How To Lose 20–30 Pounds In 5 Days: The Extreme Weight Cutting and Rehydration Secrets of UFC Fighters

Nate Green workout and nutrition tests collage showing feet on a scale, dietician's hand on his stomach, vertical jump test using ladder rungs, chest circumference measurement with tape.

The following is a guest post by Nate Green, who works with Dr. John Berardi, nutritional advisor to athletes like UFC champion Georges St. Pierre (GSP).

This is the first of two blog posts entailing extreme physical experiments. Absolutely no performance enhancing drugs of any kind were used.

Part 1 — this post — details exactly how top fighters like Georges St. Pierre rapidly lose 20-30 pounds for “weigh-ins.” To refine the method, Nate performed this on himself, losing 20 pounds in 5 days. The unique part: Dr. Berardi and team measured key variables throughout the entire process, including the last “rehydration” phase. As Berardi put it:

“We used GSP’s exact protocol with him [Nate]. The idea was that by doing this with a guy who didn’t actually have to compete the next day, we could measure all sorts of performance variables that you’d never get with an athlete about to fight.”

Part 2 — the next post — will share how Nate used intermittent fasting and strategically planned eating to gain 20 pounds in 28 days, emulating a fighter who wants (or needs) to move up a weight class in competition.

Cautionary Note on Part 1

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters put it all out in the open for the world to see: they kick, punch, laugh, cry, and bleed in front of thousands of arena fans and millions more watching at home.

But even if you’re a hardcore fan who knows all the stats, there’s something behind the scenes that you’ve probably never seen in full: world-class weight manipulation

Done right, it can significantly increase a fighter’s chances of winning. An athlete will artificially lower his weight for pre-fight weigh-ins, then show up to the actual fight 10, 20, or even 30 pounds heavier than his opponent. It’s a game changer.

Done wrong, it can make even the toughest guy lose his edge… and probably the fight. There’s serious risk of organ failure if done haphazardly.

Even though boxers and wrestlers have been manipulating weight in this fashion for decades, it has the air of illicit activity. And though it’s legal in MMA competition, you should never try this at home or without medical supervision. Excessive dehydration can kill you. “Cutting weight” has no place in real-world dieting or behavior.

This is NOT an article on sustainable weight loss or healthy living. Rather, it’s a fascinating look at how far athletes and scientists will go to manipulate the human body for competitive advantage.

Here’s how it works…

Enter Nate

Imagine this: It’s Saturday night and you’re a top-ranked MMA fighter who just stepped into the cage to fight for the 170-pound Welterweight Championship.

Question: How much do you weigh?

The answer may seem obvious: 170 pounds, right? But if you followed the steps of extreme weight manipulation, the real answer is that you weigh somewhere between 185 and 190 pounds. That’s 15-20 pounds more than the “cutoff” weight of 170.

24 hours before you stepped into the cage, however, you did in fact weigh 170 pounds. You had to. Friday night was the official weigh-in where you and your opponent both stripped down to your skivvies, stepped on the scale in front of the judge, and prayed that the number on the scale hit 170 or lower.

But once you stepped off that scale it was a race to gain weight.

I find this kind of physiological puppetry very interesting. Most of us regular guys have a hard time gaining or losing just 5 pounds at a time.

But the top combat athletes can lose up to 30 pounds in just 5 days leading up to the fight. Then they can gain nearly all of it back in the 24 hours between weighing in and going toe-to-toe.

They do this to gain a massive competitive advantage. In other words, the bigger guy who retains more of his strength, agility, and endurance will likely win. The guy who weighs in at 170 — and then fights at 170 — often has a world of hurt coming his way.

That’s why Anderson Silva – arguably the world’s best MMA fighter — normally fights in the 185-pound class even though he actually weighs 215 pounds. A few days before he fights, Anderson “cuts” 30 pounds to make weight…then gains most of his weight back in 24 hours in time for his fight.

Georges St Pierre — arguably the world’s 2nd best fighter – normally walks around at 195 pounds. He ends up cutting 25 pounds to make his 170 pound weight class, and then gains 20 of it back before his fight.

Sneaky, huh?

Just how do these guys do it? And what does this rapid weight loss and weight gain do to their performance?

My Extreme Weight Manipulation Experiment

I’m lucky enough to be friends with Dr. John Berardi and Martin Rooney, two guys who regularly work with UFC athletes.

Recently, I told them I wanted to see what cutting weight was like. Is it really possible for a regular guy like me to drop 20 pounds in a few days then gain all of it back in 24 hours?

And if it was possible, what would it feel like? I heard cutting weight was one of the hardest things fighters do throughout their career. Was I man enough to handle it? Or would I give up when things got tough?

They agreed to help me cut 20 pounds in one week, and then put it all back on again in 24 hours.

Nervous doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt.

The Smart Way To Cut Weight Fast

Nate Green before cutting

Before pics. Full of water and feeling happy.

Now extreme weight manipulation can go horribly, horribly wrong. Even a lot of UFC guys don’t know how to do it the smart way. Instead, they put their bodies in real harm by doing stupid things like taking a lot of diuretics, not drinking any water, skipping meals, wearing trash bags while exercising (sometimes in the sauna) and generally being idiotic.

They lose weight, of course. But they also lose energy and power and develop one bad temper. None of which helps during fight time.

With the help of Dr. Berardi and Rooney, I decided to take a smarter route, instead of putting my health in serious jeopardy.

I started at 190.2 pounds and had 5 days to lose 20 pounds.

Here’s a breakdown of the nutritional strategies we used — the same one Georges St Pierre and other elite MMA fighters use before a big fight. (Remember: we know this because Dr. Berardi is Georges’ nutrition coach).


Dropping weight fast is all about manipulating your water and sodium levels.

For a fighter who wants to cut weight quickly and safely, here’s how much water he would consume in the 5 days leading up to his weigh-in:

Sunday – 2 gallons

Monday – 1 gallon

Tuesday – 1 gallon

Wednesday – .5 gallons

Thursday – .25 gallons

Friday – No water till after weigh-in at 5PM.

As you can see, the amount of water starts high with two gallons and decreases with each day till he’s drinking hardly any water on Thursday and Friday.

This is to ensure their body gets into “flushing mode.”

By drinking lots of water early on, the fighter’s body will down-regulate aldosterone, a hormone that acts to conserve sodium and secrete potassium.

And when he suddenly reduces the amount of water he drinks in the middle and end of the week, his body will still be in flushing mode, meaning he’ll hit the bathroom to pee a lot even though he’s hardly drinking any water.

