What is the secret to MMA weight loss?
Updated: Oct 31, 2018
So how do guys like George St. Pierre and Connor McGregor drop 20Kg for a weigh in? How can those male underwear models look the way they do? How does any model do it? What about body builders that can show every single little muscle fibre? How do they do it? What is their secret?
The secret is they get down to the lowest possible body fat composition, and then dehydrate themselves. In fact, they lose almost all of their weight in water and gain it all right back again. It takes them less than 12 hours to dehydrate, so there is minimal damage to your body. Your body has evolved to be able to cope with that kind of dehydration for a short period of time, as long as it rehydrates very soon and very quickly after dehydrating. I don’t recommend this method of weight loss because it is not sustainable and it is not long term viable. In addition, when you do it wrong, you can expect significant muscle loss and other health problems. Kidney failure occurs after 24 hours with no water, death soon after. I’m not a doctor, so go talk to your doctor before attempting anything like that.
A few days before a weigh-in, a male athlete or model will drop from 8% body fat to 3%. This is about the absolute minimum a body will go to. Women have significantly higher body fat limits. Immediately after weigh ins, the photo shoot, or competition, they will begin the rehydration process, as well as begin consuming food calories. They will never stay dehydrated for longer than 12 hours, and will not stay at 3% (12% for women) body fat for longer than a day or two. Rehydration techniques for some people will include an actual IV drip which is illegal in UFC now, but still allowed in some jurisdictions.
The chart below provides some guidelines for fat percentages in men and women:
High performance athletes who need to weigh in will drop to about 3% body fat (for men, women will drop to about 12%) about 24 hours before weigh ins and be fully hydrated. Then they will reduce water for 12 hours, and begin depleting their water reserves. With 12 hours remaining, they will eliminate water, and continue to deplete water until they have reached their target weight.
You may be asking now, “How do you deplete water?” It’s called a sauna. Crank up the heat and sit in the sauna. Some people can lose as much as 5 lbs an hour in the sauna. Some people know exactly how much they lose per hour, so they can time it to the minute. For example, they will know they can lose 20lbs, at 4lbs per hour, in 5 hours. They may take a 5 minute break every 30 minutes to regroup,
Bodybuilders walk around at about 20% body fat. Other high performance athletes and models walk around at between 7% and 10% body fat (women 15% to 19%). If you’re looking at anorexic people, they need help and are obvious to spot. The reality is, that six pack striated look is very short term and unsustainable. The people you see in the magazines cannot and do not stay there. Magazines provide PhotoShop improvements as well, which don’t happen in real life. Makeup artists know how to spray on the muscles, and lighting experts know just the right way to shine a light. What you see in a magazine or on the internet is usually just an illusion. In addition, we’re looking at the top 1% population with respect to will, ability, and appearance.
That's the secret.
So what about you? What can you hope to expect? What have you set as a goal? Do you have 3% body fat as a goal? Are you expecting to lose 50lbs in one week? I hope not. No one can walk around every day at 3% and no one can safely lose 50lbs in one week. Maintaining 8% to 10% body fat is an achievable goal for men, and 16%-18% is achievable for women. Losing about 1KG of body fat per week is probably a good goal, but it really depends on how much body fat you already have. The lower the body fat, the more food related sacrifices you need to make. You need to balance your healthy love of food with your body goals.
Do you participate in a combat sport that requires a weigh in? Will your weight target require you to lose muscle mass? Are you willing to lose muscle mass to achieve your weight goal? How much time do you have for recovery? Does your sport allow IV drip recovery? There is actually a formula for calculating how much weight you can lose without losing muscle mass. You need to balance your sport goals with what your body will actually let you achieve, and there are many factors to consider.