Yea, Yea, I know, there is a heavy use of the Instagram filter there to show off the definition due to some bad lighting (my apologies for that). But regardless of the shitty picture, there was a 8KG (17.6 lb) weight cut using the method I outline below between when I started the cut and when I finished the cut in 7 days.
This article is going to cover weight cutting for same-day weigh-ins. If you have a weigh-in the day before your flight, then you can use other methods to cut weight that is not mentioned in this article.
This guide will tell you how to easily and safely manipulate your water weight without too much effort before a fight and in a way that won’t kill your fight performance. Since the human body is made up of 50%-70% water weight, you can easily cut a number of kilos/lbs in both water and fat weight safely before a fight. In women, however, less weight can be cut due to the fact that they have more natural body fat than men; this means their bodies do NOT contain as much water as a man’s to drop.
Please keep in mind that this is my own experience of weight cutting. This is not medical advice and should only be taken as an opinion. Weight cutting can be dangerous if you lose too much weight. Fighters die every month from cutting too much weight, especially when they use methods like extreme dehydration in the sauna and running in a sweatsuit.
Why Do You Want To Cut Weight?
It’s pretty simple really: so you can have a strong advantage when you fight. If you walk around at say 185lbs but make a fight weight at 165lbs, you will strength advantage at 165lbs (since you will, in fact, be an 185-er fighting at 165). Now, say you fight at your walk-around weight of 185lbs. Well, if your opponent happens to walk around at 205lbs and cuts to 185lb, it’s likely he could have a huge strength advantage over you.
In reality, no sane fighter opts to fight at walk-around weight because the fighter’s opponent will be cutting anywhere from 5lbs to 50 lbs for the fight.
Do you feel like being a lightweight and fighting a cruiserweight or middleweight? Then you better learn how to cut weight.
The more you can cut weight without impacting your fight performance, the more of an advantage you have when you fight. If you are 160lbs and can cut to 136lbs, your weight cutting skills might mean you end up fighting guys who normally cut from 150 to 136. So the better at weight cutting you are, the more of an advantage you can achieve. That’s why weight cutting is a critical skill to master as a fighter.
The risk with cutting weight, of course, is you cut so much weight that your fight performance is impacted negatively.
Day of Fight Weigh-Ins vs. Day Before Fight Weigh-In’s
There is literally an entire science behind cutting weight for fights. Cutting weight is arguably just as important as your actual skill for winning a fight. If you can cut a lot of weight and still maintain your strength and endurance, you might just end up MUCH stronger than your opponent which could translate into a big real-world advantage in the fight. But if you fail to cut weight properly, your fight could be a disaster with you having no cardio and little strength.
If your weigh-in is a day before your flight, you can undertake more extreme weight-cutting methods. Basically, you can shed a shit-load more weight than if you have to weigh in the DAY of your fight. This is why you see some MMA fighters, Boxers, and Wrestlers who weigh-in 24 hours before the fight cut a monstrous amount of weight, with some guys losing upwards of 30-50 lbs in the 24 hours before a fight. Naturally, these guys end up on an IV drip afterward to recover, but such dramatic weight loss is possible if you have 24 hours before the flight, the discipline to torture yourself, and the Know-how. However, this sort of huge weight-loss chicanery can not be as drastic if you don’t have that 24 hours.
Weighing in the day before a fight is a separate topic that has a number of effective methods that can be used. The goal of this article is to give a weight cutting method that is easy, simple, and not too taxing on your body. Other weight cutting methods such as extreme calorie deficits, marathon saunas, and sweatsuit sessions are not going to be covered in this article.
My Experience Cutting Weight
Throughout my Muay Thai career I’ve had to cut weight for almost every fight. The largest weight cut I’ve had to do before a fight was going from 82kg all the way down to 74.5 kg in a single week. In order to lose almost 8 kg of weight, I used the following water weight-cutting methods coupled with an extreme caloric deficit and zero carb intake throughout that period.
