How to Lose 30 Pounds in 24 Hours: The Definitive Guide to Cutting Weight

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For thousands of athletes, cutting weight is a critical science. Heavyweights are an exception. (Photo: MMAWeekly)

Gaining 34 pounds of lean mass in 28 days? Impossible, or so claim the skeptics.

Losing 20+ pounds of fat in one month without exercise? Impossible, or so claim the skeptics.

So let’s add another item to the list of impossibles: I have lost more than 20 pounds in less than 24 hours on more than a dozen occasions.

The most extreme example was 33 lbs. — from 185 lbs. to 152 lbs. — in less than 20 hours, which produced a rather unpleasant 120 beat-per-minute resting pulse while attempting to sleep.

In 1999, I was a gold medalist at the Sanshou (Chinese kickboxing) national championships in the 165-lb. weight class (here is a video sample of Sanshou). This is perhaps the most controversial accomplishment in the 4HWW, as I make it clear:

I arrived the on-site at 187 lbs., weighed in at 165 lbs., and stepped on the platform to compete the next morning weighing 193 lbs.

This post will explain exactly how it’s done — the techniques, the “drugs”, the science — and include excerpts from a series of articles I wrote for Powerlifting USA in 2004 called “The New Technology of Water”. Even if you have no need to cut weight, after reading this, you will know more about organ function and hydration than 99% of all athletes in the world…

The kickboxing anecdote was controversial because those who cried foul have never competed in weight-class-based sports. This post will also therefore serve as a primer for armchair critics who should do more due diligence. Cutting weight is a prerequisite for elite competition in such sports — period.

Matt “Kroc” Kroczaleski knows this. He is one of the most successful powerlifters in history, with incredible totals at both 220 lbs. (970-lb. squat, 661-lb. benchpress, 783-lb. deadlift = 2414-lb. total) and 242 lbs. (1008-lb. squat, 666-lb. benchpress, 788-lb. deadlift = 2463-lb. total). Here is how he begins his 2007 article on cutting weight:

What follows is a brief summary of the process I have successfully used to cut up to 30 lbs in less than 24 hours. (I went from 250 lbs to 219 lbs for the 2007 Arnold in 22 hours.) I put it all back on in less than a day too. I did this without any type of diuretics or IVs. It was all done entirely through sweating to lose the weight and drinking/eating to replenish it. This process was designed for competitions with a 24-hour weigh in period prior to the competition.

Our methods are almost identical, and I’ll include some of his suggestions.

Phase One – From 187 lbs. to 165 lbs.

Here we will examine, in practical terms, the necessary science of dehydration and the most effective modifiers and methods for attaining competition weight while minimizing muscle and organ damage.

It should be noted that dehydration can result in internal organ failure, coma, and even death, particularly when diuretics are used. The death of Austrian bodybuilder Andreas Munzer should serve as a reminder of what can happen when the use of drugs like Aldactone and Lasix (the latter and fast-acting insulin are arguably the two most dangerous drugs used in sports) is taken lightly. From a post-mortem article in The Observer:

His blood was viscous and slow-moving. His potassium levels were excessively high. He had been dehydrated by the diuretics he used in the days before his last competitions. His liver was melting. A post-mortem would find that it had dissolved almost completely.

ultra sec.jpg (JPEG Image, 500x568 pixels) - Scaled (87%)

The visible fibers of Munzer, who suffered multiple organ failures from diuretic abuse. Not worth the risk.

Is this article then irresponsible? I think it’s quite the opposite. I’m publishing it now because I’m saddened to still read of athletes killing themselves with imprecise approaches.

It’s a sad fact that weight-class based athletes will attempt this regardless, so I’m trying to provide safer guidelines. I don’t want to encourage casual sex among high school students, either, but I’m a realist and recognize that “just say no and abstain” doesn’t work and results in unintended pregnancies, etc. I’d rather have an open discussion and offer education to those who will do it regardless, which is the vast majority.

I’m of course obligated to emphasize that “this article is for informational purposes only.” TO REPEAT: RAPID DEHYDRATION IS DANGEROUS AND BOTH BRAIN DAMAGE AND FATALITIES ARE NOT UNCOMMON.

I present this article as an introduction to briefer and, in many respects, safer approaches that can supplant some of the more dangerous practices (thiazide-based and loop diuretics in particular) while delivering comparable results.

The practice of severe dehydration will continue among elite athletes in weight-class-based sports until competition weigh-ins are held as athletes step onto the platform or mat to compete. The problem is amplified further when athletes gain muscular mass over the course of a single competitive season, yet are required to remain in a single weight-class to retain records and ranking. My hope is that the approach details in this piece, as extreme as it is, helps athletes avoid even more dangerous practices (wearing garbage bags in saunas, etc.) that are common and more blunt, which results in excessive and imprecise loss.

So, how does one drop from 187 lbs. to 165 lbs., then perform 18 hours later at 193 lbs.?

Latent Heat and Electrolyte Reuptake Modification

It is contended that there are two appropriate vehicles for the facilitation of short-term water loss (diuresis): the manipulation of thermoregulation, and the manipulation of hormones related to electrolyte balance and water retention. In other words, you can combine 1) increased water excretion through the skin via temperature treatments with 2) increased water excretion through urination, which is dependent on the modification of kidney function.

If you weigh 200 lbs., 120 of those pounds are water, which is distributed between three systems: blood, cell interiors (as pertaining to powerlifting, muscle fibers), and the spaces between the blood vessels and the cells dependent on them. Approximately 8% of your total water volume is contained in blood plasma, 67% is contained in the cells themselves, and 25% is found in the spaces between the two, which includes subcutaneous water. It is imperative that athletes understand the distribution areas from which excess water, and not life-sustaining water, can be most safely excreted, pulling from critical systems only as a last resort. Thermoregulatory and mild electrolyte manipulation, with potassium-sparing supplementation for the latter, provides a compelling combination of efficacy and safety. Bear in mind that “safety”, particularly when used in the context of something that is inherently dangerous, is relative.

Exercise, whether running or otherwise, is not used for dehydration, as it places a load on the muscular and nervous systems when recovery is impaired, decreasing the force production capacity we want to preserve for competition.

Additionally, athletes should never dehydrate for the first time before competition. Just as with any technique, dehydration should be practiced within 85-90% of competition requirements at least two times in pre-season to ensure each athlete understands the individualized performance consequences and required recovery times.

Rehydration and additional hyperhydration are also accomplished through two primary vehicles: increasing the speed of water absorption, and increasing the volume of water that can be retained in the body for muscular performance purposes. This is done primarily with purified water and modified molecules of glucose.

By scientifically hydrating and increasing arterial blood plasma volume, you increase blood pH levels (alkaline), increasing the ability of hemoglobin to bind to oxygen. The end result is that proper hydration increases oxygen delivery to body tissue. A 1-1.5 quart loss of water can result in as much as a 25% decrease in aerobic endurance for this reason. By increasing plasma and cellular hydration you can conversely increase oxygen delivery and uptake, with a subsequent increase in endurance (hypothesized by some to be primarily dependent on aerobic mitochondrial activity).

Thermoregulation: Humidity and Brevity

Torranin has demonstrated that dehydration decreases both isometric and dynamic muscular endurance by 31% and 29%, respectively, following only a 4% reduction in body-mass by sauna exposure. This would still only represent an 8 lb. reduction for a 200 lb. competitor, a moderate decrease by weight-class competition standards. This further establishes the functional impairments caused by dehydration and the paramount importance of limiting the time spent in this state.

It is the author’s empirical experience that target dehydration should be accomplished over as short a period of time as safely possible, and that moderate dehydration sustained over multiple days only exacerbates the inherent problem of maintaining glycogen stores and muscle tissue integrity.

Saturday Weigh-In: 9am

If weigh-ins are hypothetically held at 9am Saturday morning, restrict additional salt intake beginning at Thursday dinner. No red meat or starchy carbohydrates (bread, rice, potatoes) should be consumed on Thursday night or on Friday, as both of these food product categories cause the disproportionate storage of water (3 grams of water per 1 gram of glycogen; creatine and fibrous tissue water retention in red meat). Drink your normal volume of liquids in the form of purified or distilled water until Friday morning, at which point water consumption, limited still to purified or distilled water, should be reduced to 1/3 your normal volume. If you don’t want to do the math, just drink 1/3 cup every time you would drink a full cup.

On Friday night, following a early (5-6pm) and light dinner consisting primarily of vegetables, thermoregulatory work should begin and water consumption should be eliminated until weigh-ins. Non-prescription diuretics, discussed in the following section, would be consumed at breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Friday, in addition to upon waking on Saturday.

10-Minute Sessions

The bathtub is the preferred tool for dehydration based on the outside humidity in total submersion, which is 100%. The higher the humidity, the less the evaporation, and the more your body must sweat to cool core body temperature. This is why athletes will sweat more in a steam room than in a dry sauna. Fill the bathtub with water that does not burn the hand but causes moderate pain if the hand is moved underwater. Your target weight by bedtime should be 2-3 lbs. MORE than your necessary competition weight, as you will evaporate that volume range of water during 6-9 hours of sleep.

