Surge Workout Fuel.
Eat satisfying amount in four meals before weigh-in Protein: Eat satisfying amount in four meals before weigh-in Rehydration Beverage: And I totally annihilated my performance numbers from just 24 hours before when I was sickly and dehydrated. If you have questions, please put them in the comments and Dr. Berardi and I will do our best to answer them. For more about Nate and his writing, check out his blog.
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Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration. I know a lot of high school wrestlers try to do the same thing. They usually go about the process the wrong way, and end up doing bad things to their body. Like Liked by 2 people. High school wrestlers typically only have a few hours between weigh-ins and competition. Even though that is true. Many highschool wrestlers tend to cut pounds.
Starting a week or just a few days before competition. Like Liked by 1 person. Yep, I second the other comment here. Some sports have mat-side weigh-ins. Others are just given a few hours after weigh-in to replenish. Would you recommend an mma athlete doing any sort of cardio or excersize to help keep your cardio at tip top during this week?
Perhaps your last day being Wednesday or something? Keep in mind, the strategies outlined here are for adult athletes with years of weight manipulation experience, all monitored by a qualified coach. This is another difference between this protocol vs popular bodybuilding protocols. Is it ok to do cardio during the first 3 days? Is walking long distances OK? If not what kind of exercise is ok in the beginning phase?
It basically does the same thing as running at a much less intense level. One mile walked burns the same about of calories as one more jogged. Another reason to walk is that is saves money. I live in a big city and cut driving. I live 4 miles from work. I now either walk to the bus stop or if the weather is nice , I walk to work! I have more pounds to lose before the summer, however, so I really want to try this UFC diet.
I wrestled, this is a way to cut weight before weight ins to fight lighter weight classes. The point of a diet is to lose fat in order to improve your physique. And, of course, whether or not extreme weight manipulation is even necessary for that sport. Thanks for letting us take a look behind the scenes through the eyes of the fighter, the boxer, the mma fighter and other such athletes.
This always mind boggled me. Why not just fight as a heavy weight. So essentially these guys are fighting at their normal weight come fight day.
Which at times is significantly heavier than the weight class they are in. That would at least to me seem like cheating. A loop hole of some sort to gain advantage. At any rate weight manipulation is fascinating. My old roommate use to compete in some circuits so he was able to explain the whole behind the scenes cutting but nothing as extensive in comparison to this article.
Most bodybuilders will consume high volumes of water the week before the competition and taper just as was done in this example above while eliminating sodium intake as much as possible. Some bodybuilders will use diuretics at the same time or natural products a few days before to increase water excretion.
Many natural bodybuilders or fitness models will certain foods containing high volumes of water and also protein shakes due to excess water days out. Every individual is different, bodybuilding still a bit different as its body composition vs fighters who need to strip weight for a weigh in then can put it right back on. Good feedback…there are some major differences between this protocol and similar bodybuilding protocols.
In addition, they cut water in a specific way, to try to drive the fluid into their muscles and out of the subcutaneous space between the muscles and the skin. This helps them look leaner. Combine this leaner look with the fuller glycogen saturated muscles and the physique looks markedly different. So, again, totally different goals here. With some protocol differences too. I remember reading about Muhammad Ali taking Thyrolar to lose weight quickly but it seems to have weakened him severely.
Could it have contributed to his Parkinson? Interesting to see how fighters change methods over time and how it affects them in the long run.
Tim, will there be a colored version of 4-H Body someday like the 4-H Chef with nice photos, graphics and typography? The website that discusses this includes a photo of a young Ali. That was apparently his M. I do not believe he prescribed this medication simply for Ali to lose weight. I believe diuretics were used for that—very silly! Dundee and others have said that Ali was popping all kinds of pills.
He would never have defeated Holmes at this stage; however, Dundee did comment that Ali got in tremendous shape for this fight. I am guessing he got into muscular shape.
Holmes was at the top of his game. The only one I would have had trouble with was Jack Johnson. In my estimation, Ali was as clever at defense as Jack Johnson and had much better body movement, head movement, far quicker hands, and at least as much confidence. One can only make an educated guess.
I guess for Ali, even against the larger, very gifted Lennox Lewis. With a Ali moving, Lennox would have had trouble connecting squarely. Angelo Dundee says that Ali would have beaten Tyson. During the hours leading up to a fight, while an athlete is depleting water and glycogen, exercise should be kept to a minimum. Not only does the athlete need to recover from a hard training camp thus, taper off exercise so they can perform during their fight, they need to prevent excess stress.