What happens when you excrete more fluid than you take in? Bingo! Rapid weight loss.


Since one gram of carbohydrate pulls 2.7 grams of water into the body, it’s important for fighters to keep their carb intake low.

By doing this, they also deplete muscle glycogen (a source of energy) and keep their body in “flush mode”.


These are carbs that should be avoided entirely while cutting.


Fighters have to eat something. Since they’re avoiding carbs, Dr. Berardi advises them to load up on high-quality protein like meats, eggs or a vegetarian sources of protein. It’s also the perfect opportunity to eat lots of leafy vegetables (like spinach) and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower).

Georges St Pierre normally has his meals prepared by a private chef so he doesn’t even have to think about this stuff or make decisions. Recommended reading: here’s an entire article detailing GSP’s training diet.


Since the body likes to hold on to sodium (which will hold on to water), dropping salt helps the fighter’s body flush water out.


This step isn’t always necessary, but it can help when you’re getting down to the wire and still need to lose water. Opt for a natural diuretic like dandelion root, but wait until the last 2 days to use it.


We sweat a lot in hot environments. However, we sweat the most in hot, humid environments. Since hot water offers both heat and 100% humidity, fighters lose water quickly by taking hot baths and fully submerging everything but their nose for 10 minutes at a time.


This is the “finishing touch” to flush the last few pounds of water and is only used on the last few days leading up to the weigh-in.

The Weight Cut Schedule

So if we take all of that and break it into a weekly plan, it looks like this:


Carbs: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starches, or sugars.

Protein and Fat: As much as you want in 3 meals

Water: 2 gallons

Salt: None


Carbs: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starches, or sugars.

Protein and Fat: As much as you want in 3 meals

Water: 1 gallon

Salt: None


Carbs: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starches, or sugars.

Protein and Fat: As much as you want in 3 meals

Water: 1 gallon

Salt: None


Carbs: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starches, or sugars.

Protein and Fat: As much as you want in 3 meals

Water: 0.5 gallon

Salt: None

Sauna in afternoon


Carbs: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starches, or sugars.

Protein and Fat: As much as you want in 3 meals

Water: 0.25 gallon

Salt: None

Sauna in afternoon for 30 minutes, hot water bath at night


Carbs: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starches, or sugars.

Protein and Fat: Eat 2 very small meals until weigh in

Water: None till weigh-in

Salt: None

Sauna until weight is met

(Note from Tim: You can download the entire weight-manipulation plan that Nate used here: Weight Loss and Rehydration Protocol.)

What It Feels Like To Cut Weight

Nate Green after cutting weight

Dry as a bone and none to happy about it.

So that all looks fine on paper. But what does it actually feel like to go through it?

One word: Hell.

I started my cut on Sunday at 190 pounds. Here’s a quick rundown of what it looked like.


I carry a gallon water jug with me wherever I go, which makes me feel ridiculous. But I have to make sure I get my two gallons of water in. Overall, though, I feel fine. It actually doesn’t seem that difficult. I’m not sure what the big deal is.


I’m starting to miss the taste of salt. All of my food is bland. Now I’m drinking one gallon of water instead of two. Still not that bad.


I go to the bathroom 13 times in one day. A new record, I believe. And I’m still drinking a gallon of water.


Now I’m down to half gallon of water per day, which means I have to ration it out, which feels weird. I have a little with breakfast, a little with lunch, and a little with dinner. It’s definitely not enough water.

My mouth is dry. I feel dehydrated. I’m drinking straight espresso instead of drip coffee because it contains too much water.

In the evening, I try my first hot water bath. I generally enjoy baths, but this one’s different. My apartment’s water doesn’t get as hot as Dr. Berardi wants it to be — “hot enough to cause moderate pain but not burn your hand” — so I fill two pots and a kettle with water, put them on the stovetop until they boil, and pour them into the bath tub.

I get into the bath and immediately regret the decision.

10 minutes later, I’m lying naked in the middle of my living room trying to catch my breath. My eyes are rolled back into my head. My entire body feels like a giant heartbeat. I want to drink some water, but can’t.

This is starting to be less fun.


I am a zombie. A zombie who sits. Mostly in the sauna or on the couch.

In the sauna I watch beads of sweat collect on my skin. I see my precious water run down my arms and chest and legs and know that I won’t be able to replenish any of it when I get out.

I only have .25 gallons of water to last me the entire day. I’m ready for this to be over.


I look sick, very sick.

I spend the last 30 minutes before the weigh-in in the sauna and drink four sips of water throughout the entire day…

What Cutting Weight Does To Performance

OK, I’ll save you the rest of the journal entries and share some performance data.

While the fighters are tested in competition, no one has ever really documented how much strength or power they lose by dehydrating. (Or how much strength and power they regain after they get all their weight back.)

So we decided to check.

And it turns out, losing 20 pounds in 5 days is not conducive to being strong, powerful, or agile. (Surprise!) I couldn’t jump as high, lift as much weight, or run as fast or as long as I had just a week before during our baseline testing.


Baseline: 31.7 inches

After Dehydration: 27.6 inches


Baseline: 15 reps

After Dehydration: 5 reps


Baseline: 3 minutes and 14 seconds of sprinting at 8mph with 6% incline

After Dehydration: 1 minute and 28 seconds of sprinting at 8mph with 3% incline

It’s no wonder these guys try to gain all their weight back immediately after weighing in. They’d be screwed if they didn’t.

Speaking of which…

The Smart Way To Gain Weight Fast

Once UFC athletes cut weight and weigh-in, they’d never be able to perform at a top level. (Which is obvious from my less-than-stellar performance in the gym).

So what do they do next? They gain as much weight as humanly possible in 24 hours.

Here’s how they do it. (And how I did it, too.)


According to Dr. Berardi, the body can absorb only about 1 liter (2.2 pounds) of fluid – at maximum – in an hour. So he advises the fighters he works with to not to drink any more than that. Instead, he tells them to sip 1 liter (2.2 pounds) of water per hour.

However, the fighters won’t retain all that fluid. In fact, probably about 25% of it will be lost as urine.

So, here’s the math for someone like Georges St Pierre:

  • 9 liters (20 pounds) of water to get back.
  • 11 liters (25 pounds) of fluid between Friday weigh-in and Saturday weigh-in to get it all back.
  • 24 hours in which to do it. 8 of which he’ll be sleeping and 3 of which will be leading up to Saturday weigh-in.

This leaves 13 total hours for rehydration.