Set an alarm clock next to the bath for 10 minutes, and preferably have someone who will also alert you at the 10-minute mark. Submerge your entire body and head in the bathtub, entering which should take at least 2 minutes. For ease of entry and to minimize movement, sit cross-legged at the front of the bath and lay down slowly, putting your head underwater so that only your face is exposed to the air and pointing towards the ceiling. If you feel faint at any point or when you reach 10 minutes, exit the tub and run cold water over your scalp but no other areas; ideally, place an ice pack on your head and neck instead of using water. Towel off, but do not shower, as you will reabsorb water through the skin. The author has seen elite wrestlers make the mistake of taking a shower the morning of weigh-ins, only to find they have gained 2-3 lbs.! Do not make this mistake – avoid showers completely until weigh-ins. After toweling off and urinating following the first 10-minute session, weigh yourself on two scales, taking the average of four weighings: two on each scale to account for any mechanical inaccuracies. Many athletes will lose too much weight the first time they use a bathtub, and this only extends the necessary recovery period. Take a 5 minute break near a cooling source or at room temperature if you have not made weight, and repeat 10-minute submersion sessions with 5-minute cooling breaks until you are 4-5 pounds from your required weight. At least two pounds will be lost as a result of the potassium-sparing diuretics detailed in later sections, and if you lower your body weight excessively, you should consume water to ensure you are 2-3 pounds HEAVIER than your required weight before sleep.

Two practical suggestions from Matt Kroczaleski:

When there’s a very short timeframe, the only thing that matters for the weigh in is how much the food physically weighs, not the calorie content when I consume it. I allow myself two pieces of bread with peanut butter usually spaced out evenly during the cut. The first piece is typically consumed about eight hours into the cut (about 10–12 hours out from the weigh in) and the second piece about six hours later. I always feel a renewed energy and sense of well-being after these small snacks. I don’t allow myself to drink ANYTHING during the cut because this is counterproductive to what I’m trying to achieve.

I will chew on and spit out ice chips during my five minute breaks, but that’s as close as I come to drinking any type of fluids during the weight loss process.

Potassium-Sparing Non-Prescription Diuretics: Blood Flow and Sodium Filtering

Nearly all diurectics produce their effects of diuresis by directly or indirectly acting on the kidneys. There are two primary types oral or injectable diurectics, those that increase blood flow to the kidneys and those that inhibit reabsorption of electrolytes by the nephrons or loop of Henle in the kidneys.

It is best to think of the kidneys as the body’s blood filters — Each day, 150-200 quarts are filtered through the kidneys, where toxins, excess water, and unneeded minerals are removed. If you increase the amount of water that is excreted per quart of blood, and simultaneously increase the volume of blood passing through these filters per hour, the effect is pronounced diuresis through dramatically increased urination.

Prescription diuretics, especially loop diuretics such as Lasix, often cause excessive depletion of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, ions that regulate electrical transmission and heart function. Moderate potassium insufficiency can cause DNA damage and muscular cramping, most certainly resulting in impaired lift performance. More severe depletion, which can have an onset of minutes with intravenous injection, has resulted in organ failure and cardiac arrest for athletes who do not understand the serious nature of these medications. Diuretics are designed for the treatment of hypertension and congestive heart failure.

The author has found two compounds particularly effective for short-term water loss that mitigate the above problems: dandelion root (taraxicum officianalis), and caffeine, a xanthine alkaloid we’re all familiar with.

Dandelion root has the highest vitamin A of any known plant (14,000iu per 100g of raw material) and a high choline content. Dandelion root is one of few commonly available plants that increases sodium chloride excretion by the renal (kidney) tubule while simultaneously exhibiting potassium-sparing properties. When sodium excretion is increased, the kidneys increase water excretion to maintain electrolyte and osmotic balance. Dosages for dehydration, based on a 4:1 extract, are 250-500mg 3x daily with meals.

Caffeine not only increases sodium chloride excretion but acts primarily by increasing renal blood flow and stimulating parietal cells to increase gastric secretions. The latter combines with dandelion’s effect of increased bile flow to not only increase water excretion but food elimination (gastric emptying). Dosages for dehydration are 200-400mg caffeine (preferably caffeine anhydrous) 2-3x daily with meals. 200mg is roughly equivalent to two cups of drip coffee, or one medium cup of french-pressed coffee.

Used in combination for a 200 lb. competitor, 250-500mg of dandelion root would be taken with 200-400mg of caffeine at all three Friday meals (remember that dinner is early, 5-6pm), and upon waking 3 hours prior to weigh-in at 9am. It is recommended that the athlete also supplement each meal with a non-prescription 99mg potassium product.

Phase Two – From 165 lbs. to 193 lbs.

How do you use sugar alcohols, skin protectants, and insulin mimickers to recover from dehydration and move from a precompetition 187 lbs. and weigh-in of 165 lbs. to 193 lbs.? How can an athlete retain 50% more intramuscular fluid for improved oxygen delivery and power output?

Just because you’ve weighed in doesn’t mean you are ready to compete. Far from it.

Proper cellular hydration is required for glycogen synthesis and muscular contraction. Dehydrate a muscle by just 3% and you cause an approximate 10% loss of contractile strength and 8% loss of speed. Ball State University research has demonstrated a 7% decrease in speed over 10 kilometers by runners dehydrated by just 2%-3% of total body mass. For a 150 lb. strength athlete, this represents a very meager 3-4.5 lbs. of water loss.

This further establishes the paramount importance of rapid rehydration for optimal safety, recovery, strength performance following voluntary dehydration, particularly when the percent of total Lean Body Mass (LBM) is significant (the author has supervised, but does not advise, up to an 18% reduction).

One objective during the dehydration stage is the preservation of muscle fiber and blood plasma fluid volume with simultaneous excretion of extraneous subcutaneous water, which is located between the skin and muscle.

Similarly, the objective during rehydration is the increase of muscle cell and blood plasma fluid volume to predehydration or hyperhydration levels in the shortest time possible. What is hyperhydration? In the context of powerlifting, hyperhydration is a state produced when one artificially increases the amount of water the body can retain for improved power output and oxygen delivery. To that end, athletes I’ve worked with have used the following modifiers and tools, whose usage and dosages are included later in this article:

Blood plasma volume:

Room-temperature baths, PJ-A3AH MicroStructured™ water unit, Glycerol, glycerin, 1,2,3-propanetriol, electrolyte supplementation

Muscle cell hydration (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy):

Room-temperature baths, Panasonic PJ-A3AH MicroStructured™ water unit, 4:1 carbohydrate/protein ratio, glucose, glucose disposal agents and insulin mimickers, creatine monohydrate

Using Skin as a Water Channel

In the exact reverse of the dehydration protocol, it is advised that while consuming bio-engineered water (below), the athlete capitalize on the largest organ in the body as an initial vehicle for water uptake: skin. Take a 15-minute bath in room temperature water, preferably with Epsom salt for systemic magnesium supplementation and muscular relaxation (decreased electrolyte supply often causes muscle cramping).

Understanding the Small Intestine, Gastric Emptying, and Aquaporins

It is critical that any athlete with a short time span for rehydration increase gastric emptying, or the speed at which liquids pass from the stomach to the small intestine for absorption. Blood plasma fluid volume optimization precedes muscle cell hyperhydration, as the solids consumed for glycogen restoration will decrease the speed of liquid gastric emptying. This needs to be accomplished before glycogen is restored by ingestion of solids.

Also note that most commercially-available sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) and so-called “replacement fluids” contain much too high a concentration of sugars (high-fructose, dextrose, glucose, sucrose, maltodextrin) or other solutes to move efficiently from your stomach to the primary site of absorption in the small intestine. This does not mean you avoid solutes entirely, as I’ll point out below with ORS (oral replacement salts); it just means that you need to precise.

The optimal process of initial rehydration would move ingested H20 from the digestive tract (specifically, the small intestine) to the bloodstream quickly and without volume loss, and then through the semi-permeable cell membrane, again without volume loss (“loss” defined by eventual excretion, rather than retention, of water).

Protein channels in the cellular membrane, called “aquaporins”, only permit single-file influx of water molecules in clusters 3-6 angstroms in diameter. Unfortunately, 50-85% of purified water molecule clusters are 11-13 angstroms in diameter. Thus, while more efficiently assimilated than unpurified water, you may still excrete 50-85% of the purified water you ingest. For optimal hydration, defined by maximum H20 uptake % per ml ingested, there is a newer and more effective option: purified micro-clustered water. Through the process of electrolysis, basic tap water is restructured into smaller clusters of 5-6 water molecules, as identified with Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Raman Spectroscopic Meters (NMR 0-17 peak shift from 130 Hz to 65 Hz).

Important note: the scientific literature available in English on micro-clustered water is confusing at best and convoluted with nonsense. The above explanation of “restructuring” was provided by an importer and could fall in the latter category. In fact, I’m inclined to believe this is the case.

The results discussed below, however, are from self-experimentation after purchasing the Panasonic PJ-A3AH from the same importer who had obtained several units after seeing them used in Japanese hospitals to treat burn victims.

I find the experimental results hard to explain as placebo effect: I and several other athletes were able to each drink more than 70 ounces from the Panasonic PJ-A3AH microclustered water unit (nearly 9 tall glasses of water), with no discomfort or excretion even 5 hours later. Divided by 16 oz. and multiplied by 1.5, one might extrapolate that the equivalent of approximately 6.56 pounds (1 gallon is 8.33 pounds) of tap water were assimilated. All of the athletes involved hydrate throughout the day and generally urinate at least once per 1.5-2 hours.

