Article written by Marcus Buur.
You can also have a look at our previous article: How-to-find-your-ideal-weight-for-bjj.
If you want to compete in Bjj, you must fight in a weight class and it’s important to find the right weight class for you. It goes with out saying that being as heavy as you can with in your given weight class is an advantage and this is where cutting weight comes into the picture. In writing this article I got allot of help from Dietist Ann-Sofi Krakau.
Cutting for Bjj competition is different than cutting for many other fighting sports like MMA or wrestling as you weigh in 5 minutes before your fight with you kimono on. This makes loosing weight in liquid a less optimal way of cutting weight as it leaves you no time to rehydrate.
This can be done by dehydrating your self and there are many ways to achieve this but its not the scope of this article.
If you just want to drop the liquid without dehydrating yourself so you can stop eating carbs a few days before. Carbohydrates attract water. Many people who start with LCHF (low carb high fat) or stricter GI may lose several kilos in the beginning, but they do not lose fat. However it may not be very smart to do this because you need carbohydrates to perform during the competition. You could try and eat simple carbs in the form of glucose at every opportunity during the competition and add lots of fluid. This however it’s not optimal for the Bjj competition format as mentioned earlier in the article.
This leaves Bjj practitioners with only one real option for cutting weight and that is loosing fat. If you want to loos fat there is only one answer and its not one that any one finds really funny. There is only the hard way to loose fat and that is a negative energy balance or in plain words starve.
Even diets that involves eating high-fat (LCHF) comes down on this. Their diet is so rich and contains no “junk food” like cookies, sodas, chips, etc. that it does not matter that the food is so calorically dense as you can only eat limited amounts any how.
The easiest way to keep a diet is to eat regularly. For example, breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper, about every 4-5 hours. In between, should be slightly smaller, such as a fruit eaten. That way you eat something about every two hours, which is roughly the time it takes for your blood sugar to go down and you become “hungry for something”. Avoid excessively fatty foods and white bread. Eat lots of vegetables and whole grains. Do not drink calories … It just gives a lot of energy, but no saturation. Drink water or carbonated flavoured water. End meals with a cup of tea or coffee, they usually helps you feel full and satisfied.
Do not lose weight too quickly, thus avoiding the strict diets. For obese people usually say 1 kg a week, but for normal person, it is too fast. The body will adjust to the new amount of energy and metabolism decreases. When you on some occasions eat a little extra, or are less strict with your food intake your low metabolism will put back on your old weight quickly. It is better to lose weight slowly, then you can still eat “pretty much”, and enjoy all the good that is!
Diet in connection with training.
Right after your workout you should eat the following:
Glycogen is our carbohydrate storage. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and stored glucose is called glycogen. Glycogen concentration in muscle is the amount of carbohydrates that your body stored in the muscles. We may also store glucose in the liver and a small amount of blood.
In order to increase the glycogen concentration, it is important to eat carbohydrates within 30 minutes after the training session. So eat some fruits like Bananas, apples etc. Then the muscle cells ‘open’ and can be replenished with glucose. You wait too long “off” muscle cells, and glycogen concentration (the amount of energy in the form of carbohydrates) your muscles will be lower. Instead, the stored carbohydrates you eat as glycogen in the liver. To keep going as much as possible when you practice, it is important to have glucose readily available (to have it in the muscle cells is super). The more you cope better strength and conditioning to get. The better fitness and muscle mass you have, the higher the metabolism, it has been.
Same as with carbs, exercise breaks down the muscles and the need protein to build up. If you don’t digest protein DIRECT, within 30 minutes you will not get the same effect of training.
But the protein can also be good to eat right before exercising; it should have the same effect. Examples include eggs, mackerel, cottage cheese and quark.
Want to burn fat? Go train!
When you walk you burn fat, you have the time to go 1-2 hours per day so it’s good, but time consuming. Intense exercise like running, cycling burn more calories. If you want to burn fat and not carbohydrates you can do the following. Work out in the evening, do not stock up on carbs, and just eat protein. Then the carbohydrate deposits are empty in the morning. Train hard in the morning before the meal! The body must use fat as fuel and will use the stored fat. But its hard, as it is laborious for the body to use fat, so the training will be really tough. This method is a bit extreme and you might not be supposed to do it too much. It’s important to have carbohydrates in your body when you are training to be able to perform physically and concentrate. Ann-Sofi does not think you will become a good fighter if you always train with no readily available energy in the body. As its hard for the brain to concentrate and thus learning technique is hard
Importance of protein when you have a negative energy balance.
If you have negative energy balance to lose weight it is very important to eat plenty of protein. When the body is not getting enough energy, all the carbohydrates are used in the brain. The brain can only use glucose for energy. The fat and protein is then converted into energy. First the fat, then the protein (muscle) is burned. Unfortunately your body does not use the fat until it simply runs out, it’s not that simple. The muscles will begin to break down as well. This is especially true for people who already are slim. Therefore, it is really important to eat protein so that the muscles do not break down too much, but if you go on a diet, it’s very hard to avoid and this is another motivation to lose weight slowly!
If you want to loose weight for a competition there is no substitute for knowing your body and finding a good way. The experts say a lot of things but in the end finding a way that works well for you is most important. Go on the diet for a less important competition so that when its time to drop weight for the big competitions you know how to do it.
I drop from around 83kg down to 80.5 kg for competition I do this by eating fewer carbohydrates but more importantly I do it by obsessing about my food in this period. Its never fun but by counting calories and obsessing about it I put focus on it and it helps me to hold the diet despite the constant hunger. I also drink more coffee during Wight loss periods as I tend to feel less hungry when drinking coffee.