So as soon as Georges steps off the scale, he literally slams a liter of water and carries the bottle around with him, refilling it and draining it every hour until 3 hours before his fight. (There isn’t a bathroom in the cage.)


Now’s also the time for fighters to load up on carbs and pull all the water they’re drinking back into their muscles. It also helps them feel more human and look less sickly. (Something I definitely experienced during my super-hydration phase.)

Dr. Berardi has his fighters eat a big meal directly after they weigh in. He doesn’t restrict calories – his athletes can eat as much as they want in that meal as long as it’s healthy food like lean meats, sweet potatoes, rice, and vegetables. (Gorging on junk food is a bad idea.)

Then on Saturday (fight day), Dr. Berardi has his fighters eat a satisfying amount of healthy food in a few small meals leading up to the fight.


Since sodium helps the body retain water, fighters are encouraged to add extra salt to their meals.

Here’s what my super rehydration schedule looked like:

The Weight-Gain Schedule


Carbs: Eat as much as you want in one meal after weigh-in and testing

Protein and Fat: Eat as much as you want in one meal after weigh-in and testing

Rehydration Beverage: Drink 1 liter of water mixed with 1/2 scoop of carbohydrate/protein drink for every hour you’re awake. (We used Surge Workout Fuel.)

Salt: Salt food


Carbs: Eat satisfying amount in four meals before weigh-in

Protein: Eat satisfying amount in four meals before weigh-in

Rehydration Beverage: Drink 1 liter of water mixed with 1/2 scoop of carbohydrate/protein drink for every hour you’re awake but stop 3 hours before testing.

What Gaining Weight Does To Performance

Nate Green after rehydration

Back to normal-ish.

First things first: Personally, I ended up gaining 16.9 pounds back in 24 hours. Not bad.

But the real question: How much strength and power do you really gain when you super-hydrate?

Answer: A lot.

While I didn’t perform as well as my baseline (when I did all the performance tests before I started the experiment), I got really close. Which means that even though I put my body through a week of torture, it was almost 100%.

And I totally annihilated my performance numbers from just 24 hours before when I was sickly and dehydrated.

I ran faster and longer, jumped higher, and lifted more weight for more reps.


Baseline: 31.7 inches

After Dehydration: 27.6 inches

Re-hydrated: 29 inches


Baseline: 15 reps

After Dehydration: 5 reps

Rehydrated: 12 reps


Baseline: 3 minutes and 14 seconds of sprinting at 8mph with 6% incline

After Dehydration: 1 minute and 28 seconds of sprinting at 8mph with 3% incline

Rehydrated: 3 minutes and 25 seconds of sprinting at 8mph with 6% incline

Lose Weight. Gain Weight. Fight.

For an MMA fighter, this is about the time when he’d be getting ready to step in the cage and fight, which means it’s about the same time you’d turn on the TV and see him in his corner, jumping up and down, getting psyched and ready for battle.

How much does he weigh?

It’s safe to say at least 10-30 pounds more than the weight class he’s fighting in.

And now you know the “secret” to extreme weight manipulation, something 99.9% of guys who watch MMA will never know.

Pretty cool, right?

If you have questions, please put them in the comments and Dr. Berardi and I will do our best to answer them.


Nate’s not done yet. Next, we’ll have Part 2 – How To Gain 20 Pounds in 28 Days: The Extreme Muscle Building Secrets of UFC Fighters.

For more about Nate and his writing, check out his blog.

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.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

904 Replies to “How To Lose 20–30 Pounds In 5 Days: The Extreme Weight Cutting and Rehydration Secrets of UFC Fighters”

  1. I know a lot of high school wrestlers try to do the same thing. They usually go about the process the wrong way, and end up doing bad things to their body. I realize it isn’t advisable for young adults to do this sort of thing, so what would be the maximum advisable amount of weight for a high school wrestler to lose?

    1. High school wrestlers typically only have a few hours between weigh-ins and competition. Because of this they aren’t left with adequate time to rehydrate and replenish the muscle glycogen that is lost in the method listed above. For performance sake they are best to compete close to their “walking weight.”

      1. Even though that is true. Many highschool wrestlers tend to cut 5-12 pounds. Starting a week or just a few days before competition

    2. Yep, I second the other comment here. HS wrestlers (also, many other grappling sport athletes) aren’t given the full 24 hours to recover from depletion. Some sports have mat-side weigh-ins. Others are just given a few hours after weigh-in to replenish. For these sports, athletes are best served focusing on year-round nutrition strategies, ones that help them stay at a weight very close to the weight they’d like to compete at.

      1. Would you recommend an mma athlete doing any sort of cardio or excersize to help keep your cardio at tip top during this week? Perhaps your last day being Wednesday or something? And also if you would recommend some excersize so you don’t lose ground as far as cardio, would you eat more carbs since you are burning them, or no?

    3. Keep in mind, the strategies outlined here are for adult athletes with years of weight manipulation experience, all monitored by a qualified coach.

      1. Dr. John,

        Wouldn’t adding sodium loading a few days before zero sodium days increase the effect of the water flushing? This is another difference between this protocol vs popular bodybuilding protocols

    4. Great Article Tim. I’m gonna do this diet but I have a quick question. Is it ok to do cardio during the first 3 days? Is walking long distances OK? If not what kind of exercise is ok in the beginning phase?

      The reason I ask is because I lost so much weight by simply walking.

      I put on audiobooks/podcasts and walk for hours. It basically does the same thing as running at a much less intense level. Although you are leisurely walking and enjoying yourself, you’re not wasting your time.

      One mile walked burns the same about of calories as one more jogged. And it’s so much enjoyable.

      Another reason to walk is that is saves money. I live in a big city and cut driving. I no longer have to pay $100/month for gas. $25/month for car insurance (from Insurance Panda). $50 in tolls ($2 each way).

      I live 4 miles from work. I now either walk to the bus stop or (if the weather is nice), I walk to work!

      I’ve lost 20 pounds since I started this journey 6 months ago, and it doesn’t even feel like I’m trying to lose weight. I have 20-30 more pounds to lose before the summer, however, so I really want to try this UFC diet.

      1. This isn’t a diet. I wrestled, this is a way to cut weight before weight ins to fight lighter weight classes.

      2. The point of a diet is to lose fat in order to improve your physique. This isn’t a diet. It’s a trick used by fighters to lose water weight. It’s a *temporary* measure that doesn’t improve your physique and you gain the weight back almost immediately, so it’s utterly pointless for you to do this.

