Weight Cutting For a Fight (MMA weight cut plan) [2023 Update]

Weight cutting & Making Weight for an MMA Fight

For entertainment purposes only. 

Weight Cutting for BJJ & MMA can be extremely dangerous – always have medical guidance and supervision


General tip – never trial something new the week before your fight. Be well prepared in all areas, this includes weigh cutting protocol

To ‘comfortably’ make weight for a fight, you need to get to be within 20lbs of your target weight, a week before.

weigh in
After a weigh-in


If you’re 30lbs or more over your fight weight, 6 weeks before you’ll need to start dieting with 5 meals a day.
High protein, moderate carb diet, with large amounts of fresh and organic vegetables and meats, large amounts of omega 3, and low amounts of sugar.

– You will need a diet that produces a calorie deficit.

– First start by working out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) here
– Then use the Harris Benedict Formula, to work out your calorie requirements, based on your physical activity levels:
– If you exercise 1-3 days a week, x your BMR by 1.375
– 3-5 days a week BMR x 1.55
– 6-7 days a week BMR x 1.725
– if you have a physical job and train most days, BMR x 1.9

I’m 5ft 10, 200lbs and train about 4 times a week. So my calorie requirement would be 3060 calories.

If you want to lose 10lbs in 6 weeks, you’ll need to produce a calorie deficit over those 6 weeks of between 20,000 and 35,000 calories; depending on how fat you are.
To lose 1lb of fat, in theory you’d need a deficit of 3,500 calories. So to lose 10lbs, you’re looking at 35,000.
So you’ll require a calorie deficit of between 500 and 800 calories per day.

Below is a diet plan I did about 8 years ago for someone who was 17 stone.
I would not recommend it now, but it gives you an idea of what 3000 or so calories looks like.
The diet needs more nutrients. Eat a ripe banana post workout, and a smaller amount of maltodextrin, eat organic meat and fish, eat organic vegetables everyday, eat tumeric & garlic everyday, krill oil and foods high in probiotics, such a manuka or raw honey, high quality dark chocolate and Miso soup.
10 years ago, dieting and sports nutrition was overly concerned with macronutrients, but micronutrients (basically vitamins and minerals and other stuff) are just as important for health and performance.  Eat as much organic veg’ as possible.  Eat organic and locally sourced foods that haven’t been ‘treated’ and pasturised so that all the goodness has been sterilised out of them.  I’d also replace the milk with hemp or almond milk and use wheat free bread:

weight cutting diet

Here is an alternative diet plan

Basic Principles/Theory behind final weight cut:

– 1 gram of carbs, stores an additional 3 grams of water, so carbs need to be reduced
– Sodium/salt makes the body retain water (so don’t have any)
– Drinking lots of water, according to Martin Rooney, makes the body trigger hormones, which in turn, cause the body to excrete more water than normal.
So by drinking 2 gallons, and tapering it down to no water at all, the body will lose more water weight.

To lose around 15lbs in a week

6 Days out from the weight in:

Day 1:
Increased water consumption effects the regulation of aldosterone, a hormone which influences water retention and sodium:
Drink 9 litres of water (some people recommend distilled water)
Eat around 50-60g of carbs
Plenty of protein and fats, within 3 or 4 meals, no snacks
Plenty of organic veg, omega 3 etc.  You’ll need nutrient dense food to stop you feeling too run down. This is the same for every day except the weigh in day.
No Salt

Day 2:
Drink 4 litres of water
Eat around 50g of carbs
Plenty of protein and fats, within 3 or 4 meals, no snacks
No Salt

Day 3:
Drink 4 litres of water
Eat around 50g of carbs but no starches or sugar
Plenty of protein and fats, within 3 or 4 meals, no snacks
No Salt

Day 4:
Drink 2.5 litres of water
Eat around 50g of carbs but no starches or sugar
Plenty of protein and fats, within 3 or 4 meals, no snacks
No Salt

Day 5:
Drink 2.5 litres of water
Eat around 20-40g of carbs but no starches or sugar
Plenty of protein and fats, within 3 or 4 meals, no snacks
last meal by 6pm
No Salt
It is generally agreed that you should be about 3-6lbs over your weight-in weight, the time you go to bed before the night before the weigh-in.

Weigh in Day:
2 very small meals
less than 10g of carbs
No water or salt until weigh in

Weight Loss through SweatingVERY dangerous and potentially damaging to performance

Be aware of physical effort and energy expenditure if making weight for a fight.
You can do low intensity cardio wearing heavy or waterproof clothing the day of your weigh in.
Weigh yourself at 5 minute intervals.

You can soak in a hot bath the night before the weigh in.  Weigh yourself at 10 minute intervals.
Put everything in the water, except for your mouth and nose.  Towel off after each interval and weigh yourself, do not shower, as this can make you gain more weight.
Take 5-10 minute intervals between 10 minute bouts in the bath.

Pooing out the Pounds
Martin Rooney
“By taking the gentle, natural laxative before you go to bed the night before the weigh in, you should wake and clear your bowels completely. Remember that you would only do this if you felt you were not going to make the weight with the methods listed above.”

If completely necessary, then use the day before the fight.  Dandelion root 250mg-500mg 3 times a day.  If required you can also consume caffeine to increase dehydration and to help with pooing out some more pounds also.  Consume 200mg with meals also.