Regardless, the Panasonic unit is difficult to find, as are filters, so purified or distilled water can be used in substitution. Water molecules can move across the cell membrane, not just via aquaporins, albeit at a slower speed.

To avoid hyponatremia, or water intoxication, in both cases, it is recommended that you consume 75mg of sodium per 8 ounces of water (approximately 1/3 teaspoon per quart) to maintain electrolyte and water homeostatis. If you don’t, salt-dependent thirst-drive will be inhibited prematurely to prevent over-dilution of the blood. During a three-hour rehydration period, subjects consuming moderately sodium-infused water restored 82 percent of lost fluids versus 68 percent for subjects consuming water alone (Maughan RJ). Glucose can additionally increase absorption of water through the intestinal wall.

An even easier option is to also consume an ORS (oral replacement salt) drink like Pedialyte, which is popular among wrestler. The reasons to do so are clear in this comment from reader Craig Weller:

I once participated in a hydration lab as part of a combat medicine course.

A premise of the course was that many modern rehydration methods are ineffective and even counterproductive.

Participants were split into four groups and hydrated with either plain water, water with ORS, Gatorade or IV’s. My notes are several states away right now, but I think the amounts were around one gallon per hour for four hours.

Most participants in the Gatorade group developed fairly bad diarrhea. I was in the plain water group, which developed symptoms of hyponatremia. It was surprisingly miserable. The IV group (plain saline) developed ridiculous edema. They looked like Michelin men.

The only group that didn’t suffer much was the ORS group. They didn’t have the edema, hyponatremia (headache, fatigue, etc) or diarrhea of the other groups. As I recall, they also didn’t excrete quite as much (we measured urinary excretion down to the milliliter and graphed it over the four hours).

All groups except for the ORS group reported adverse effects for around 24 hours after.

Most of that seems fairly common-sense, but experiencing it firsthand was a dramatic learning experience.

The Sweetest Alcohol for Rehydration: Consuming Hand Moisturizer

Glycerol (1,2,3-propanetriol), commonly sold in supermarkets as “glycerin” for skin moisturizing, is a sugar alcohol with hygroscopic (water-binding) properties. Glycerol is used in meal-replacement bars to maintain softness and used in hand moisturizer because of its ability to pull water from the air. Glycerol is a three-carbon alcohol, which along with Free Fatty Acids (FFA) are produced when a triglyceride (stored fat/adipose tissue) is glycolyzed. It is theorized that glycerol drives water into blood plasma by increasing absorption of water in the distal tubules and collecting ducts of the kidney. Those who has read this entire post will recognize that we manipulated kidney function in the opposite manner initially to increase water excretion.

Glycerol-induced rehydration significantly increases plasma volume restoration within 60 minutes and at the end of a 180-minute rehydration period. Total urine volume is lower and percent rehydration is subsequently greater following glycerol usage (Scheett TP). In submaximal ergometer testing, mean heart rate was lower following glycerol ingestion by 4.4 +/- 1.1 beats/min (p = 0.01). Endurance time was prolonged after glycerol use in two studies: Study I (93.8 +/- 14 min vs. 77.4 +/- 9 min, p = 0.049) and Study II (123.4 +/- 17 min vs. 99.0 +/- 11 min, p = 0.03), demonstrating that pre-exercise glycerol-enhanced hyperhydration both lowers heart rate and prolongs endurance time (Montner P). The ingestion of glycerol improves hydration beyond that provided by equal volumes of Gatorade or water alone (Griffin SE).

Serum glycerol concentrations are normally 0.05 mmol/L at rest but can be increased to 20 mmol/L by ingesting 1-1.4g/kg of Lean Body Mass (LBM) of a 40% glycerol solution with 20-26 mL/kg LBM of water. Averaging these amounts and converting them to US English volume measurements, one should consume .543g/lb LBM of glycerol and .3984 fluid ounces/lb. LBM.

150 lb. athlete: 81.45 grams of glycerol with 59.76 fluid ounces (1.86 quarts) of water (preferably microclustered)

200 lb. athlete: 108.6 grams of glycerol with 79.68 fluid ounces (2.49 quarts) of water

250 lb. athlete: 135.75 grams of glycerol with 99.6 fluid (3.11 quarts) ounces of water

It is critical that the supplemental water is consumed with glycerol; otherwise, water will be pulled into blood plasma from the only available source, muscle cells and surrounding tissue.

Glucose and Insulin for Increasing Hydration Speed

Carbohydrates are converted to glucose through digestion and unused blood glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles. In part 2, our athlete did not consume starches from Thursday lunch to weigh-ins at 9am on Saturday, and he will have depleted glycogen stores by necessity: each gram of glycogen holds 3 grams of water.

To optimally rehydrate after initial bioengineered water/sodium/glycerol consumption, one must optimize glycogen stores so the full water storage capability of the body is restored. This is accomplished by consuming macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates) with glucose disposal agents to enhance sensitivity to insulin, as storage hormone released by the pancreas. Insulin also stimulates glycogen synthase, as enzyme necessary for glycogen synthesis.

Several principles must be followed:

1. Consume your first meal 90-120 minutes after post-weigh-in glycerol and purified/distilled water ingestion.

2. Consume carbohydrates (CHO) with protein to optimize insulin response, but do not consume more protein than permitted by a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. More protein will interfere with water retention. Caseinates (cottage cheese or milk) or whole food proteins are preferred to whey, which is a fast-acting protein that can cause catabolism after 1.5 hours.

3. Take 100mg of Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA or thioctic acid) per 75 pounds of bodyweight + 50mcg of chromium polynicotinate (not picolinate) with each meal following weigh-ins. Both compounds increase insulin sensitivity and deposition of nutrients into muscle cells. The latter is a niacin-bound chromium referenced as 50x more bioavailable than chromium picolinate for purposes of glucose disposal and insulin mimicking.

4. Consume 5g creatine monohydrate and at least 75mg of salt with each meal, as both will work in conjunction with CHO as water “carriers” to increase absorption through the intestinal lining.

The Hyperhydration Advantage: Underutilized and Underestimated

By understanding engineered H20, its modifiers, and the science of hyperhydration, it is possible to weigh-in at 165 lbs. and compete 12 hours later at 193 lbs. It is also possible to consume 1.5 gallons of water in 16 ounces or increase protein synthesis 3-fold while simultaneously optimizing fat-oxidation.

Few elite athletes understand, let alone capitalize on, the hydration modifiers that represent next-generation tools for improving oxygen delivery and sports performance. It is precisely this broad ignorance that makes engineered hyperhydration one of the most valuable tools for athletes seeking a legal and safe performance advantage with results that rival any dietary supplement currently available.

Last but not least: do your research and don’t treat this as a low-stakes game. It will kill you. Here are three examples in one five-week period.

Caveat emptor.

Good luck to those whose sports require this. Train hard and drink smart. No medal is worth a Munzer-like ending.


Related and Suggested Reading:

Pavel: 80/20 Powerlifting and How to Add 110+ Pounds to Your Lifts

Physical Performance Posts: Why a Calorie Isn’t a Calorie, Intermittent Fasting vs. Caloric Restriction, Krill Oil…

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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300 Replies to “How to Lose 30 Pounds in 24 Hours: The Definitive Guide to Cutting Weight”

  1. Quite interesting to show how you did it. When I read this in the book, I thought: if this guy is telling the truth, this is absolutely genius!

    1. This is awesome stuff, and very well-written. I have worked out in gyms with amateur and semi-pro body builders, and I have seen some of the grueling things they do to their bodies in the months before competition. Very hard on the body and organs; I myself wouldn’t have the guts to put my systems through such extremes, but I understand the necessity of doing so in very few circumstances. Again, very good job with this!

  2. Athletes do crazy stuff. Lets hope none of the readers try to replicate this experiment cuz it may have fatal results.

    1. Eh, I win 500 quid if I lose more weight as a percentage of my body than my brother by next week (we had a month but I was kind of lax about it and only lost 8lbs).

      I think this is interesting and I am fairly sure I don’t have the discomfort tolerance to take it to a dangerous level… mwahahahaha I shall win my money and then eat a huge delicious christmas dinner and thumb my nose at the world.

      Also, parents of the world, lol weight loss competitions don’t work, especially not for monetary reward (rather than say pride) since it just encourages people to find cheats :3

  3. Crazy stuff Tim… But a great post. It’s impressive how you always seem to do the impossible. Next thing we know you will be a successful rapper or an actor or something like that!

  4. Tim, another great read! Actually, I will have to read it a couple time to fully digest (or should I say absorb) the material.

    But I do have one question about conditioning, how does “cutting weight” impact conditioning? In many examples in MMA, athletes who cut a significant amount of weight will often appear “tired” or “sluggish” in their fights like when Brandon Vera dropped down to LHW at 205lbs.

    1. @ACercenia,

      Cutting weight kills conditioning if you don’t rehydrate completely. Matt Kroc has always reported feeling 100% after his cutting, but he knows how to get fluids back into his system. Powerlifters and other athletes will often use an IV drip to rehydrate on tight deadlines, but this isn’t something you should do without supervision.



