Guest post by 5x BJJ World Champion Bernardo Faria, who is known for his half guard. He achieved a phenomenal double gold medals in the BJJ Mundials in 2015.
Cutting weight for BJJ is very different than cutting weight for MMA, and other contact sports where the weigh in is one day before. When the weigh in is one day before, you can use a sauna, dehydration and similar things to help you cut weight. But in BJJ, especially at IBJJF the weigh in is right before your first match, so cutting weight the last days before the competition is not a good idea.
As I’m not a nutritionist, instead of sharing specialized tips for dieting, I will share here the basic tips that I try to follow, to cut weight, train hard, and feel good the day of the tournament.
One of the things that I’m most proud of about my BJJ career, is that in 16 years of competition, I never was DQ because I didn’t make my weight. I always knew how to cut weight correctly, train at the proper weight and because of that I was able to maximize my training to prepare for the competitions.
Here are the 5 tips that I always follow when cutting weight:
1 – I don’t like to cut weight the last week before the tournament.
Lets say for example that you walk around at 190 pounds and you have to cut to 180 pounds. If you wait until the last week to do it, it means that you did your whole training camp 10 pounds heavier than what you will compete at, so your body has gotten used to train with that weight, and the day of the tournament you will be 10 pounds “weaker”. I always start cutting weight 2 or 3 months before the tournament, and my goal is always to have at least 1 or 2 months to train at the weight I will compete at.
2 – Salad is the key for me.
I have tried everything to make the diet less painful and more pleasurable. I have gone to nutritionists and tried everything you can imagine. But the most important part for me is to eat as healthy as possible, so it means a lot of salads. I try to eat so much salad that when the real food comes I’m not hungry anymore. So normally when I have to cut weight, I eat lunch and dinner at Wholefoods, and I stay just in the salad bar, make a good portion there and then I pick some protein, like chicken breast, fish, or white eggs.
3 – I believe that once a week, or at least one meal per week, it is really important to treat yourself to whatever food you like.
It can really help your body to burn calories easier. I’m not a nutritionist to explain why and the reason for this, but I can guarantee that it can really make a difference. It also gives me some motivation to restart another hard week of dieting.
4 – Never let your weight go too much higher than your limit.
This is one of the things that I try to do: Even though I’m on my off season and I’m eating whatever I want, I’m constantly checking my weight and I try to never stay more than 10 pounds over (around 4.5 kilos). 10 pounds can be hard to cut, but it is still possible without having to “kill yourself dieting”. More than 10 pounds can become a tough task, especially in the winter, when we don’t swear too much, and feel like eating more.
5 – The last tip I would suggest to everyone is to have a scale at home.
It’s always good to be constantly checking your weight. Sometimes when I don’t check my weight for a long time, I kind of lose control of what and how I’m eating. Every time I pay attention to my weight, I’m always in control of the situation.
I tried here to share my basic principles of dieting, that I believe is even more important than the dieting itself. Its pretty much like BJJ, if you know the basics really well, you will have good BJJ. If you know the basics of nutrition pretty well, you can always be in good shape without doing some crazy weight cutting at the last minute.
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