25 June 2016

Cutting Weight for comp - My Journey

I have never had to cut weight for competition before. This is in large part due to the fact I was so overweight, that even getting rid of 70kg I was still in the super heavyweight bracket (over 97kg).

This year, I decided I wasn't going to compete until I was under 97kg and thus in a new category. One main reason for this, apart from getting rid of the last few kilos of unnecessary fat, is the fact I was constantly facing opponents with at least 20kg of weight advantage. With my age (almost 40) and chronic back issues, that weight advantage is getting too much. I also wanted a challenge and to prove I can reach a specified weight in a set time limit.
I had intended to start this process three months ago however, the week I was about to start the program set out by my strength and conditioning coach Grant, I sprained a ligament in my back. Seven weeks later when full intensity training was possible, I caught man flu and was out of action for another three weeks.

The golden measure
So instead of having to lose 10kg in 5 months, I now have 7 weeks to do it while still gaining strength. The safe way to lose and keep off fat is dropping 0.5kg per week. So a quick math review shows I have to be a bit more dramatic.

While it's possible to cut 10kg in a week, it's not healthy and will mainly consist of water weight. This might be OK as a once off for MMA fighters that weigh-in 24 hours before the fight, as they have a day to re-hydrate. BJJ competitors weigh-in half an hour before their matches, removing that luxury. So, what can I do?

Given that I have 7 weeks, I still have enough time to change a few things. The main thing is my meal plan. Currently, I stick to something resembling the Weight Watchers plan. I can eat anything I want but in restricted quantities. This has worked for my weight loss until now but I need to step things up and make it strict on myself. So I sought information from my trusted coach and good friend John Campbell, who has been doing this for well over a decade. The following rules are based on his insight.

Rule 1: No cheat days. No sugar. No dairy. No alcohol (not that I drink it anyway).
Rule 2: Only drink pure water. Two litres per day minimum. I can also have tea or black coffee but read here for how I removed caffeine from my life. Coconut water may be added back in closer to the competition assuming my weight is on track.
Rule 3: No starchy carbs (pasta, potatoes, grains etc). These get added back in when training for performance.
Rule 4: Eat three meals a day consisting of a protein source (bacon, fish, eggs, turkey, chicken, coconut/flax/olive oil etc), and pair with carbs in the form of veggies (onions, spinach, tomato, cucumber, kale etc)
Rule 5: Snacks consist of fruit (apple, apricot, banana, berries, coconut, grapes, lemon, mango, orange, pears etc) and raw nuts (not baked, not roasted and not salted). Nuts should only be a handful per day.
Rule 6: Serving sizes are: the size of my hand for protein; one piece of fruit; 2 cups of green veggies (asparagus, broccoli etc) and 3 cups of leafy greens (spinach, kale etc). This is the starting point. If I'm still hungry I'll slowly increase the serving size.
Rule 7: Only eat until I feel full. If there is more on the plate, leave it. Serving size will change based on time of day and exercise levels so may take some time to perfect.
Rule 8: Continue for four perfect weeks.

With these rules to focus on, I have a launch pad for setting goals and understanding my motivation. Coupled with my exercise program of intense cardio, high-rep-low-weight strength exercises and focused BJJ training, I'm confident I can drop the weight while improving my physicality.

I'll update this page with results every week or two, but if you want more frequent posts check out my page on Facebook or #TWBJJComebackTour.
Before shots 24-6-16

For now here are some before photos taken on 24th June. Here's hoping the after shots show an improvement.

Here are a few stats I'll update as I go as well.

24th June
Weight: 107.4kg
Percentage of body fat: 22%
Resting heart rate: 62 bpm

1st July
Weight: 103.2kg
Percentage of body fat: 21%
Resting heart rate: 56 bpm

8th July
Weight: 101.4kg
Percentage of body fat: 20.5%
Resting heart rate: 60 bpm

Its been two weeks and I have lost 6kg. Only a few more to go. I can safely cut 3kg of water weight in the final week before comp and still be strong, however I want to ensure I get there in the next two weeks so I can start building muscle. The diet is making me hungry all the time however I have moved past the point of it bothering me. As a society we eat far too much, going through this made me understand just how little food we actually need, and a small hit of the right carbs gives a massive boost to energy. I'll do another update in a few weeks (stats each week still) as comp time approaches.

15th July
Weight: 99.5kg
Percentage of body fat: 17.3%
Resting heart rate: 64 bpm

This week made some real changes to the body fat percentage. My waist measurement dropped significantly. My goal range is 15-17% so that is almost achieved. Four weeks to go.

22nd July
Weight: 98kg
Percentage of body fat: 15.5%
Resting heart rate: 61 bpm

Almost there. Just to illustrate how ridiculous BMI is, I am currently coming in at 26.8 on that outdated scale meaning I'm overweight. 15% body fat tells a far different story. I'll add some photos next week to compare with the ones above.

30th July
Weight: 96.4kg
After shots 30-7-16
Percentage of body fat: 15.1%
Resting heart rate: 59 bpm

As promised here are the after shots. No more muffin top over my pants and legs are trimming down. I'm starting to show some definition in the abs as well. Feeling faster in training and my gas tank has improved. Just need to maintain this weight for two more weeks for the comp. Dropping it further won't aid me during this competition as I want to be as close to the maximum weight allowance as possible. Perhaps next comp in late October I could drop down to 91kg and be at the top of the next weight division. I'll worry about that after the Aus Cup.

I'll post one more update after the comp to let you know how I did (and show off my shiny new medal).

15th August
So the comp is over and I won the Bronze medal. I was beaten by a very technical fighter that went on to win Gold. I was happy that I didn't make any mistakes but was simply outperformed by a skilled opponent.

I've got plans to compete a few more times this year so check out my Facebook page for details and results.

As promised here is a pic of me and my new medal.

Hopefully I'll see you on the mat soon.

Hit up the comments with your own weight cutting stories, or simply send me your encouragement. I want to hear from you.


  1. Being your biggest fan it needs to be said that no-one is as proud of you as I am. Your focus and commitment are just two of the million things I love about you. Keep kicking arse. Oh and taking names.

    1. There is a long list of names, and I'm almost out of bubblegum.

    2. Hahaha. Sense of humour too. That's 3 of 1,000,000.

  2. Awesome stats. I love your example of the BMI. I'm sure there are a lot of overweight people that would kill for that physique.

    1. Thanks. Yeah I am all for removing BMI from everyone's vocabulary.