  2. Stunning, I especially love the before/after pics and performance data.

    Is this the same dehydration routine bodybuilders use before a competition?

    1. It’s definitely similar. This protocol is a “baseline” that will often need to be tweaked depending on the athlete and sport. (And, of course, whether or not extreme weight manipulation is even necessary for that sport.)

      1. Thanks for letting us take a look behind the scenes through the eyes of the fighter, the boxer, the mma fighter and other such athletes. It’s interesting to finally understand a fighter who says :” I walk around at 240 but fight at 212″. This always mind boggled me. I just couldn’t grasp why the drastic weight drop. Why not just fight as a heavy weight. So essentially these guys are fighting at their normal weight come fight day. Which at times is significantly heavier than the weight class they are in. That would at least to me seem like cheating. A loop hole of some sort to gain advantage. At any rate weight manipulation is fascinating. My old roommate use to compete in some circuits so he was able to explain the whole behind the scenes cutting but nothing as extensive in comparison to this article. AWESOME,AWESOME,AWESOME. TO EVERYONE READING THIS ARTICLE REMEMBER THESE ARE PROFESSIONALS DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME.

    2. Good question, this depends on the athlete and if they compete 100% natural or not. Most bodybuilders will consume high volumes of water the week before the competition and taper just as was done in this example above while eliminating sodium intake as much as possible. Some bodybuilders will use diuretics at the same time or natural products a few days before to increase water excretion.

      Many natural bodybuilders or fitness models will certain foods containing high volumes of water and also protein shakes (due to excess water) 7-10 days out.

      Every individual is different, bodybuilding still a bit different as its body composition vs fighters who need to strip weight for a weigh in then can put it right back on.

      1. Good feedback…there are some major differences between this protocol and similar bodybuilding protocols.

        Bodybuilders aren’t after a specific weight, they’re after a specific look. Therefore their goal isn’t to deplete and rehydrate to manipulate weight. They deplete glycogen in order to get a “super compensation” effect in which their muscles actually swell with carbohydrates and that makes them look bigger and fuller.

        In addition, they cut water in a specific way, to try to drive the fluid into their muscles and out of the subcutaneous space (between the muscles and the skin). This helps them look leaner. Combine this leaner look with the fuller glycogen saturated muscles and the physique looks markedly different.

        So, again, totally different goals here. With some protocol differences too. Not major ones. But important ones.

  3. I remember reading about Muhammad Ali taking Thyrolar to lose weight quickly but it seems to have weakened him severely. Could it have contributed to his Parkinson?

    Interesting to see how fighters change methods over time and how it affects them in the long run.

    Tim, will there be a colored version of 4-H Body someday like the 4-H Chef with nice photos, graphics and typography?

    1. Getting hit repeatedly, mostly in sparring, is widely what is discussed as contributing to Ali’s pugilistic Parkinson’s, aka Dementia pugilistica (DP). The website that discusses this includes a photo of a young Ali.

      Of the physician who prescribed the thyroid medication, it was said he diagnosed numerous people with thyroid issues. That was apparently his M.O.

      I do not believe he prescribed this medication simply for Ali to lose weight. I believe diuretics were used for that–very silly!

      A. Dundee and others have said that Ali was popping all kinds of pills. Dundee said, “I thought they were vitamins.” Of Ali, it was said he took pills as though they were vitamins. He would never have defeated Holmes at this stage; however, Dundee did comment that Ali got in tremendous shape for this fight.

      I am guessing he got into muscular shape. But I don’t believe he got into 100% wellness shape. I don’t believe he had “wind.” I also don’t believe he did well in sparring. Holmes was at the top of his game. It’s likely Ali could have done his older-age best and not frustrated Holmes at all.

      1968 Ali, vs 1980 Holmes would be an interesting discussion. Ali had speed, footwork, and confidence that I don’t believe any other heavyweight ever had. In “Champions Forever,” Holmes said “I would have beaten them all. The only one I would have had trouble with was Jack Johnson.”

      In my estimation, Ali was as clever at defense as Jack Johnson and had much better body movement, head movement, far quicker hands, and at least as much confidence. I say “1968” because, as A. Dundee said, “Ali was maturing.” 1968 would likely have been his best year of being in the zone.

      It’s not easy to compare people of different ages. One can only make an educated guess. I guess for Ali, even against the larger, very gifted Lennox Lewis. A friend of mine asks “What is strength.”

      He says, “Strength is balance.” I’d argue that Ali had better balance than Lennox but not as much stationary strength or gym strength. With a 1968 Ali moving, Lennox would have had trouble connecting squarely.

      Angelo Dundee says that Ali would have beaten Tyson. He said, “Certain fighters beat certain fighters.”

      Dundee said that he would have created angles and Lennox Lewis wouldn’t have been able to hit him, even with his great jab.

      I believe all of this to be true and accurate. I’m open for your viewpoints.

      In Aloha,

      Sifu [Moderator: business information removed.]

      1. Great link to the interview with Angelo Dundee. The young Ali’s ring craft (and the necessary stamina), his hand speed and reflexes – he could box with his hands down because he could ride the punches – plus immense courage and ability to take a punch make him the Greatest for me. Not to mention his personality.

        Just watch how he not only picks his own punches but, by moving his head and fainting a punch, he chose Liston’s too in their first fight.

        Lsiton was considered unbeatable then and the (then) Cassius Clay made him look pedestrian.

  4. Interesting stuff Tim. Do any MMA fighters actually run on treadmill with a garbage bag on for the “finishing touches” ? Sounds… unpleasant.

    1. Good question…they actually do…and it’s a horrible idea! During the hours leading up to a fight, while an athlete is depleting water and glycogen, exercise should be kept to a minimum. Not only does the athlete need to recover from a hard training camp (thus, taper off exercise) so they can perform during their fight, they need to prevent excess stress. Cutting weight is pretty stressful as it is.

      1. If a fighter has a 8am weigh in and doesn’t fight until 8pm is that sufficient enough time to re hydrate ? Would before bed be the best time to shed the water weight or the morning of ? Would cutting the morning of increase fatigue ? Is it healthy to cut that water weight at night then go to sleep before weighing in at 8am ?

  5. I really appreciate you taking the time to document and this “behind the scenes” look into what takes place with fighters. Awesome results too. Can’t wait for part 2

    Thanks again.