      1. I agree you ideally want to recover fully, but that’s not always possible. After the deaths in wrestling they changed the weigh-ins from competing 24 hours after your weigh in, to competing 2 hours after the weigh-in, with hopes to cut down on the weight cutting by athletes.

        As a result wrestlers are still making the same cut with little or no time to recover, making it even more dangerous because they are competing in a dehydrated zombie like state. So then how would you advise the recovery process when you have 1 hour to so after a 10% body weight reduction cut? The other 1 hour would be used for your warm up time before your match.

        From my experience you don’t have time to eat a meal and can only snack. Drinking fluids with a high sugar content gives me a stomach ache and if I eat too much I feel heavy and bloated.

        I’m curious to hear your take on it.

  5. Hi Tim,

    Impressive. really impressive. I am in my 2nd week of “Losing 20+ pounds of fat in one month without exercise”. It just works. People just feel affraid about testing themselves to the limits. I am happy to say that I am designing a great lifestyle since I read you book. Thanks Tim, I can not wait for another post!

  6. Very interesting article.

    Im also on the process of loosing weight, and i would like to make a warning :

    if your IMC is very high (like mine) dont try those high profile method which are designed for specific top athletes metabolisms.

    Like we say in France : do not sell the bear’s skin, before having killed him.

  7. Very informative! Thanks for posting.

    I did enjoy reading this in the book. It was genius, really.

    It is interesting to learn about how the systems of the body work. So many people are desperate or naive and will do crazy things to achieve these types of results without fully understanding how the methods work and any risks involved. I wonder if a modification of this could be used for non-athletes simply as a weight-loss tactic? Obviously a more realistic goal would be to lose up to 5 pounds a week or so.

  8. This method is certainly quite impressive, and the science incredibly detailed. And while your rebuttal is fair, I agree with the larger criticism, which is that this goes against the spirit of weight-class competition, which is to pit people against others in a similar physical range. Rather than gaming that system, wouldn’t the better solution be to eliminate this ‘loophole’ and have something like daily weigh-ins for a period leading up to the competition to ensure that competitors actually belong in a certain range, and thus the event is ‘fair’ in that respect? Or am I missing some other aspect of this?

    1. @Jeremy,

      I agree completely, but until the rules change, athletes will all cut weight. This is the unfortunate reality, and has led to some improvements in NCAA wrestling at least, where I believe some competitions now have weigh-ins as you step onto the mat to wrestle. This reduces the incentive to drop classes dramatically.



  9. Great article.

    I think the following sentence may need revising:

    The above explanation of “restructuring” could was provided by an importer and could fall in the latter category.

    Trent Layell (@tlayell)

  10. That is seriously nuts! 30 lbs in 20 hours? That is definitely a strain on all of your body systems.

  11. Pedantic grammarian moment: might want to correct “The above explanation of “restructuring” could was provided by an importer and could fall in the latter category.”

    I don’t ever need to weigh in, but thanks for the tidbits related to hydration in general.

    Can you cite a source for “A 1-1.5 quart loss of water can result in as much as a 25% decrease in aerobic endurance for this reason.”? Just curious about the details…

  12. Actually having re-read it a couple of things spring to mind

    Re: whey. Though I agree with the proportions whey is very probably the smart choice due it’s speedier movement through the gut, it’s all about time after all. Casein is not your friend time wise. Any sharp drop off in serum amino acid concentrations would be overcome by the small, regular re-feeds popular when putting weight back on.

    Also considering the amount of CHO being consumed in the period between weigh in and competition I couldn’t ever see catabolism being an issue

    ….Just my opinion and experience.

    Also no mention of waxy maize starch or rice oligodextrin? Both can be useful.

  13. Hey Tim,

    This is absolutely the 80/20 of what works. I just completed the advanced P90x series and I thought that what was intense. This just takes things to a whole new level. Great specificity.



  14. Nice article Tim, but why post a pic of two great fighters that don’t have to cut weight for their weight class? Fedor forever…

  15. Wow great information there. It is very interesting to see what athletes who have weight requirements go through. I have always shyed away from this for two reasons. My thyroid gland was very hyperactive when I was in high school causing an inability to gain weight (it is difficult to play football at 145 lbs much less wrestle with no muscle mass). The second is that I just like team sports.

    I do have a question pertaining to the Thyroid gland. Is there any techniques to super charge that gland? Now that I am in my mid 30’s I find that it is more difficult to lose 5-10 lbs that I gain after a few weeks of eating poorly. I would like to have some natural supplements, or activities, that will help me in regaining some of that good hyper metabolism that I had as a high school student.

  16. Yeah, I’m not so sure I trust this… I don’t like the idea of my brain shrinking to a little raisin from all that dehydration…

  17. Hi Tim,

    interesting article. Sidenote: Andreas Münzer was Austrian. It’s like in this joke “Austrians try to persuade the world that Beethoven was Austrian and Hitler was German.”

    Thanks for 4HWW.


  18. Hey Tim,

    You are the man excellent post yet again. I’ve been following your slow carb diet and have lost 28.5 lbs!! I am in a bet to lose weight and the weigh-in is Friday. Definitely going to try this out. Great timing!



  19. I would have picked a different photo. The two mma fighters pictured are heavyweights that do not cut weight….

    1. Hi Jason,

      Totally understood that Arlovski and Fedor don’t cut weight these days, though I’m sure they both have when younger and moving up the classes for sambo, boxing, etc.. I just liked the photo and was in a pinch for time.

      Hope all is well,


  20. Tim I applaud your efforts. We need more people with accurate scientifically tested methods for meeting goals like this. Otherwise kids will continue using methods solely based on worth of mouth or methods they develop themselves.

    In many cases people will go to extremes with little results because they are using one method that causes rapid dehydration (running on treadmills in saunas) while using another that causes hydration (taking creatine for example). The end result is a lot of wasted effort as best, death at worst.

  21. Tim,

    This article is awesome – now I don’t have to try a bunch of crazy weight loss experiments and keep track of them all — you laid it ALL out!

    Great information on the hyperhydration, and bioengineered H20 I had NO idea of any of that… this is amazing information and thanks so much for sharing.



  22. Wow, Tim. This is amazing.

    Couple of questions: Does it significantly affect your energy level (both mental and physical) during competition? I would equate it to going on an all day bender and then waking up the next day and trying to sober up. I understand it’s much more scientific and thought out, but just wondering how you feel when you step into the ring after going through this 24 hours before.

    Secondly, why don’t these competitions change their policies to a weigh in right before the match? Seems like that would prevent people from putting themselves through such routines in order to make weight.

  23. I want to compete in Muay Thai when I get back to Kansas City in a year, but I refuse to fight super heavy weight and I really didn’t want to have to cut muscle. This will help put me into heavy weight. Awesome.

  24. Tim,

    As a guy who competes in events that don’t require me to cut weight (triathlons, half-marathons, etc), do the principles of hydration apply the same way? I assume from reading the article that by utilizing the same hydration tips above, I can increase endurance/performace. Anything I should be careful of when doing this without the dehydration phase? Thanks.


    1. Hi O’Brien,

      Yes, the principles of hydration are almost identical for endurance sports. I would say identical, but the amount of hyperhydration (and thus weight) you are willing to carry is dependent on the sport and distance.

      There is no need to dehydrate first, though reducing nonfunctional excess water will have performance benefits. This is one reason they use Lasix (which I would NEVER recommend for you) in race horses. The second reason is to mask other drugs 🙂



  25. Hm, Tim, correct me if I’m wrong..

    but I’m quite sure that I read a post (no3 on investing) yesterday.. but now I can’t seem to find it anywhere, and I start to think that I was dreaming all along. Now, I have quite vivid imagination but I’m hardly dreaming of your blog posts… so what’s the story – too hot stuff?


    1. LOL… Isabelle, the last post wasn’t deleted, just redated. If you search “Stewart” on the blog, you’ll find it. It just wasn’t pulling its weight (nyuk nyuk) for the homepage.



      1. I have weigh ins on friday.. and due to a cold I put on like 5lb extra I need to lose 15lb what u recommend Tim?

  26. Hey Tim,

    Fascinating post! I remember when I read your book the first time wondering what exactly was behind all this “hyper-hydration”… thanks for clarifying with this great information.


  27. Interesting, what are the long term effects of this on the body? Consuming hand moisturizer?

    Great Post !!!


  28. Fantastic article – been waiting for this one. Now to figure out how to get into an Ivy League school… Still have those tapes? 🙂

  29. Great post Tim. They should have you on as a guest coach on The Ultimate Fighter to bail out guys like Gabe Ruediger or Jason Guida. If that isn’t really your cup of tea than why not help Gina Carano out with her next weight cut 😉

  30. I’ve watched The Ultimate Fighter where they had a couple of guys drop 20+ pounds in 24 hours. By your accounts they did it completely wrong. The were exercising to do much of it. It looked torturous.

    I have always felt weigh-ins should be 1-5 hours before the fight. As it is now the advantage goes to the fighter that cuts weight better. This will unlikely change in pro sports because if someone misses their weight, the fight may be cancelled. Then you need to find a substitute. These are all obstacles that could be overcome but the status quo is harder to overcome.