Even I was able to make weight for the fight, this loss of weight and calorific deficit had disastrous results on my actual fight performance. Because it was an amateur fight, I had to fight the same day of the weigh-ins. This is one of the reasons I don’t recommend cutting too much weight if you have the weigh in on the day of the fight. If you have a weigh-in the day before a fight you can cut a lot more weight before your fight than if you weigh-in the same day.
The 5 Steps to Cut Weight – An Overview
- Lower your carb intake (one week prior to fight)
- Zero your salt intake and start drinking lots of water (5 days prior to fight)
- Don´t drink anything ONE DAY before the fight as you will urinate everything out
- Sweat the remaining water weight out if needed by sauna or by running with a sweatsuit on
- Optional: Caloric deficit (not necessary but helps you to lose even more weight).
Let’s get into the sweaty details…
How to Cut Weight One Week Before Your Fight
Assuming you start cutting 7 days before your flight, here is my method for cutting a lot of weight while still being able to train hard the WEEK of the fight. Keep in mind HOW much you can cut depends on a number of factors:
- your gender (men can cut more than women)
- your current weight (the heavier you are, the more you can cut)
- your current body fat (the lower bodyfat you walk around at, the MORE weight you can likely cut; sounds backward, but it’s true since muscle contains water while fat contains very little water. If you two guys are the same weight, one at 10 percent and one at 20 percent body fat, the guy with 10 percent has more muscle on his frame to suck water from)
- your genetics (some people can cut a lot of weight easily. Others not so much.)
It’s a good idea for you to do a TEST weight cut at some point before you do the real thing for a fight. This will give you an idea of how much weight you can actually lose and may allow you to tinker with the methods slightly for additional weight loss when you actually need to cut for a fight.
Day 1-6: Lower Carbohydrate Intake by Half
- Avoid starchy foods like pasta, rice, bread, etc
- Avoid fruits and sugar
One week prior to your weigh-in, lower your carbs to half your normal intake.
You should not go on a zero carb diet because you won’t have sufficient time to fill up your glycogen stores by the time you fight. However, lowering carb intake will allow you to shed water weight fast. Why? Because for every gram of carbohydrate you intake, your body will hold three grams of water weight to go with it. As an added “bonus” to dropping your carb intake, you may also lose some body fat by reducing your carb intake as IF you end up on a caloric deficit (this often happens when you lower carbs dramatically, as our modern meals are often built around carbs).
Another reason we don’t drop carbs out completely during this weight cut week: keeping some carbohydrates in your diet will allow you to continue training hard. Besides allowing you more time to work on your technique and cardio, being able to train hard will help maintain your confidence level, ensuring that you aren’t gassing out in training the week before your fight… There is nothing more disheartening than training that last week and finding you feel like you have WORSE cardio than you did before you started training for your fight. Fighters who go on a ZERO carb diet before a fight might lose the weight they need to lose for the fight, but they will often suffer in their training leading up to the fight.
DAY 2: Strategically Cut Out Salt
After two days of cutting your carb intake to half, you should then start to reduce your salt intake as well.
If the body gets too much sodium, it will retain water. However, if you cut out salt entirely the body might freak out and retain water. There is a bit of a balance when it comes to salt intake, and you need to see how your body responds. But generally, you keep sodium low and gradually keep reducing it the closer you get to your fight.
DAY 2: Increase Water Intake
About 5 days before the fight, start to drink lots of water.
By increasing water intake, you will flush out the salt – helping your water weight to drop naturally.
Note that some other cutting methods have fighters starving themselves of water the whole week before the fight; these methods are usually used if the weigh-in the DAY before the fight. But here we are talking about weigh-in’s the day of the fight. While it might seem a bit counter-intuitive to increase water intake since you are trying to CUT water weight, it works out fine because what we are doing is trying to flush out the salt from your body; this means the water you take in will flush right on out, and not be retained by the body as it NORMALLY would.
DAY 6-7: STOP Water Intake 24 HOURS BEFORE FIGHT/WEIGH-IN’S
Leading up to the day before your fight you stop drinking any liquids.