  6. My son was competing nationally and had to cut almost 20 pounds in 2 days… and he had to wrestle 3 hours after weigh in… (he had two classes to wrestle in 175 or 200 – he though he was 185 and just needed 10 pounds but when he stepped on the scale Wednesday night (friday weigh in) he was 192. He spent a lot of time in the hot tub and ate chicken and broccoli and made weight – then he drank too much too fast and ate two peanut butter, honey and banana sandwhiches… but couldn’t really recover in time… he lost his first match, won his next 4, but getting into the losers column means you wrestle almost every 25 minutes and he couldn’t gain back the stamina… suggestions when you don’t have 24 hours? I think he did pretty good on the cutting weight part (he could have drank more water earlier in the week) but gaining it back along with his energy never really happened – he was done within 24 hours of weigh in…

    1. Good question, Craig. As I posted above, HS wrestlers (also, many other grappling sport athletes) aren’t given the full 24 hours to recover from depletion. Some sports have mat-side weigh-ins. Others are just given a few hours after weigh-in to replenish. For these sports, athletes are best served focusing on year-round nutrition strategies, ones that help them stay at a weight very close to the weight they’d like to compete at.

  7. Great post.

    I have a question, Nate. Do you think there’s a possibility that your max efforts (high jump, bench, sprint) on weigh-in day affect your max efforts at ”fight” day? In other words, did you think you recovered 100% from that ‘mini-workout?’

    1. Definitely not 100% recovered, so I’m sure it impacted my performance. Which means I probably could have done a little better if I was completely fresh.

      Granted, no athlete would put himself through a workout while dehydrated the day before the fight. At least I hope they wouldn’t. It sucked. 🙂

  8. Great post! Just like taping your training for competition they approached the same concept with water intake doing the reverse order to rehydrate and draw water back into the muscle (with sodium intake increaseed).

    It doesn’t mention the details of the diet he ate other then protein and fats limited carbs (50 grams per day) I’m wondering what vegetables he consumed (knowing many good leafy greens contain high volumes of water).

    I have worked with similar protocols with wrestlers and bodybuilders.

    1. Hey Trevor –

      I mostly ate lots of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. And some leafy greens like spinach.

      1. Hi Nate, I’m about to start doing the diet to lose weight and I have a question regarding the amount or permitted portions at each meal. How many grams of meat,chiken or fish can I eat in each meal,or during the day?



  9. THANK YOU so much for this post Tim and Nate! I haven’t been able to find many great sources for weight control before a fight, and this is exactly what I was looking for!

    Now I can start another DietBet with full knowledge of how to cut during the final week of crunch time before the final weigh in!

  10. Tim,

    The articles are fantastic and are full delightful information. Do you ever wonder how and if this type of transformation can affect a persons psychological role to be more or less aggressive in the ring? If so, why.?

    Off the subject: I live in Milwaukee where we have the highest African American infant mortality rate in the nation, and 50% obesity rate in the AA communtiy,Is it possible for you apply any study towards this subject.

    In Milwaukee


    1. Hey Maanaan:

      Dr. Gabor Maté comments on drug use as often coinciding with maltreatment or other forms of lacking during youth. He also talks about the high incidence of alcoholism and drug addiction between disenfranchised people, especially First Nations’ people. In part, poor diet and overall lack of wellness practices follow this paradigm.

      AA community seems to suffer the unconscious and conscious mind issue that follows a perceived or real disenfranchisement. Lack of wellness and the lack of wellness practices is circularly related to depression as well as high infant mortality rates.

      The answer for me is simple, “Do the right thing despite any issues and stresses.” Despite anything negative in society and despite any direct impact on any person, one can do one’s best to simply choose to do the right thing. It’s not easy; it’s a bear at first. But wellness practices beget wellness. Most of us are victims of something, including our own brains, personalities, and proclivities. We have to work on awareness every day and do the right thing.

      Wellness has to be one of our three main areas of focus. That’s it.

  11. Good read. I diet and oversee the weight cut for numerous UFC fighters and I agree with 99% of everything written.

    But I don’t decrease water nearly as much as stated and I do some different things with salt.

    All in all, a good read.

    1. Jimmy, when reading this I saw or it seems you have a better and less time consuming and more comfortable weight loss system Ia m wrestling for high school and have about 5 days to make 108 and walk around at 112 and the wiegh-ins are mat side, which is hard for me because I am practically all muscle, It would be helpful if you give me as solution.

  12. crazy stuff, it would be interesting if the weigh in’s we’re done 12 hours prior to the fight. My guess 2 things would happen either someone is gonna get smoked for not putting the weight back on or the match’s would then become more of an even match

      1. As I posted above, HS wrestlers (also, many other grappling sport athletes) aren’t given the full 24 hours to recover from depletion. Some sports have mat-side weigh-ins. Others are just given a few hours after weigh-in to replenish. For these sports, athletes are best served focusing on year-round nutrition strategies, ones that help them stay at a weight very close to the weight they’d like to compete at.

  13. Thanks for the very informative post! I can see using this method (or one very similar to this) for bodybuilders who are preparing for a competition or a show. The good part about it for the bodybuilders is that they are not actually trying to retain their strength, only their size and aesthetic physique. Also, there is no need to rush to gain back the weight the day after the show, that can be a more gradual process (which could be healthier). This would help them look a bit more cut & defined, that is if the 3-5% bodyfat doesn’t already make them look that way…

    1. Good thoughts! As I posted above…there are some important differences between this protocol and similar bodybuilding protocols.

      Bodybuilders aren’t after a specific weight, they’re after a specific look. Therefore their goal isn’t to deplete and rehydrate to manipulate weight. They deplete glycogen in order to then get a “super compensation” effect in which their muscles actually swell with carbohydrate intake and that makes them look bigger and fuller.

      In addition, they cut water in a specific way, to try to drive the fluid into their muscles and out of the subcutaneous space (between the muscles and the skin). This helps them look leaner. Combine this leaner look with the fuller glycogen saturated muscles and the physique looks markedly different.

      So, again, totally different goals here. With some protocol differences too. Not major ones. But important ones.

  14. It’s a shame most of the really insane stuff that happens in UFC training isn’t exactly publishable. Many tip of the spear fitness ideas come out of training fighters, because they have similar demands as body builders, but they’re generally even less risk averse, at least at the lower levels.

    DNP lights your body on fire from the inside? Sure let’s give it a shot!

    Since you JB and Nate are probably the most on top of compliance of anyone, it would be good to hear more about how you get your clients to follow your advice when you’re dialing in a diet to the most finite detail for contest or fight prep.