  31. insane that competition weigh-ins are not on the spot (seconds before competition), thus outmoding this entire extreme and dangerous practice that has nothing to do with athletic competition.

  32. Having “weigh-ins” the day of the fight would eliminate this kind of extreme body manipulation. I’d put a fighter (who watched his nutrition and trained in his weight class) up against someone practicing these methods who weighed 30+ pounds heavier. Though the body is capable of responding in this way, it is not what the body was designed for. Extremely dangerous way of getting into your weight-class because you were lazy, procrastinated and ate poorly. I understand the value of science and experimenting, but most will use this type of information to “cheat” the boundaries of regulated sports.

  33. I do find it a shame that in every sport people act dishonestly.

    One of the main reasons I don’t care to watch professional sports is that every chance someone gets to cheat they do. In Football when someone fumbles you end up watching 10+ men piled together trying to wrench the ball that has already been acquired by one fellow at the bottom before the second guy had even landed on the pile.

    In Weight class stuff you find people pulling these kind of shenanigans so that they can battle someone else who isn’t even actually in their weight class. I don’t know all the mechanics but I find it odd that they don’t just weigh people the day of. Probably would make betting on the stuff more difficult ;).

    At any rate this is the more disturbing of the posts I’ve seen since I RSS’d you however considering how people tend to die these days trying to manipulate their weight in extreme ways I hardly feel that this will put too much more wood on the fire. Although you can most certainly expect some sort of drastic rise in hit counts for having the highest LB per HOUR on your title of any other site I’m sure.

  34. @Drew Nutritionist,

    Please share your suggestions for waxy maize starch or rice oligodextrin! I’m sure their are plenty of people who would love to know how you suggest both.



  35. Tim, wow dude, you shock me bruddah, this is some scarey stuff.

    As a former wrestler and bodybuilder, I have experienced some of this stuff and NONE of it is sane.

    But, if done correctly, and a gold medal is at stake, it sounds good to me!

    The craziest thing to me, is what the human body is capable of – I mean really, this is unreal what people can do and what they do to win.

    Quite amazing – maybe I respect the human body and it’s infinite powers TOO much? hmmmm


  36. Hey Tim,

    I was just wondering if you’d read the book “A Fighter’s Heart” by Sam Sheridan? He talks about cutting weight for a Mauy Thai fight where he uses a technique that supposedly saves your potassium stores. He doesn’t go into much detail about it (proprietary info, I guess), but it sounded sort of similar to what you’re trying to accomplish here.

    Either way, I’ll have to try this out next time I have to cut.

  37. Thanks for finally sharing how you did it. So many people have questioned this and you finally laid it out for the world to see. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

  38. Absolutely fascinating, but crazy… not sure why anyone would want to put their body under such hazardous duress? Great if you’ve made it work for you:) Interesting to me to learn that one can gain 2-3 pounds by taking a shower.

    One thing I didn’t see addressed: how much weight you consume/lose just by using your brain, and specifically, THINKING – it takes more energy than watching TV, for example. Maybe one could add doing some really challenging intellectual task to the list?:)

  39. Tim,

    Nice in-depth article, it all makes sense and it looks like you really your research on this one.

    The only thing I’m not really convinced of is the “micro-structured” water. Maybe it’s possible to create this, but then it will revert 100% to normal within a second, the interactions between water molecules are not that strong. Maybe the device can do something (make water more acidic / basic / reducing / oxidizing) I don’t know if that’s useful, but as I look at it, this is just a water filter using a micro-structured filter to get out all the bugs (that’s why they use it for burn victims, they’re a bit vulnerable to infections). You can’t even get distilled water out of it.

    The “digital electrolysis” was a dead giveaway though…

    1. Hi Hugo,

      Agreed on the “microstructured” water, hence the caveat in the piece. I just wanted to report the odd response to massive water consumption, which I found curious. I have since just reverted to distilled and purified water.



      1. Tim, do you find that drinking larger amounts of distilled and purified water allow you to go longer without having to pee as the microstructured water did? Do you find any difference between the distilled and purified water in the amount of time you drink it and how quickly you have to pee?



  40. How unbelievably irresponsible to post this. Countless teenage girls would kill for this type of information, with no concern for the risks to themselves. Please reconsider.

    1. Josie, this post doesn’t help someone improve appearance in the least. In fact, it makes people look like zombies. I have coached females athletes with eating disorders, and the weight-cutting approaches I have used have zero appeal to them. Keep in mind that there is a lot of cross-flow of information between gymnasts and wrestlers. The former have more body images issues than the latter. I’ve never met a wrestler who had psychosomatic body image issues; they cut weight to compete and win.

      I’m afraid I can’t prevent people who are set on anorexia/bulemia from misusing this information, but I don’t suspect they will. Not eating is easier.



  41. Now that’s some extreme, effective stuff.

    I’ve never had to cut weight for any type of sporting event, but have used water/carb manipulation for purely esthetic reasons aka “getting as lean as possible to satisfy your vanity.”

    A lot of the same principles apply (large amounts of water, decreased carbohydrate intake, cutting water, simple sugars, feeling like you’d do anything for a drink of water…)

    Great article.


  42. Tim,

    Can this principle (or principles like it) me modified to help me increase perfomance in a non-weigh-in sport such as CrossFit? Also, I tore my Achilles tendon doing box jumps on February 14th of this year, had surgery on the 19th and am now in recovery. You seem to have very innovative methods and I am wondering if you have any insight on a stronger/faster/more successful recovery.

    Thank you in advance,


    1. Hi Barry,

      All my wishes for a speedy recovery. I also tore my Achilles about 16 months ago. I hope to have much more to say about injury recovery soon. In the meantime, I highly suggest — assuming no gout other restrictions — 1 gram/protein per lean lb. bodyweight and getting about 10g of MSM in divided doses daily. Give it a shot and continue to ice on a nightly basis, followed immediately by very hot bath (foot submerged) and self-massage in that area. Get clearance from the surgeon or PT before using the heat treatment.



  43. Tim,

    Nice post. Insane. But nice. When I was ready to lose weight, one of my sources for hacking the loss was the cyclical ketogenic diet. Body builders know what they’re doing, results-wise. I never did stumble (or maybe I just didn’t pay attention to) the weigh-in strategies. Crazy.

    Given the right motivation (how big of a prize?), it seems like similarly results oriented people ought to be able to develop comparable, specific strategies for managing blood chemistry, probably the most interesting would be the various measures of cholesterol. Obviously the goal would be stable results, not a single point measurement … the “judging” would have to be long enough to avoid the vary “gaming” aspect highlighted by your article … maybe the average of 30 consecutive days’ measures.

    Or maybe this is already being or has already been done. Links?

  44. So it looks as if my comment was deleted. Sorry if it seemed harsh, but the physiology underlying this article is NOT sound. This is dangerous and unhealthy, no two ways about it.

    And also, microengineered water is. not. real.

    Hopefully this comment will make it through.


    From Tim:

    Hi Brian. The other comment you left was unnecessarily snarky and unconstructive, so, yes, it was deleted. Those are the rules.

    Please – if the science is unsound, leave a comment with suggestions for correcting it, or pointing out what — besides the microstructured water — should be fixed. Otherwise the criticism really isn’t helpful. If you have knowledge that can add to the discussion, please add it.



    1. @Brian,

      The other comment you left was unnecessarily snarky and unconstructive, so, yes, it was deleted. Those are the rules.

      Please – if the science is unsound, leave a comment with suggestions for correcting it, or pointing out what — besides the microstructured water — should be fixed. Otherwise the criticism really isn’t helpful. If you have knowledge that can add to the discussion, please add it.



  45. Tim,

    Do you have any recommendations for other microstructured water ionizers besides the Panasonic PJ-A3AH?

    I would (as well as others might) be interested in knowing what other products you have positive experiences with or recommend.


  46. No worries Tim, glad to,

    the minute you get off the scales and the weight is signed off then then you consume a solution of waxy maize starch, follow this up about 15 mins later with some (15-30g) whey. WMS is mostly amylopectin, a very high molecular weight carbohydrate and passes through the stomach very quickly. Basically anywhere were you would use glucose you could use this and get the job done more effectively.

    The rice oligodextrin would be used in a more ‘meal replacement’ context: with protein, and between whole food meals dependent upon needs/weight to be gained/sport etc… It’s (sometimes) given to those suffering acute dehydration in a clinical setting. A very good product.

    I’ve used both with martial artists and also endurance athletes who have major hydration issues (e.g. triaths who puke a lot on the swim).

    Again, great article. Really good reading.

  47. Thanks for the response to my response,

    Of course, sometimes you don’t need real scientific proof to know something works (science is a bit slow sometimes), but there’s so much known already, if you find out something new, it should fit in with the knowledge we had before (or it’s probably wrong).

    As far as I know, the only reason to drink distilled water with salt is that calcium (60/40 calcium/sodium in tap water here) is not as good for you as sodium. Is that the case? If not, then it’s also a waste of money / effort to drink distilled water, the ion content of tap water is negligible compared to the glycerol / salt you take with it.

    By the way, is the glycerol rehydration common? I work with bacteria, and for me the mechanism is quite straightforward, but I never thought somebody would try this on humans.