Cutting weight is pretty stressful as it is. Like Liked by 3 people. My son was competing nationally and had to cut almost 20 pounds in 2 days… and he had to wrestle 3 hours after weigh in… he had two classes to wrestle in or — he though he was and just needed 10 pounds but when he stepped on the scale Wednesday night friday weigh in he was I think he did pretty good on the cutting weight part he could have drank more water earlier in the week but gaining it back along with his energy never really happened — he was done within 24 hours of weigh in….
I have a question, Nate. Which means I probably could have done a little better if I was completely fresh. Granted, no athlete would put himself through a workout while dehydrated the day before the fight. Just like taping your training for competition they approached the same concept with water intake doing the reverse order to rehydrate and draw water back into the muscle with sodium intake increaseed.
I mostly ate lots of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. And some leafy greens like spinach. How many grams of meat,chiken or fish can I eat in each meal,or during the day? Now I can start another DietBet with full knowledge of how to cut during the final week of crunch time before the final weigh in! The articles are fantastic and are full delightful information. Do you ever wonder how and if this type of transformation can affect a persons psychological role to be more or less aggressive in the ring?
In part, poor diet and overall lack of wellness practices follow this paradigm. AA community seems to suffer the unconscious and conscious mind issue that follows a perceived or real disenfranchisement. Lack of wellness and the lack of wellness practices is circularly related to depression as well as high infant mortality rates. But wellness practices beget wellness.
Most of us are victims of something, including our own brains, personalities, and proclivities. We have to work on awareness every day and do the right thing.
Jimmy, when reading this I saw or it seems you have a better and less time consuming and more comfortable weight loss system Ia m wrestling for high school and have about 5 days to make and walk around at and the wiegh-ins are mat side, which is hard for me because I am practically all muscle, It would be helpful if you give me as solution.
Thanks for the very informative post! I can see using this method or one very similar to this for bodybuilders who are preparing for a competition or a show.
The good part about it for the bodybuilders is that they are not actually trying to retain their strength, only their size and aesthetic physique. Also, there is no need to rush to gain back the weight the day after the show, that can be a more gradual process which could be healthier. As I posted above…there are some important differences between this protocol and similar bodybuilding protocols.
Big fan of the Bigger, Smaller, Bigger project. Showcases the resiliency and potential of the body. I appreciated the honest comments from your journal. The weight cutting felt appropriately unhealthy. Thank you for this post — people will be talking about your experience for a long time. I can appreciate that an athlete would do this for better performance…but yeah… not for me.
I love the way you systematically and scientifically take the weight out of the body and put it back in to gain maximum advantage of the rules. I do rock climbing and weight is very important in the reverse way.
We want to be as light as we can on competition day yet retain our strength to have the best strength to weight ratio. Especially when we are pulling our body weight with just our finger tips.
I enjoyed this glimpse of the science behind fighting. It should serve to jump start conversation when I watch the next UFC fight with my buddies. One thing i did note, i caught a cold within 2 days after the tournament. Could this be a coincidence?
I left my window open both nights after to catch the cool breeze March winter. The cumulative stress of training for a competition and then cutting pounds certainly does compromise the immune system. So does competition itself, for a few hours after the event. Then, when you stuff hundreds of people in an arena or auditorium, all sharing their bacteria and viruses with those compromised immune systems…so getting a cold is the very common. All big athletic events are like this: Actually, 1 US Gallon is 3.
Do you advise for someone who is 50lbs over weight and is quickly trying to lose weight to put this weight cut into practice? Person is very active trains days a week The individual has difficult time taking weight down and keeping it off. Only sticks to diets for weeks at best. Hey Stevo, absolutely not! All the weight loss is water weight and it all comes back pretty quickly.
Just a short term way of making a weight goal. And as a former fat person, I like not wondering what the scale will say in the morning. This way I know it will be no higher than x. What are your thoughts on ketosis for a more sustained weight loss effort, say over months and not days? If so, do you model food intake for your athletes on a particular approach? Everything we do is for water manipulation at that point.
For sustained fat loss we do things VERY differently. Although we have nothing against paleo. Some clients eat a more ancestral diet mostly proteins, fats, and veggies. And others eat more proteins, carbs, and veggies. My advice is to not using anything from this article for sustained weight loss.
The URL in the message board and the blog post are the same and I did try logging out and re-logging back into your system:. Hey guys, I love the bigger-smaller-bigger experiment. For the bulk up phase.. Or would you recommend lower rep power style lifting as well?
Truthfully, as Nate says in the Bigger Smaller Bigger book, training style is less important than nutrition for gaining muscle mass. There are dozens of ways to train to stimulate muscle mass, all of them effective. All of which we detail in BSB, if you want to revisit it. It always confused me how they look so much bigger than me, even though their weight is listed as being lower than mine. Now I know why!