  15. Great post. Big fan of the Bigger, Smaller, Bigger project. Showcases the resiliency and potential of the body.

  16. So gutsy. I appreciated the honest comments from your journal. The weight cutting felt appropriately unhealthy. Thank you for this post – people will be talking about your experience for a long time.

  17. this is quite extreme. I can appreciate that an athlete would do this for better performance…but yeah… not for me.

  18. Intriguing! I love the way you systematically and scientifically take the weight out of the body and put it back in to gain maximum advantage of the rules.

    I do rock climbing and weight is very important in the reverse way. We want to be as light as we can on competition day yet retain our strength to have the best strength to weight ratio. Especially when we are pulling our body weight with just our finger tips.

    Any advise on how the preparation for a rock climber should be?

    1. Thanks for the comments and questions…for rock climbers the idea would be to stay as close to “competition weight” as possible year-round. This way your “training weight” and “competition weight” are similar, as are your strength and endurance levels.

      1. I’ve done this cut 2 times so far works great I dropped 17 pounds one time gaining 14 back in about 18 hours on my test cut before I dropped the weight class and I dropped from 147-127 the the last time and gained back 18lbs in 18 hours I struggled making weight the last time though spent an entire day at the sauna should I be working out while cutting if so how much trying to get this down to a perfect science cause I will be UFC champion so I would really appreciate the help!! Thx!

  19. I enjoyed this glimpse of the science behind fighting. It should serve to jump start conversation when I watch the next UFC fight with my buddies.

    That some of the concepts revealed here are similar to the Slow-Carb Diet (which I’m also on and one of my buddies is considering trying out) will make the conversation that much more interesting.

    Thanks Nate, Dr. Berardi and Tim.

    1. No problem, thanks for the feedback…and THAT’s the whole point of this article…to open up some interesting conversations. We’re certainly not trying to suggest non elite UFC fighters should attempt to lose weight this way.

  20. I followed a very similar protocol for my jiu jitsu tournament (shedding off between 10-12lbs in the week), made weight and medalled in both Gi and No-Gi (1st and 3rd), as a former wrestler cutting weight is easier when you’ve experienced similar protocols. One thing i did note, i caught a cold within 2 days after the tournament .

    Could this be a coincidence? Or do you think my body’s stress levels compromised my immune system temporarily? I left my window open both nights after to catch the cool breeze (March winter).

    1. Great question, Cain. The cumulative stress of training for a competition and then cutting 10-20 pounds certainly does compromise the immune system. (So does competition itself, for a few hours after the event). Then, when you stuff hundreds of people in an arena or auditorium, all sharing their bacteria and viruses with those compromised immune systems…so getting a cold is the very common. All big athletic events are like this: marathons, tournaments, etc.

    2. Hey cain….im getting ready for my first jiu jitsu tournament next sat October 19th….can u tell me what ur routine was to cut….im currently about 207 from 215 and would like to cutto 194 by weigh in time . Much appreciated!

    1. Hey Ken, we’re just trying to provide options for an international audience :-). Actually, 1 US Gallon is 3.7 Liters if you want to do the conversion.

  21. Do you advise for someone who is 50lbs over weight and is quickly trying to lose weight to put this weight cut into practice? (Person is very active trains 5-6 days a week) The individual has difficult time taking weight down and keeping it off. Only sticks to diets for 3-4 weeks at best. Any suggestions?

    1. Hey Stevo, absolutely not! All the weight loss is water weight and it all comes back pretty quickly. For someone who has 50 pounds to lose, they’d be looking for fat loss. And this certainly isn’t a fat loss plan. If you’re looking for something to help your friend, google “Lean Eating for Men”. It’s a weight loss coaching program that is designed to help people who typically have trouble with “compliance” (sticking to a diet for only 3 weeks). Hope that helps.

      1. While I respect your professional opinion, yes most of the weight lost will be water weight, however if the person undergoing this protocol excerises every day except for the last, and with carb intake minimal, won’t the source of energy for the fuel then come from the fat? I could be wrong, that’s just my thought process.

  22. I’ve been experimenting with cutting off all food and liquids in the afternoon if, after stepping on the scale around 3 p.m., I’m at a weight that would register as a loss the following morning.

    To compensate, I flood my system with water/coffee in the a.m. Any danger in going 15 hours without water 3-4 days a week if you‘re getting a gallon or more within a 24-hour period?

      1. Thanks. Just a short term way of making a weight goal. (And as a former fat person, I like not wondering what the scale will say in the morning. This way I know it will be no higher than x.)

  23. Dr. Berardi (and Mr. Green, if you want to chime in!):

    1) Out of curiosity, do you aim to keep your athletes just out of ketosis range, or is temporary ketosis a state you shoot for in order to expedite weight loss in that five-day period prior to weigh-in? (or do you consider it too lengthy/finicky a transition to even bother?) What are your thoughts on ketosis for a more sustained weight loss effort, say over months and not days?

    2) Just based on the rough dietary guidelines and examples of foods/food types, would it be safe to assume that your recommended diet is Primal/Paleo/slow-carb? If so, do you model food intake for your athletes on a particular approach?

    3) How much of your advice was specifically tailored to Nate based on his body type and body fat percentage? For instance, I’m at 16-17% BF and 175 lb, so would my theoretical five-day dehydration and subsequent rehydration be factored differently, or is the regime pretty well standard? (I am NOT aiming to do this, by the way, but am curious about spreading the five-day concept into a six-week one, with less emphasis on the serious restrictions used for Nate’s Day 4 and 5.)

    Sorry, that was a lot more than I’d intended, but I’m quite curious and, hey… it’s not often one has “access” so two people who are so in the know! Thanks in advance! I’m very much looking forward to Part 2, as intermittent fasting is an amazing thing and I’ve done some Leangains-style IF (and unplanned IF) before.

    1. Thanks for the questions…

      1) Ketosis is irrelevant here.

      The weight cutting period isn’t about fat loss at all. It’s about pure water manipulation. So, no concern for ketosis or fat burning/oxidation. Everything we do is for water manipulation at that point. For sustained fat loss we do things VERY differently.

      2) We’re not “paleo” per se. (Although we have nothing against paleo).

      You’ll learn more about this in part 2, whenever Tim’s able to run it on this site. But, for now, we base our regular fat loss or muscle gain recommendations on the client’s unique individual needs. Some clients eat a more ancestral diet (mostly proteins, fats, and veggies). And others eat more proteins, carbs, and veggies.

      3) Huge mistake!

