When it comes to cutting weight, many martial artists swear by it. The idea behind it is that if I can weigh in at 150 pounds, then gain weight back before the fight, and be fighting while weighing 165 pounds, then I'll have a size advantage on my opponent. This concept is most popular in western martial arts; wrestlers and Brazilian jiu jitsu fighters are so big on it, in fact, that you basically have to cut weight, just so you can be EQUAL in size to your opponent. I cut weight pretty successfully in my tournaments and I get people asking me for advice on how to do it safe and easy, so I thought I would share with every body. Be warned: cutting weight is not easy, but it is worth it on fight night.
First off, before your cut you should be lean. You need to prepare your body for competition. I try to get with in 12 pounds of my target weight before I even begin my true cut. For good healthy ways to lose weight I recommend the Paleo Diet, aka the caveman diet. A simple Google search can get you some good free info on that. You need to be at 8-12 pounds by 5 days before your weigh-ins. Now, a common misconception is that people think they will gain back the weight they lost while dieting before they fight. You will not, you will regain 2 to 3 pounds of your diet loss max by the time you fight. This is important to know because if you diet to 12 pounds short of your goal, and then cut the 12 pounds, will only be 15 whole pounds heavier on fight night. If you diet to 8 pounds short of your goal, you will probably only gain 11 pounds back by the time you fight. So the more weight you actually cut, the harder it will be, but the more you will get out of it. In martial arts, and especially in grappling, every pound counts!
The So! Now your body is lean and ready to fight. Now comes the part that will test your dedication. We will begin the cut 5 days before the weigh-in. On days 5,4, and 3 before the weigh in, you should be drinking 2 gallons of water each day. DO NOT DRINK DISTILLED WATER. That amount of distilled water will wash out all minerals from your body, leaving your skin flaking and your head aching. Drink regular purified water. I carry around a gallon jug with me, so it is easier to remember how much I have drank. At this point there should not any changes to your diet, just eat healthy and keep off the fat that you have lost in your dieting. You will be going to the bathroom like crazy! This is what we want. What we are doing is slowly washing out some of the minerals in your body (temporarily) this will help you retain less water in the later stages of the cut.
Once you have done this, for three days you can cut back on the water. 2 days before the weigh-in you want to drink one gallon of water. However, on this day, we must cut out all sodium from our diet. This means plain, raw, and green veggies. You can eat fruit for carbs / energy. Also, lean meats are good. Chicken or fish, but no sodium based seasonings. This means no stake sauce, no teriyaki sauce, no salt. I usually season my fish with lemon juice. Not the best tasting, but it's just for today. This is going to help us release water wait on the next day.
Now, you're one day from weigh-ins. Today is the hardest day, but do not worry, tomorrow will be the pay off. Today we drink no water at all. Because of all of the preparation we did the preceding days, we do not need to sauna or do any ridiculous work outs. Just do your regular work out. The amount that you sweat because of our preparation will be sufficient. Also, through out the day, and especially at night your body will release the water weight on its own. As far as food goes; your food will be minimal. Go to your local grocery store and pick up Balance Bars or some form of energy bar that his relatively high in calories but low in actual weight. Heavy bars like protein bars, will be too hydrated, and will put water weight in your body. I highly recommend Balance bars. They weigh next to nothing and they give you the calories you need to get through your work out. It usually eat 3 of these throughout the day. Eat nothing else besides those 3 bars.
When you wake up in the morning you should be with in 1-3 pounds of your goal weight. Your going to be thirsty and hungry, but your almost there. Take an all natural supplement called Triphala. You should be able to find it at a health food store or on the internet. So you may need to order this ahead of time. Take a dose of this (do not worry it is completely natural and you can not overdose on them). What this will do is empty your bowels. You will lose a few pounds and should be on target at this point. Weigh in as early as you can so you have maximum recovery time.
Once you have weighed in you have to start the most important stage: the recovery. You should have 24 hours to recover. After your weigh ins your probably going to feel a little run down, but food and water will have never tasted so good. Start your recovery with Pedialite, you can get this at any grocery store. The original flavor tastes terrible but they have some good fruit flavors now. You want to drink one sip at a time. Chugging fluids will cause them to go right through you and you wont hold on to the nutrients. Take sip after sip and drink the whole thing. Then switch to water. If it is available to you, drink high PH water. 9.5 water if you can find it. Depending on where you live this might be easy to find or impossible. I have a filter on my sink that allows me to obtain it. If you do not have it, drink Arrowhead. As far as bottled water goes, it is the highest on the PH scale; 7.0. You may need to drink up to 2.5 gallons. Still continuing to drink one sip at a time. Do not depend on your thirst response to tell you when you are hydrated. Drink until your urine is clear.
A few supplements that will help you recover, if you want to spend the money on them, is Ionic Minerals, and spirulina chlorella. Both of these can be found online. They are all natural, and REALLY help you absorb the water you drink, this way you have to spend your entire day drinking gallons of water.
A FEW TIPS TO HELP YOU IF YOUR COMING IN SHORT:
If you are coming down to the wire and are not making weight, there are a few things you can do to lose an extra pound or so. Spitting helps, suck on jolly ranchers and fill a water bottle up. One water bottle = about one pound.
I do not recommend using the Sauna, but if you a pound short and you have 30 minutes until your weigh in, use it, but only in an emergency.