Mistakes I made when cutting weight for BJJ

I recently wrote a post about how to drop to a lower weight division in BJJ in a sustainable way and you can find it here.

But sometimes it’s impossible to stick to your nutrition plan and healthy habits. That’s when the not-so-healthy tricks come into play. What to do if you signed up to a lower division, but still have 3.5 kg to lose in 4 days?

Once I managed to lose weight sustainably for the previous tournament, the intention was to stick to it. This plan was ruined by a stressful period of changing jobs AKA life getting in the way of jiu jitsu. Keep reading to see what my painful last minute weight cut was like.


Last week had been a nightmare, which lead to my devouring an amazing, full-fat coconut curry and an apple pie at a friend’s house last night. I was tempted not to weight myself today, but I need to assess the damage. I’m 3.5 kg over, which is a significant amount when it’s almost 6% of your total body weight.


I’ve been good yesterday, but the number hasn’t changed. Now that I think about it, I’ve had tonnes of salt over the last few days. At least, I really do hope that is the problem.

To get rid of the salt from my body, I’m drinking one SportsDirect (massive) mug of tea after another. I’ll have to drink as much as possible today and tomorrow, a normal amount on Thursday and just a little bit on Friday to get dehydrated enough. I try to think of all the bathroom trips as extra exercise.

My food today mostly consists of cooked vegetables with a tonne of ginger and chilli to cover up the fact that it’s tasteless without salt.


This is starting to get tough.

The number on the scale is decreasing, but not fast enough. It’s time to stop eating carbs. My mood is affected and I’m really grumpy after training. That night, I have a beautiful dream about a falafel wrap with pink pickles.


Every piece of my muscle tissue hurts from yesterday’s training session. Still 1.5 kg to go. Looks like I’ll end up running laps around the venue before the weigh in tomorrow…

I’m sweating a lot after the shower. That’s a great sign, even if it doesn’t feel too great. I have hardly eaten today. Any attempt at engaging in interaction with me ends up with my hissing at people like Gollum when protecting The Precious.



900 grams to go. I can’t drink or eat anything today. 

I go to my 2 job interviews and get back to the flat at 1 pm. Five more hours until weigh in. Surprisingly, I’m not even hungry, which is probably related to not drinking (I have never not drank anything for half a day before). I feel tired, but it’s the kind of tiredness that goes away as soon as you fuel your body again.

I weigh myself again, but I have lost nothing, even though I’ve been running around the city for half a day. There are still 2 h left before I’ll have to leave the flat, so I spend half of that time in a homemade sauna AKA a very hot shower.

I’m not taking any chances. Earlier on today, I’ve bought a special set of weigh in clothes. It consists of the thinnest, cheap cotton t-shirt and a pair of stretchy cotton leggings that reach just below the knee. I got the wrong size too, so they look far from fabulous. Like Charlie’s tracksuit pants from ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ far from fabulous.

But it works! The set is so light, the scale doesn’t even detect it (must be under 100-200g). A pair of regular spats and a t-shirt added 0.5 kg, so this really makes a difference. After my home sauna session, I’m now 200g below the cutoff weight.

Two hours later, I step on the scale at the venue and put an end to my ordeal. The next step is of course devouring a whole pizza. Sweet freedom!

What’s the problem with this approach?

You’re stressed to the last minute, dehydrated, hungry and generally feel exhausted. It may be possible to cut this way once, twice or maybe a few more times.

But soon enough, it becomes too much of a burden. In the long run, you won’t be able to do it effectively anymore. Each competition will make you think of this torture, not to mention that your performance will be compromised by limited food intake the week before.

Cutting weight is not necessarily bad for you, but you need time to recover from it. This is often possible only if the weigh in takes place the day before or in the morning rather than right before the match. If possible, it’s better to avoid it.

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