      My advice is to not using anything from this article for sustained weight loss. Instead, I’d love to see you google “Precision Nutrition Get Shredded Diet”, which provides a rapid fat loss plan that’s based on actual fat (not water) loss. Another approach would be to google “Precision Nutrition Intermittent Fasting”, which provides another alternative.

      Hope that helps.

  24. Hey guys,

    I love the bigger-smaller-bigger experiment.

    For the bulk up phase..would you agree lactic acid style training like Tim used to gain 34 pounds in 28 days with a 5 second up 5 second down rep cadence or as John Romaniello recommends in his book Man 2.0 (a 4 second up, 1 second 1 down rep cadence) is the fastest way to gain mass? Or would you recommend lower rep power style lifting as well?

    1. Truthfully, as Nate says in the Bigger Smaller Bigger book, training style is less important than nutrition for gaining muscle mass. There are dozens of ways to train to stimulate muscle mass, all of them effective. As long as you activate as many motor units as possible, use a proper progression (doing more/doing better each time), and recove adequately, the rest is just personal preference. Once that’s all taken care of, it’s about food amounts and types. All of which we detail in BSB, if you want to revisit it.

  25. I’m not a fighter but if I was I’d be a light heavyweight in the UFC. It always confused me how they look so much bigger than me, even though their weight is listed as being lower than mine. Now I know why!

  26. How does this differ to what Mike Dolce does with his fighters? His fighters always claim they have the easiest weight cuts and I’ve seen instances where they still weigh ~20 lbs two days before the fight (specifically Chael Sonnen & Vitor Belfort).

    1. His approach is likely similar (although I don’t know exactly what he does and he could have his own special tricks). In the end, though, physiology is physiology. There are only so many ways to manipulate body water and weight.

      1. Dr. Berardi have you reviewed Mike Dolce’s two books on the market? Nutrition related – The Dolce Diet – Living Lean – this highlights some of his weight cutting experiments. The other book is a cookbook.

    1. Good question, Matt. Quite frankly, for the athletes I work with it’s not an issue. Because they’re able to regain almost 100% of their strength, power, and endurance come fight night. So they have two advantages: 1) they’re at 100% in terms of performance capacity while their opponents, who probably cut weight in a less effective way, are likely only at 80%, 2) they’re also heavier (which grants strength leverage advantages). You can see there are a lot of variables here, though. And that’s why a scientific approach is warranted.

    1. As I posted above, HS wrestlers (also, many other grappling sport athletes) aren’t given the full 24 hours to recover from depletion. Some sports have mat-side weigh-ins. Others are just given a few hours after weigh-in to replenish. For these sports, athletes are best served focusing on year-round nutrition strategies, ones that help them stay at a weight very close to the weight they’d like to compete at. This way you don’t need to cut weight at all with such a quick turnaround.

  27. The before, during, and after regaining weight performance is what I find real interesting.

    How long back at normal weight before you were back to previous performance level?


    1. For most athletes, all it takes is 24 hours. But since Nate hadn’t done this before (and practice certainly helps), it probably took him 2-3 days to feel normal again.

  28. >24 hours in which to do it. 8 of which he’ll be sleeping and 3 of which will be leading up to Saturday weigh-in.

    I think you meant “Saturday fight”

    1. Yep, for Nate it was a saturday weigh-in. But for a fighter it would be a saturday fight. Good catch.

  29. Very eye-opening article. I knew almost most athletes in weight-class based sports cut, but not to this extent.

    I don’t follow UFC much (ie, at all), so bear with me. While I consider “pain tolerance” a trainable skill (which this process obviously requires), is there any concern that this method may take something away from a true combat skill competition? A fighter who has a more effective big-small-big protocol but an inferior skill set could definitely gain a huge advantage as mentioned. Dr. Berardi and multiple posters have mentioned ringside weigh-ins for other similar sports to discourage cuts like this (I’m assuming), does UFC have any issue with the practice? They’ve obviously been in place for years and years without any tragedies (I think?), so is it an “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” sort of deal?

    These may not be questions you (Mr. Green and Dr. Berardi) can answer, but may spark some interesting discussion. Thanks for your time (and suffering, Mr. Green)!

    1. Good questions…it certainly does add an additional variable aside from skill. Although there are many others that factor into a fight situation anyway; it’s not just fighting technique.

      There’s obviously strength and conditioning (which can be a game changer), how injured the athlete is at any moment (no MMA fighter enters a fight completely injury-free, training is brutal), in which time zone the fight is being held (if one athlete lives in that time zone it’s an advantage), whether the fight is at altitude or not (if one athlete lives/trains at altitude, that’s an advantage), and so on.

      So there’s never a level playing field anyway. That’s why weight cutting is just another technique athletes will use in an activity that’s influenced by many variables, some controllable, others not. And why the UFC isn’t necessarily concerned with it.

    2. Also, it’s helpful to understand how the MMA classes work. Basically, there’s pressure from the top down to fight in lower weight classes.

      You have these guys in Heavyweight weighing in at 270lbs, so the 230lbs heavyweights will drop down to 205 so they don’t have a huge disadvantage. But now the natural 205 pounders will be at a disadvantage, so they’ll cut to 185 and so on.

      I think a weight class or two above 205 might help eliminate some of the need to cut in every other weight class.

  30. Interesting. I wondered how you could drop a large amount of weight in such a small time frame, now I know.

  31. Wow! What a strategy!

    You hit the weight during weighing in.

    Then you gain as much weight in preparation for the fight.

  32. Question regarding weight cutting. Assume you’re losing 10-15 lbs vs 20-30. Are you better off dieting and cutting a little day by day, as the model above suggested (lose about 25-30% of weight on the last day), or are you better off attempting to dump 8-10 on weigh in day (50-60% of weight on the last day) leaving the water in for longer ?

    I’m curious because I know the above is the norm, however, I feel as though I’ve seen articles that talk about the shorter amount of time your body is dehydrated, the less ultimate effects you’d feel.

    Just curious as to the science / difference behind the two methods when the weight gain / loss is less extreme, since you obviously can’t safely cut 20 lbs in a day.

    1. Technically you’re only really “dehydrated” in a major way during the last 2-3 days of the cut. Remember, the first few days you’re loading up on water and setting up the body for a big water loss later in the week.

  33. The Scrawny to Brawny landing page is one of the best I’ve ever seen.

    Great design. Great layout. Great copy writing. Great credibility indicators.

    I’m very impressed.

    I’ll be definitely be revisiting when I want to add weight in 2014 (working on increasing strength relative to body weight right now).

