For the uninitiated, weight cutting is the process of altering your diet, exercise or training regime and water intake, in order to be a certain weight at a certain point. Usually for an athletic contest. The practice originated in boxing, in order to gain a weight advantage over opponents, competitors would agree to fight at a certain weight, usually much lighter than they naturally weigh, and aim to cut down for the weigh-ins (which occur the day before competition for professional events, and the day of competition for amateur events, in most cases) and then refuel, so that come fight time, the fighters are heavier than what they originally weighed in at. There are pro’s and cons to this, which are often debated.
The reason I’m harping on about this, is I’m going to be doing my first weight cut, for a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition. I’ve done small ones before, weighing around 76 kilos and cutting down to 73.5kg, (half a stone over a couple of weeks) and if I remember correctly, I ate pizza the week of the weigh-ins, and just dropped my carbs and water intake a couple of days before competition. Not recommended, but you gotta try these things. At the minute, I’m sitting comfortably at about 75.5 kilos, and my optimum weight, I feel at the minute, without losing any strength, just getting rid of excess fat, would be the 67.5kg weight class. I think I’d be strong and tall for the weight class, and be able to use this to my advantage. Now, that’s easy said, harder to actually do it. The competitions in four weeks time, so I have plenty of scope to cut down.
Me and the team after my pizza-based diet. Notice how I’m not holding a medal?
I’m currently training about four times a week, three jiu-jitsu sessions, and some Muay Thai. I’m going to up that to five sessions a week (extra Jiu Jitsu) and an extra session of cardio, running, swimming or cycling. Now usually, to stop me feeling tired, with this much training I have to eat more to allow my body to refuel and recover and make sure I get my eight hours sleep. Which I’ll still have to do, because I don’t want to break my body down and become weak and tired, otherwise what’s the point. I’d still want to look good and feel good if I wasn’t competing. So, I’m going to be cutting out all the shit. By that I mean, sweets, crisps, pizza, sugary drinks, cheese (more for the dog I guess), bread, beer, cider, biscuits and anything else unnatural I guess. I’m going to trial this for a week or two and keep an eye on my results and keep you updated, in the mean time I guess keep checking my Instagram for a million pictures of scrambled eggs and avocados. If it doesn’t work, then I’ll resort to more extreme measures and check with a few friends of mine, much smarter and more qualified than me to see what they think the best course of action is.
Now, some professional athletes may scoff at this and see it is a very small, easy weight cut, which is fine, but if you want to see the extreme side of weight cutting, there’s some interesting stuff on Cris Cyborg here:
and you can see her process of cutting down from about 165lbs to 140lbs, in which she is brought to tears several times because the cutting process is simply too much for her, another case is Light Heavyweight (205lbs) fighter Anthony Johnson, who used to attempt to cut down to Welterweight (170lbs) for his fights, which he failed at several times, and now claims that the process will have taken years off his life, as it is done through severe dehydration. The process comes from amateur and college wrestling in the United states, responsible for some of the nastiest and most dangerous weight cuts done in recent memory. Daniel Cormier, current Light Heavyweight champion of the UFC, had to be pulled from wrestling in the 2008 Olympics due to kidney failure from extreme weight cutting.
Anthony Johnson on death’s door from a bad weight cut
The main line of debate at the minute, is that if people didn’t cut weight, and just fought at the weight they sit comfortably at, then it would be much better for their overall health, and make for a better performance (being dehydrated and then knocked out can have long lasting severe damage, as opposed to just getting knocked out, still pretty bad for you mind) and this is probably correct. If you look at Cowboy Cerrone’s recent tear through the Welterweight division, as he has expressed his misery through weight cuts in the past, there’s certainly a case for it, but what I’m trying to do is get to my optimal weight. Right now I have excess body fat, and I want to see where I sit at when I’m lean but comfortable. I can eat pizza when I’m 40. Or in a month. We’ll see how much I miss that doughy goodness over the next four weeks. If you have any tip or tricks, or awesome recipes, hit me up!