  48. I remember reading about your experience with this in your book. To read it in even more detail here is very fascinating. It would be awhile before I would even consider myself mentally ready to attempt this (not that I’m planning on going into any weight related competitions soon anyway!).

    I’ll leave this type of thing to the professionals. 🙂


  49. Timoy!

    Read ur book august 2008, says there “go to four hour for deatils on how i did IT ” (paraphrased by me), so i went on ur site. Im just wondering why it took you so long to post this article, [but correct me if im wrong if you already posted it before]


  50. Hi Tim,

    Couldn’t have picked a better photo for the article. Yes they both don’t cut, but they are also both highly recognizable outside of hardcore mma fans. If it wasn’t for mma, I wouldn’t know what weight cutting was.

    War Fedor.


  51. Fair enough.

    First, with regard to your comment:

    “It is imperative that athletes understand the distribution areas from which excess water, and not life-sustaining water, can be most safely excreted”

    There is no real separation between the two. The body is, for all intents and purposes, a continuous container of a single “pool” of water. Water moves relatively freely between compartments, for the most part, so there’s no way to separate between areas.

    The kind of weight loss you’re talking about, 30 lbs. (assuming it represents water loss and nothing else), at your starting weight, corresponds (by my calculations) to a loss of >40% of your plasma volume. This is, quite simply, dangerous, and is a real challenge to the system. In unconditioned, inexperienced individuals, this could be fatal.

    Additionally, your body will valiantly fight your efforts, increasing the generation of angiotensin II and aldosterone, as well as vasopressin. The mechanism by which the body resists large reductions in volume is the same mechanism by which it could cause widespread organ failure if the volume reduction is not rectified in a timely fashion.

    I agree with you that folks who are not prescribed diuretics like Lasix should steer clear, as major deviations in electrolyte levels can have serious consequences, including cardiac arrythmias that can lead to cardiac arrest.

    I would like to take issue with your statement regarding water uptake in the digestive tract. Aquaporins allow single-file movement of water molecules, it is true, but water also can cross the cell membrane itself, albeit more slowly. Additionally, water can move between the cells lining the digestive tract. You also seem to imply that solutes in the G.I. system lead to water excretion, but in fact the opposite is true. Water absorption in the intestines is entirely due to the movement of solute: For the most part, it follows sodium like a puppy. What’s more, your body can absorb pretty much however much water you throw at it; it’s REALLY good at it.

    If you drank conditioned water without excreting it, that’s a renal issue, not an absorption issue. In fact, if the conditioned water INCREASES water absorption by facilitating its movement through aquaporins, it should actually INCREASE urination, not decrease it.

    I get what you’re doing. For those getting ready for a fight, I suppose it’s the cost of doing business. But the fact remains that it’s downright dangerous, because a) there’s a lot to take into account, and b) it’s downright dangerous. I mean no disrespect, but I have to ask: Would you write an article about how to smoke cigarettes more effectively?

    1. @Brian,

      Thanks for the response. I actually agree with all of it and need to edit a bit, especially the portion related to solutes and water absorption vs. excretion. The renal vs. absorption issue is also important.

      To answer you last question, as you would suspect, I would not write an article on how to smoke cigarettes more effectively. Nor would I write an article about how to lose water weight more effectively.

      Cutting weight at these levels is dangerous, regardless of method, but some methods are still more dangerous than others. I recognize the process as an unfortunate element of these sports (until weigh-in timing is changed), so I’d rather point those involved towards methods that — while certainly still dangerous — are less likely to lead to acute organ failure a la furosemide or death otherwise.

      Appreciate the content, as I’m sure many other readers do as well. Are you an MD or naturopath?



  52. Thanks this will also help answer some questions that frequently come up on the message board 🙂

    I do think it needs to be loudly pointed out that this is a technique for atheletes. You need to be very healthy and in very good shape to attempt something like this. Of course, as Tim said, this is for information only.

    For those concerned about women and girls trying this, I hope the above rings clear. For advice on *fat* loss, please see Tim’s excellent post linked in at the top of this one: “How to Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days… Without Doing Any Exercise” – still not meant for those who are not in good health – Tim let me know if I am off base 🙂 Thanks!

  53. Tim

    I must say, without a doubt, the most in-depth post I believe I have ever read. Its amazing how our bodies can ‘work’ for us.

    Keep up the great work!

    Chris Ducker

    CEO, Live2Sell, Inc.

  54. The water cluster data makes sense. Most things in nature stick together as a result of hydrogen bonding, especially water molecules. Think filling up a glass of water to the very top and seeing it come above the brim without spilling over. There is no actual chemical bonding here, just an electrostatic attraction between the slightly negative oxygen and slightly positive hydrogen of two entirely separate H2O’s. Electrolysis of water throws a few more electrons on the O making H2O more negative. Hydrogen bonding is thereby strengthened and the surrounding water molecules are pulled in tighter generating smaller clusters. You would also see a peak shift in the NMR data as stated. Since the O17 isotope is becoming more “shielded” with electrons, it would push the frequency further “upfield” from 130 to 65.

    Generally speaking, since there are more aquaporins located in epithelial cells that comprise the inner lining of the digestive tract and subcutaneous layers of skin, it would make sense that hydration is enhanced.

  55. Fun article, not so practical for living, but theoretically interesting. On that note, bringing up the great photo again, it is amusing to know that the two men weight approx the same, that Fedor, who is 4 inches shorter knocked out the other fighter in the opening round, and is considered the world’s greatest heavy weight by most, both amazing men.

  56. Gross!

    I am truly a Tim Ferris Evangelist, but can we please get some blogs with prettier or more appealing pictures and imagery? Seriously, Meat, now Man Meat, what’s next… How to be the best darn butcher on the block?


    I know this is supposed to be about what Tim Ferris is into, however; doesn’t he like puppies or butterflies or flowers, art, music, delightful candies…..?

    Variety is the spice of life Timmy, make with the beauty! (I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt for you to pay a little more attention to the beauty around you), pretty please with sugar on top?


    (please excuse my affinity for punctuation)

  57. Tim,

    I wish we had this kind of information back during my elite wrestling days. I did a lot of crazy and painful starvation and dehydration stuff back then, but it was all based on not consuming anything – and doing tons of physical exercise with plastic suits on. I nearly lost my mind, and it definitely had an adverse impact on my performance in competition.

    I hate the fact that this kind of activity makes a difference in who wins and loses big championships, but until weigh-ins are just minutes before competition, it’s going to happen no matter what rules they try to pass against it.

    Thanks for a real eye-opener…even though I’m glad I will never need to use it!

    Paul K

  58. Great article to tickle my curiosity. I have become an avid 24 hour mountain bike racer and I am wondering how to increase my ability to be a camel. Store significant water. I don’t seem to be able to consume as much liquid as I am using.


  59. And my wife thought I was nuts when I mowed the lawn in August wearing three sets of sweatpants and hooded sweatshirts. I don’t think I’ll ever have the need to try this, but interesting reading nonetheless.

  60. Comrades, I hope you do take Tim’s “for informational purposes only” warning seriously. Such state of the art extreme measures may only be justified by athletes fighting for national or world titles, clearly understanding the risks, and aided by medical professionals.

  61. Tim – I’m a constant lurker of your blog and love most of your articles, but I gotta chime in on this one.

    Why does this article bug me? I’m the guy who has to show up 10 minutes after some twelve-year-old kid has had a stroke at a wresting match. First, I try to shove whatever fluids I can into his collapsed veins to keep him alive. Then I have to evaluate how much brain damage has occurred, all while hauling ass towards the local ER where they will explain to crying parents why their son will never be the same.

    I’m glad you put a few disclaimers on this article, as IMHO this is one of the stupidest and completely unnecessary dangerous practices that exist in the sports world. Yep… right up there with blood doping. I’d ask that if you keep this article up, that you at least add in a lot more bold disclaimers.

    Any medical practitioner that encourages or sponsors an athlete who employs such measures should have his credentials revoked ASAP, as they are not only permanently damaging their patient, but vicariously encouraging others to do the same to maintain competitive advantage.

    This is not a practice that should be encouraged…

    1. @eggman,

      Thank you for your comment, and I wholeheartedly agree that this practice is harmful. I hope you saw my emphasis to that effect. When I get back out of the UT mountains I will bold a few of those sections. My hope is that this approach, as extreme as it is, helps athletes avoid even more dangerous practices (wearing garbage bags in saunas, etc.) that are common and more blunt, which results in excessive and imprecise loss.

      It’s a sad fact that weight-class based athletes will do this regardless, so I’m trying to provide safer guidelines. I don’t want to encourage lots of casual sex among high schoolers, either, but I’m a realist and recognize that “just say no and abstain” doesn’t work and results in unintended pregnancies, etc. I’d rather have an open discussion and offer condoms to those who will do it regardless, which is the vast majority.

      Thank you for your comment,


  62. Tim, I love ya. I believe your message of strength/stretching/transcendence do humanity good (not kidding), and it helped me personally with momentum in a dark hard hour last year. I’m a major Tim Ferriss fan.

    I believe you should make of your freedom what you will, so maybe it’s pointless to say this and I REALLY hope it doesn’t come across as pointlessly negative, but I will ask: to what end, my friend?