Rehydration After Weigh In

– Sip on 1L of distilled water as of 5 mins of weigh in
Distilled or purified water is absorbed more efficiently than tap water.  Add sodium and 40g of maltodextrin to every 500ml of water.  Gastric emptying is imperative for rehydration, and of all carbohydrates, maltodextrin has the least detrimental effect on the rate of gastic emptying.
Consume 1 litre of water, every hour.

– Within an hour have a Cool Bath
 – soak in a cool bath for 15 minute intervals. Consider adding Himalayan salt and epsom salts to the bath in quantities large enough to replenish electrolytes.  Consider adding glycerol to the bath too.

Drink 2-3L of water with Glycerol, maltodextrin, whey protein, sodium & ALA – When the fighter is within 20% of his ‘fighting weight’ he can add glycerol to the water he/she is consuming. This is something that MUST be piloted months before a fight to make sure you can tolerate high amounts of glycerol.  Consume around 50g of glycerol in 1 Litre of water. To pull even more water into the body and muscle cells, you can also consume 3-5g of creatine with every litre of water (don’t consume more than 10g in a day).  Again, consumption of creatine and tolerance to creatine needs to be understood well before the fight.  Creatine should be consumed with caution, especially when dehydrated as it can be taxing on renal function.
–  To increase insulin secretion (and therefore glycogen loading) add 10g of protein for every 40g of maltodextrin.
– Again to increase glycogen loading, consume 250g of Alpha Lipoic Acid before every litre.

Eat small meals every 30 minutes, high in carbohydrates with a pinch of salt.
– Keep an eye on the colour of your urine. If it’s clear, this should mean you’re rehydrated (as long as you’ve been sipping water and not downed 2 gallons in one go).

– It is possible to ‘hyperhydrate’ whereby the fighter puts on more water-weight than before the start of the weight-cut.  This can actually improve strength and endurance but depends on the individual. Again, this something that needs to be trailed and tested.  Hyperhydration would entail consuming more glycerol, creatine, alpha lipoic acid and maltodextrin.  This needs to be done with caution; the glycerol can cause stomach cramps if the fighter is not used to large amounts.

Day of Fight
– Either way, consume distilled water, with sodium and maltodextrin, 1L per hour, until 3 hours before the fight.  What to consume the 3 hours before the fight is again tailored to the individual.  I would normally recommend consuming the water, sodium and maltodextrin drink solution, but at lower amounts, up until 45 minutes before the fight.
– Consume a high carbohydrate breakfast, with protein.  E.g. oats/porridge, banana and ground almonds.
– Eat another meal of similar macronutrient content, every 3 hours.  Personally I struggle to eat anything on the day of a fight, so normally blend a smoothie of hemp protein, oats and a banana.
– Eat a meal with protein, medium/low GI carbs and water 3 hours before the fight.
Sweet potato chips
Haddock or chicken breast
300ml water with 15g maltodextrin and a pinch of salt
– Eat a carbohydrate snack such as a banana 90 minutes before the fight.  Do not consume solid food after this point.
– Continue to sip on a carbohydrate sports drink if required. Take any pre-fight supplements 30 minutes before the fight.  Avoid stimulants if it’s your first fight. I would recommend taurine or beta alanine, but that’s another article…

Tip – you should have at least 1 ‘trial run’ of a diet and final weight cut protocol, before you have to do it for a fight

Additional Thought about the 6 week weight cut

After writing this article, I’ve thought of a slightly more accurate way of using the Harris Benedict Formula to calculate calorie needs.
You just need to accurately work out the calories you expire during a week’s training.
I work out my calorie needs this way:
According to http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/ my BMR is about 2000 calories.
Multiplied by 1.2 this gives 2400 calories just to maintain my weight if I DON’T train (according to the Harris Benedict Formula).

Multiplied by 7 that’s 16,800 per week I would require to maintain my weight during a sedentary lifestyle.

Next work out how many calories you expire during your training sessions.
I do weights 3 times a week, and jiu jitsu once a week for about 2 hours.
Weight training probably burns about 600 calories per session, jiu jitsu probably about 800 (only about 30 mins of the session is actual rolling).  I’m not sure if there’s a really accurate way to calculate the calories, but it’s more specific than the “3-5 days a week” of the Harris Benedict formula

The amount of calories you burn will depend on your exercise intensity, gender and bodyweight.
So this is an extra 2600 calories I need per week.  I have a sedentary job, so don’t need to take that into account.

If I add in my exercise calories to the 16800 I need for a sedentary lifestyle, that gives 19400 calories per week that I require to train and maintain my bodyweight.

Divided by 7; that’s around 2800 calories per day I need

The best thing to do is monitor your weight and body fat very closely during a weight cut and adjust calories accordingly.

Finally, here’s a quote from a pro MMA Fighter thoughts on Making Weight for a Fight

To emphasis the importance of trialing things yourself, and using
what works for yourself, here’s what he says:

“I never do the distilled water thing. It makes me feel like
complete **** lol. After weigh in I immediately have:
500 ml water
Pinch of pinch salt
1 tablespoon Honey
2 tablespoon of chia Seeds
Then next hour I consume 1 litre of water slowly with some
Hour after that I have fats, usually Nuts and avocado

Then I have a carb meal…
Every individual is different though…

Another thing is if I weigh in on Friday I cut the salt out on
Tuesday. Any earlier and it really effects how you feel and
digest food up to the weigh in which I have found to make the
weight cut harder…”

Read more about Nutrition for MMA in my Free ebook

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