Since you have been drinking a lot of water leading up to this point, your body will be tricked into thinking that more water is going to be coming into your body. This process will cause you to use the bathroom (urinate) quite a bit, even though you aren’t drinking liquids the day before your fight – helping you lose even more water weight.
Note there are different methods regarding reducing water weight. Some people opt for cutting water weight from 2 gallons 5 days before a fight all the way down to one-quarter of a gallon the day before the weigh-in, then no water the day of the weigh-in. HOWEVER, reducing the water intake will affect your training performance IF you are training the week of your fight, especially if you are somewhere humid and hot like Thailand. And IF you fight the day of your weigh-in’s rather than the day AFTER your weigh-in’s, you don’t have the time to recover as quickly. Drastically reducing water weight is a strategy that MMA fighters might employ to drop 20-30lbs before a fight, but they have 24 hours to recover before their fight. This is not the case for traditional Muay Thai fights where you fight the day of the weigh-in.
DAY 6: Eat Only Fat and a few Carbs the Day Before Weigh In’s
The day before the weigh-in your calories should ONLY be coming from fats (high-fat peanut butter) and a few carbs.
The reason why you should be eating fats is that fat is full of dense calories and has little weight. This will ensure that you are filled up with enough energy before the fight while reducing the amount of waste matter in your bowels. Naturally, this ensures you STAY as light as possible while still having energy. You should eat a little bit of carbs the day before your fight to ensure your glycogen stores are not fully depleted, helping you sleep at night. If you have ZERO carb intake the day before your flight, you won’t have enough time to refill your glycogen levels and will feel gassed in the fight.
DAY 7 (Fight Day or Weight-in Day): The Day of Your Fight, Eat Some Carbs
Day of your fight, eat some carbs.
It is important to eat some carbs the day before your fight, so your glycogen stores won’t be completely depleted before the fight. After you have eaten the carbs, remember not to drink any water as it will bind with the carbs. This will dramatically increase your weight.
DAY 7 (Fight Day or Weight-in Day): Sweat The Last Weight Out
If you haven’t made weight before your weigh-in, sweat the remaining water weight out.
This weight-loss method is a last ditched effort on your part. Yes, you can severally dehydrate yourself by running for hours in a sweatsuit or by doing a marathon session in the sauna; depending on how much water weight you do have in your body, you can shed a lot in just a few hours (kilos even). But the price to pay may be your performance during the fight as you place a huge strain on your body by dehydrating it. Keep in mind you don’t have a lot of time to recover since you fight the same day.
So generally, if you can avoid the sauna and sweatsuits, avoid it.
Note: Keep checking your weight all the time. The whole time you should make sure that you are constantly checking your weight to make sure that you are getting closer and closer to your target weight.
By following the above method, you will have the energy for your fight and should feel ready to face anyone in the ring.
How to recover from the cut
Recovering from a weight cut is probably one of the most important aspects of weighing in. If you are unable to properly recover your energy and water weight, you will feel lethargic and will lack energy in the fight. This can be the difference between have an outstanding performance and performing at your worst.
Immediately following the weigh-ins, you have to drink a lot of liquids that contain electrolytes (sports drinks) before you start eating. The ideal intake is about 1 liter of fluid per hour. When your urine is a light color, you can start eating carbs to refuel your system. Don’t overdo it. It will ruin your performance. Try to stop eating 3 hours before the competition. Ideally, your stomach should be empty when you enter the ring. This will ensure that you are ready for peak performance in the ring.
Always remember, that time is your friend when cutting weight. The more time you have to cut your weight the more weight you can cut. It is important to ask yourself if you can cut to your target weight without suffering from performance issues in the ring. Besides the lack of energy and fatigue you might face during, and after a weight cut, there are also health risks. Your kidneys are always at risk when you are dehydrating yourself to an extreme, so it is important to have a good game plan before you start your cut process.
If you have any questions or comments related to weight cutting, please post them in the comment section below. Good luck with your cut.
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