    Health is probably the most precious thing we have, the foundation, and enhancing it and extending life makes utter good sense, but spending time on physical aesthetics and its endless intricacies…. can’t we do better?? I see a physical excellence as a kind of symbolic success, but you show us better/higher forms of excellence and success Tim…

    Again, it’s not about what’s OK to pursue; you’re hurting no one with all this anyway. It’s about what’s BEST to pursue, and -dammit I’ll just say it!- we are better off when Tim Ferris turns his power to improving the world, because you are very good at it!!

    OK, in the name of consistency I’ll shut up and refocus on the best way to spend my own time: forgive the indiscretion! You owe none of your readers any justification, or anything for that matter… All my best Tim, sincerely.

  63. venhi, you sound like someone who has studied chemistry. That being the case, you should know that water doesn’t form stable clusters. It is dynamic, and water molecules are forming and breaking such H-bond interactions constantly. While water clusters probably do form, it should be emphasized that no stable cluster has ever been isolated in bulk water. These things, if they do exist at all, exist across times on the order of a picosecond or less.

    The clustered water idea seems to come from the theory that water exists in two states: an ice-like “cluster” structure, or a broken hydrogen bond state. Water molecules, then, essentially toggle between the two. What is more likely the case is that the two states are on opposite ends of a continuum.

    Electrolysis of pure water generates hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions, and electrolysis of tap water would probably generate an assortment of products, depending upon the constituent electrolytes. It would not merely add electrons to oxygen, resulting in stronger H-bonds.


    In answer to your question, I am a medical student, working toward my MD. Thanks for your response, sorry to have started off so snarkily.

  64. Cutting weight is a very essential tool in athletics and especially in MMA. Getting to your “lowest” possible weight gives you the biggest advantage in your weight class.

    You look at 170 in the UFC. GSP, Fitch, and Alves all walk into the ring at 185+. Alves has said he walked into the ring during his last fight at 199. GSP vs. Alves will be a good example of cutting weight.

    I cut to 149 for my no-gi NAGA matches and after Arnolds 09, I will cut to 139. The guys in my class easily walk around at 170+ day of. That is a tough guard to break!

  65. Hey Tim I read all the books suggested at the end of 4hww. I also enjoyed The Power of Less by leo. any book suggestions?


    Ps I was myself somewhere deep in Yucatan when you were in Vietname so I didn’t have the chance to tell you to try the restaurant Green Tangerine in Hanoi. The place is close to the water puppet show.

    Ps again… By the way is funny that I discover your book reading El Clarin on a lazy afternoon in Buenos Aires

    1. @Marcos,

      El Clarin in BsAs! I love it. For book recommendations, I suggest Letters from a Stoic by Seneca. Life-altering.

      All the best,


  66. I can understand why people don’t like athletes weight cutting, but would weigh in directly before the match really be safer? Would that not just encourage people to cut weight and then fight still dehydrated?

    May not be as big an issue in wrestling etc but for anything that you are getting hit in the head I would think it is safer to allow the full 24 hours to re-hydrate the brain at least.

    I think the best suggestion so far has been the weigh in for several consecutive days, but the logistics of this would be prohibitive.

  67. Wish I knew this as a high-school wrestler. My brute approach was the dont-drink-anything, wear-a-garbage-bag-constantly, enema-before-weigh-in approach to drop 10 pounds in a day so I could get to 129.

  68. Hi,

    Although this is a great way to drop some pounds on the time of weigh in then add some pounds by the time its time to fight, is it morally acceptable? A lot of fighters do this which enables them to fight in weight categories which maybe they should not be allowed to as they are seen as too big for them (apart from the time of weigh in) and may have to much of an advantage. I think for this reason weigh ins should be about an hour or so before the actual fight.

    Great blog by the way. I just found it.

  69. Amazing understanding of the human body, Tim.

    What baffles me, is that from a practical point of view, if all athletes are trying to weigh in at 20 to 30 lbs lighter, does this not defeat the purpose of the weight classes?

    I.e. if there are 3 athletes of 220 lbs, who all weigh in under 200 lbs – that’s a lot of effort to go to, when effectively they would be competing against each other anyway in a higher class.

    Of course, not all athletes use these techniques, but it would seem, at the top, there are many using some technique to varying degrees of effect.

    At what point does it become a competition of hydration techniques? It seems both incredibly interesting and ludicrous to me.

  70. Tim,

    Awesome blog. I’m in a sport that requires weekly weigh-ins, about 15-16 hours before racing. Is this kind of stuff healthy if I have to do it every week?

    1. @Ken,

      Losing this amount of weight weekly is not healthy at all. In fact, cutting weight like this should be minimized whenever possible. That said, losing 5-10 lbs. of water weight if you are 180-lb.+ male is generally quite easy, even by simply cutting water intake to 1/3 and purified, while consuming a few more cups of coffee.

      Good luck!


  71. I was running sprints wearing plastic bags, and eating only eggs for two days to cut weight for football—at the age of 15. Everyone on the team near the weight limit did it (usually in the 5-10 pound range). We were fine and got to play. This wasn’t encouraged for long term behavior, but you had to do it to make weight and play.

    EVERYONE in wrestling (not fake pro-wrestling) does this. I wish I had know a little bit more about how to do it…might have won more matches.

  72. –a respectful comment, with a carefully-worded polite challenge gets deleted— maybe I just changed my idea of Tim Ferriss…

  73. Tim,

    Definitely a lot of information to ingest. I wish I would have read this post 6 years ago when I constantly battled the weight-cutting game in high school wrestling. I always considered myself to be smart and methodical about my weight-cutting however it was never healthy since I didn’t follow half of your prescribed de-hydrate/re-hydrate methods.

    A question kind of on a similar but different topic, what is your opinion of the Master Cleanse (lemonade consisting of lemons, organic grade B syrup, cayenne pepper and of course tons of filtered water)?!? I’m doing it right now and have read nothing but good about it. You seem to always offer great advice or tips on how to handle these experiences. I’m on day 4 and still battling some headaches, but the body feels a bit euphoric. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated, though I know you’re a busy guy. Have you ever cleansed? If so, which cleanse and what were your experiences?? Saludos, espero que sigas con la pura vida!

  74. Tim,

    Thanks for the article. I love the sport of San Da, San Shou. I have been training Shuai Jiao for a few years now. Not for sport.

    Have a wonderful day


  75. Thanks for your consideration.

    I understand that it is difficult to constantly publish new and intriguing material every week. God know I couldn’t do it. Just saying that IMHO this kind of article does a disservice to the high quality that you’ve consistently produced on this blog.

    I’m glad to see that somebody is getting to take advantage of the snow. I’ve been tied down with school work for the last two weeks and I’m getting antsy for a few more days before season’s end. Which resort(s) have you been hitting? Any snow left up there?

  76. Tim, I’m confused about the salt/non-salt baths.

    I thought that an Epsom salt bath draws more water out of the skin, just like any other cell wall. So, I thought that you’d take a hot salt bath to dehydrate, and (ideally) a distilled water bath to re-hydrate.

    Now, this article mentions that one study (only one, and unpublished) found that the salts could diffuse across the stratum corneum, putting higher concentrations in the blood. Is this the basis of your technique? That “saltier” blood will take up more of that water you’re drinking to rehydrate?

    I’ve been taking hot Epsom salt baths once a week to help getting “ripped”. I like the results the next morning… but maybe I could be doing it better, with your help. Thanks.

    1. @Dardekeas,

      That’s a very good question. Your logic seems sound to me. I’d be very curious to see the results if you decide to compare you pre- and post-bath weights using a purified/tap bath one day and an Epsom-salt bath the next. No need to cut weight, of course. Other If you do it, please let me know what happens. I’ll give it a shot as well, if I remember.

      All the best,


  77. I am amazed that you can lose that much weight and gain that much weight in that short of a time period. Now I know why in some of those MMA fights one guy looks way bigger than the guy they are fighting. He could be 20 pounds heavier.

  78. After reading this post and all the comments I am left with one thought in mind.

    Not if you could do it, rather should you do it?

    You apparently have a loyal following and are a very smart person. So why do you start of by saying!

    So lets add another item to the list of impossible: I have lost more than 20 pounds in less than 24 hours on more than a dozen occasions.

    To me this sounds like a bold endorsement for something you know is dangerous after reading your comments.

    I understand your reasoning, but I think you should be a little more responsible on how you give out this type of information.

    How about explaining more of the possible health consequences?

    This reminds me of an article I once read about using steroids, the author said it was for information purposes only.

    But then gave detailed information on how to use and get around being tested for them as well, knowing full well that he just endorsed the use of them.

    Being in shape is about treating your body with respect to live a long and healthy life.

    If you are going to compete in sports it really shouldn’t matter if you are 30 pounds heavier or lighter than the other person to compete against them.

    Isn’t this the whole point of being a better athlete, may the better man win?

    If you were on the street would this be a consideration?

  79. @ Brian

    Everything in nature is constantly changing conformation at the molecular level so you are correct in stating that if water clusters do exist it may be at a picosecond or less. That would also be true for the simplest water cluster- a dimer- which are two separate water molecules attracted to each other via hydrogen bonding. However the fact remains that we simply do not yet have a full understanding of the role of H-bonding in nature. As a non-covalent, weaker chemical bond, it is indeed a bit more difficult to observe using current technology. We do however know that they are extremely important and they are ubiquitous.