How does this differ to what Mike Dolce does with his fighters? In the end, though, physiology is physiology. There are only so many ways to manipulate body water and weight. Nutrition related — The Dolce Diet — Living Lean — this highlights some of his weight cutting experiments. The other book is a cookbook. So they have two advantages: You can see there are a lot of variables here, though. For most athletes, all it takes is 24 hours.
Yep, for Nate it was a saturday weigh-in. But for a fighter it would be a saturday fight. I knew almost most athletes in weight-class based sports cut, but not to this extent. A fighter who has a more effective big-small-big protocol but an inferior skill set could definitely gain a huge advantage as mentioned. These may not be questions you Mr. Berardi can answer, but may spark some interesting discussion. Thanks for your time and suffering, Mr.
Good questions…it certainly does add an additional variable aside from skill. I think a weight class or two above might help eliminate some of the need to cut in every other weight class. I wondered how you could drop a large amount of weight in such a small time frame, now I know.
You hit the weight during weighing in. Then you gain as much weight in preparation for the fight. Question regarding weight cutting. Thanks for the feedback on the website, Ryan. How would you manage this weight cutting process in a safe manner minimising performance decreases if you were to weigh in hours before your fight.
Which is what they do in amateur boxing. As you mention, HS wrestlers also, many other grappling sport athletes , boxers, etc. Many of these sports have mat-side weigh-ins. This basically screws up your health and immune system in the long run to be sure.
Hope the UFC organizers change the rules so that they have a weigh in just prior to the fight. GSP would literally drink it. Thanks for the question. While caffeine is a mild diuretic, the effects of water and sodium manipulation are much more powerful.
I do however have a couple questions. You say each gram of carbs pulls in 2. Do have the figure for how much water each gram of water ulls into the body or is needed for digestion? And iif you can give those numbers for consumption, it would be great!
Thanks for the question here…when we say each gram of carbs holds on to 2. Likewise, when each gram of carb is depleted from the body, 2. Lose grams of carbohydrate from the body through exercise and a low carb diet, and close to grams of water disappear too.
I used to get a 3 pack of Boost in tetra pack form and just drink all 3 with the same straw without unwrapping the block of 3 immediately after getting off the scale. Since you are manipulating sodium levels, I thought there might be a difference. Distilled water has always seemed to have had a stronger flushing effect. Also could green tea or coffee be substituted for a portion of the water so long as the same totals are reached?
Or is the fluid to be completely limited to water? And cutting is stressful enough. If you win a fight, you have to fight the next day. So the tournament are often from wednesday to sunday and there is weight in every day! I cut weight from 73 kg to 67 kg its app 13 pounds. But i start 3 weeks before and loose the last 1 kg in sauna. The biggest example that comes to mind is Anthony Johnson. He would rag-doll guys because of the huge size advantage.
How does this apply to smaller fighters, like flyweights? Is the amount of water they are drinking less than a pound fighter? I am and needing to cut 6 pounds in five days. Any help is greatly appreciated! I used a similar strategy for a photo shoot a couple of years back, interesting to hear of the use of this strategy in a different context.
Have you done any tests to compare your strength after rehydration, with your strength at a natural weight of lbs? Test strength at this weight, compare it to your strength after your above rehydration? We tested this exact thing, Daryl. This was such an interesting article especially to note the strength levels not lost during this process.
Do you have a similar article with respect to bodybuilding as I did read that the process is similar but with important differences so as to not have water sit under skin but be ushered into the muscle bellies. Thank you so much for all of your responses. Hello, I am a teenager who competitively fights, and I was wondering if it would be the same procedure for someone around my age.
And if it is safe to cut weight for someone around the age of 16 — 18? After years of cutting, that number goes way up. I know some athletes who can do 35 pounds in a week! Would you recommend them over any other product? Firstly great article very interesting. Where you literally get weighed and the step on the mat…. The performance loss — and potential for heat exhaustion — is just too high. Just looking at the last weeks diet, its says no starches, what are good carbs to be taken that are non starchy?
I think Nate covered the details in the post above. If not, you can check out our complete account of these experiments over at http: Hey i was just wondering what the physical activity level was like during that five days? I ask because most guys doing this process would be in preparation for competition.
Wade, the activity was very low. Most guys getting ready for a UFC fight would should be in the same situation. Pro weightlifters take diuretics, often Lasix. Lasix is probably the most-dangerous of all the drugs athletes use, and has killed numerous bodybuilders. The main potentially-lethal drugs used by pro athletes are:
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