    Take the H-bonding that stabilizes the DNA double helix (G to C and T to A). Its presence implies a critical role in the onset of all genetic diseases. Another example is our biochemical “processor “-the enzyme (a vast array of tertiary and quaternary proteins) whose 3-D conformation is attributed to H-bonding that maintain folding of long peptide chains.

    In “The Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences”

    Rich Saykally from Berkeley states,

    “We remain unable to accurately calculate the properties of liquid water…Moreover,

    the reliability of water models for simulating…biological processes remains relatively untested”

    I wouldn’t try convince anyone that stable water clusters exist in bulk water because that cannot be concluded. Although I also wouldn’t try to convince anyone that they don’t exist either because that too has never been concluded. Although much of the data obtained through computational chemistry displaying a wide range of H2O clusters based on simulations is extremely intriguing. As scientists we have a responsibility to relay to the public all of the tested (and repeatable) information reported in the most prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journals such as PNAS. After all, their tax dollars are what is paying for much of this.

  80. Tim im gonna do my best to follow you methods next time i fight.I wish you formatted the steps in a simpler form ,maybe at the end . I walk at 158(lean) and fight 145 do you think fighting at 139 or 135 is a big no no?can i even cut that much? p.s any time you want to learn 10th planet jiu jitsu it would be my pleasure to teach.

    Scott “Einstein”Epstein

  81. A great mma example of successful cutting would be Sherk. Drops 30+ to fight and is explosive. Regardless of his recent losses or the steroids, he was the largest 155# fighter around simply because he was a 190# fighter that made weight.

  82. Tim,

    I thought Dandelion LEAF was the powerful diuretic, not ROOT. It is my understanding that root is primarily used as a detox herb, whereas leaf is the potassium friendly diuretic.


  83. This blog is very interesting for two reasons: Physical Extremes & Education.

    Physical Extremes: Sadly, most people do not push themselves physically these days. Out of shape people seem to outnumber healthy people 10-1. I am glad there is so much interest on becoming the best at a physical activity whether or not one thinks this example is healthy or not. The interest in such is much more appealing to me.

    Education: I love the fact that you present the dangers in doing such tactics. I cannot see myself going to these extremes but your explanation has made me much more knowledgeable about weight/water cutting.

    As always….Thanks for the info Tim…


  84. Tim,

    I once participated in a hydration lab as part of a combat medicine course.

    A premise of the course was that many modern rehydration methods are ineffective and even counterproductive.

    Participants were split into four groups and hydrated with either plain water, water with ORS, Gatorade or IV’s. My notes are several states away right now, but I think the amounts were around one gallon per hour for four hours.

    Most participants in the Gatorade group developed fairly bad diarrhea. I was in the plain water group, which developed symptoms of hyponatremia. It was surprisingly miserable. The IV group (plain saline) developed ridiculous edema. They looked like Michelin men.

    The only group that didn’t suffer much was the ORS group. They didn’t have the edema, hyponatremia (headache, fatigue, etc) or diarrhea of the other groups. As I recall, they also didn’t excrete quite as much (we measured urinary excretion down to the milliliter and graphed it over the four hours).

    All groups except for the ORS group reported adverse effects for around 24 hours after.

    Most of that seems fairly common-sense, but experiencing it firsthand was a dramatic learning experience.

    1. Dear Craig,

      Thanks so much for the comment! I do need to update this article and will do so. For those unfamiliar with ORS (oral replacement salts), here is an article from Dr. Paul Auerbach on

      When dehydration occurs, it is important to act swiftly. If fluid losses are significant, begin to replace liquids as soon as you can.

      Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) that meet World Health Organization standards are available in a dry mix; use one packet per quart (liter) of water. One packet contains sodium chloride 3.5 grams, potassium chloride 1.5 g, glucose 20 g, and trisodium citrate 2.9 g (or sodium bicarbonate 2.5 g). Cera Lyte 70 oral rehydration salts are based on a rice solution. One packet is mixed with a quart (liter) of water. After the solution is prepared, it should be consumed or discarded within 12 hours if kept at room temperature or 24 hours if kept refrigerated. Other ORS products available over-the-counter include Pedialyte, Enfalyte, Naturalyte, and Rehydralyte.

      1. Mild diarrhea/hydration: Drink soda water, clear juices, broth, and electrolyte-containing sports beverages. If diarrhea is the cause, try to replace each diarrheal stool with 10 milliliters of ORS per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. If the child is vomiting, try to replace each episode of vomiting with 2 mL of ORS per kg (2.2 lb) of body weight.

      2. Moderate diarrhea/dehydration: Drink diluted (by half, with water) electrolyte-containing sports beverages, mineral water (bottled), or a homemade solution (1 quart or liter of disinfected water plus 1/2 to 1 teaspoon, or 1.3 to 2.5 mL, of sodium chloride [table salt], 1/2 tsp of sodium bicarbonate [baking soda], 1/4 tsp, or 0.6 mL, of potassium chloride [salt substitute], and glucose [6 to 8 tsp, or 30 to 40 mL, of table sugar; or 1 to 2 tbsp, or 15 to 30 mL, of honey]). Take care not to over-sweeten (exceed 2 to 2.5% glucose) the solution with sugar, because this may worsen the diarrhea; too high a sugar concentration inhibits water absorption through the gastrointestinal tract. Each quart of this “home brew” should be alternated with 1/2 to 1 quart of plain disinfected water. Try to replace fluid losses at least every 2 hours.

      When using ORS, try to get the victim to ingest a quart per hour until the frequency of urination begins to increase and the urine color turns light or clear. To begin, start with small (e.g. 5 mL or one teaspoon) amounts every 1 to 2 minutes, to avoid collection of a large amount of fluid in the stomach that might cause vomiting. A child should be given 11/2 oz (44 mL) of ORS per pound (0.45 kg) of body weight over the first 4 hours, then 1 ounce (30 mL) of ORS per pound of body weight per 8-hour period until the diarrhea resolves. Another estimate of fluid replacement for children is 100 ml (approximately 3 oz) of fluid per significant loose bowel movement. For an infant with diarrhea, decrease the amount of milk in the diet, and add more water, diluted juices, half-strength sports beverages, and ORS. Sweetened carbonated beverages (soda pop) are not good replacement fluids, because they contain too much sugar and little or no sodium and potassium. If the child is breast-fed, keep nursing (offer the breast more often). If the child is formula-fed, use ORS for 12 to 24 hours, then try switching back to formula. If the diarrhea persists switch back to ORS for another cycle. It is important to continue to provide nourishment with food (and calories) to children with diarrhea, not fluid alone. Avoid foods high in simple sugars (including tea, juices, and soft drinks). Try complex carbohydrates (rice, wheat, potatoes, bread, cereals) and yogurt, lean meat, fruits, and vegetables.

      If premeasured salts are not available with which to supplement water, you can alternate glasses of the following two fluids, as recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service:

      GLASS ONE — 8 oz fruit juice with 1/4 tsp (a “pinch”) table salt and 1/2 tsp honey or corn syrup (237 mL juice, 1.3 mL table salt, 2.5 mL honey or corn syrup)

      GLASS TWO — 8 oz disinfected water with 1/4 tsp baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) (237 mL water, 1.3 mL baking soda)

      Another homemade fluid mixture is 1 tsp (5 mL) table salt and 1 cup (275 mL) rice cereal in a quart (liter) of water; this must be used within 12 hours or discarded. If only fruit juice (without supplementation) is available, remember to cut it to half strength with water. Otherwise, the sugar content will be too high and may contribute to continued diarrhea. Estimation techniques to measure powdered ingredients (such as a “pinch” of table salt) are notoriously inaccurate, and can even be dangerous if you add excessive amounts. Use a proper measuring implement whenever possible.

      3. Severe diarrhea/dehydration: Same as moderate. After a certain point, as with cholera, intravenous hydration may be lifesaving. See a physician as soon as possible.

      Sometimes, offering liquids to drink is not sufficient to diminish the nausea and vomiting that accompany an episode of gastroenteritis. If a person cannot ingest sufficient liquid, the diarrhea persists. In a recent article in the Annals of Emergency Medicine (Ann Emerg Med 2008:52:22-29) entitled “The role of oral ondansetron in children with vomiting as a result of acute gastritis/gastroenteritis who have failed oral rehydration therapy: a randomized controlled trial,” the authors concluded that in subjects with acute gastritis/gastroenteritis and mild to moderated dehydration who failed initial oral rehydration therapy, the proportion of children who subsequently required intravenous hydration was lower in a group treated with ondansetron (Zofran) in a dose of 0.15 mg/kg body weight of the oral dissolving tablet, as compared to a group that did not receive the drug.

      Having suffered nausea and vomiting from acute infectious gastroenteritis while traveling, I can attest to the benefit of ondansetron in providing sufficient relief to allow me to be able to begin to drink liquids and thereby rehydrate. Given that this observation is fairly common among clinicians in the field, and that this study strongly points to a benefit of the drug for children in whom oral rehydration is prevented by persistent nausea and vomiting, it makes perfect sense to carry a drug such as this, with limited side effects, that might allow initiation of essential replenishment of body fluid.