    1. Thanks for the feedback on the website, Ryan. We’re proud of the S2B project as we’re helping a lot of guys build muscle, strength, and a bigger life.

  34. How would you manage this weight cutting process in a safe manner minimising performance decreases if you were to weigh in 2-3 hours before your fight. Which is what they do in amateur boxing

    I’d be interested in your perspective thanks

    1. As you mention, HS wrestlers (also, many other grappling sport athletes), boxers, etc. aren’t given the full 24 hours to recover from depletion. Many of these sports have mat-side weigh-ins. Others are just given a few hours after weigh-in to replenish. For these sports, athletes are best served focusing on year-round nutrition strategies, ones that help them stay at a weight very close to the weight they’d like to compete at.

    1. This basically screws up your health and immune system in the long run to be sure. Hope the UFC organizers change the rules so that they have a weigh in just prior to the fight. This will stop all this weight loss manipulations mania and will ensure fairness in the system, so that desperate fighters willing to risk their long term health don’t get an edge over the normal guys who want to have a longer healthier life after all these fights are done.

  35. My comment is about the 4HWW and videos you’ve done for you 2 next books. My question is: why don’t you make a video trailer for that 1rst book? 1- That would be amazing, 2- it’s still, and maybe more than ever a popular topic and 3- it could be very popular and end up like a book re-launch?

    Food for though… and I’d love to see what you’d come out for that book, and let’s face it, book videos are an absolutely great way to build interest (visual representation, action and music/beat) in something that can otherwise be boring (reading), I just love it!

  36. ‘literally slams a liter of water’ doesn’t make sense. GSP would literally drink it. Not slam it. Just saying.

    1. Thanks for the question. While caffeine is a mild diuretic, the effects of water and sodium manipulation are much more powerful. So, throwing high dose caffeine into the mix wouldn’t really help. And it’d probably only hurt, making the athlete feel much, much worse.

  37. Nice Article. I do however have a couple questions. 1. You say each gram of carbs pulls in 2.7 grams of water, I was always taught that protein takes the most water to digest. 2. Do have the figure for how much water each gram of water ulls into the body or is needed for digestion? 3. And iif you can give those numbers for consumption, it would be great!

    1. Thanks for the question here…when we say each gram of carbs holds on to 2.7g of water, that’s a little different than your protein question. Essentially what we’re saying is that for every gram of carbohydrate stored in the muscle, for example, 2.7 grams of water are literally bound up in that carbohydrate molecule. Likewise, when each gram of carb is depleted from the body, 2.7 grams of water are lost. So it’s simply a body weight issue. Lose 200 grams of carbohydrate from the body through exercise and a low carb diet, and close to 600 grams of water disappear too. Combined, that’s almost 2 pounds of weight lost. Cool, huh?

  38. I wrestled in high school in Canada and we had the weigh ins the day before and would wrestle the next morning so we’d all do the same thing.

    I’d been to some US tournaments where there are other styles before the freestyle so you can weigh in even earlier if you compete in them. One time a team we were friendly with signed up for sambo having no idea what it was and literally ever member of the team got injured and couldn’t wrestle!

    I used to get a 3 pack of Boost in tetra pack form and just drink all 3 with the same straw without unwrapping the block of 3 immediately after getting off the scale.

    The funny thing to me is that what was described in the article was not at all foreign to me and I was thinking “what’s new” when I was reading it, but if you’ve never done it before, it’s really really unpleasant. We’d always fly in the night before the weigh ins and the day of, I’d often wake up at 5am and cut for 12 hours straight. The hardest part is to have the discipline to not check your weight too frequently because it gets extremely hard to get your sweat going when you’re dehydrated, especially in the absence of a sauna. My mom also noticed that I’d go running in a foot of fresh snow at 3am when I’d have an early flight and at that point she decided she didn’t have to worry about my determination.

  39. I have a couple of questions on the “water”.

    1. Any difference between tap/bottled or distilled water? Since you are manipulating sodium levels, I thought there might be a difference. Distilled water has always seemed to have had a stronger flushing effect.

    2. Also could green tea or coffee be substituted for a portion of the water so long as the same totals are reached? Or is the fluid to be completely limited to water?

    1. Great questions.

      1) Some people swear by distilled water (because it is mostly electrolyte free) but with this protocol, I don’t think it makes a difference at all (and we’ve tried both).

      2) Same, you could use some of a caffeinated beverage. But I don’t prefer it as larger amounts of caffeine cause a physiological stress. And cutting is stressful enough.

  40. Hi,

    I enjoyed and learned a lot reading this article!

    I’m a full contact kickbokser and participate in big tournaments with 3-4 fights during a championship. If you win a fight, you have to fight the next day. So the tournament are often from wednesday to sunday and there is weight in every day!

    I cut weight from 73 kg to 67 kg its app 13 pounds. But i start 3 weeks before and loose the last 1 kg in sauna.

    The problem is that i can’t eat and drink too much because the weight in is 3-6 hours before the fight and if i win i have to go to weight in again next morning.

    Do you have any ideas. How to cut and what to eat during the tournament?

    1. Thanks for the question…for competitions like this, athletes are best served focusing on year-round nutrition strategies, ones that help them stay at a weight very close to the weight they’d like to compete at.

  41. Outstanding article.

    I’m a huge UFC fan, and it’s crazy to see how sickly the fighters look at the weigh-ins, only to see them look full and muscular come fight time. I’ve heard Joe Rogan tell stories about how he’s seen some fighters shuffle up to the scale because they didn’t have enough energy to walk normally.

    It’s insane what some will do to have a slight edge in a fight. The biggest example that comes to mind is Anthony Johnson. The dude would walk around at like ~230 lbs and fight in the 170 lb weight class. He would rag-doll guys because of the huge size advantage. Of course, he always had trouble making weight, but it’s still a huge advantage if you can do it properly.

    Thanks for going through the grueling experiment for us, Nate!

    Jake Johnson

  42. Very interesting article. How does this apply to smaller fighters, like flyweights? Is the amount of water they are drinking less than a 170 pound fighter? I always thought it would be a lot harder for a person weighing 130 to lose 5 lbs than someone weighing 170 since it’s a greater percentage of their body weight.

      1. Hello! I’m very curious as to how the amounts would differ or where I can find this information. I am 130 and needing to cut 6 pounds in five days. Also, where can I find more specifics on recommended exercise intensity/durations and the diet plan? Any help is greatly appreciated!

  43. I used a similar strategy for a photo shoot a couple of years back, interesting to hear of the use of this strategy in a different context.

    One question:

    Have you done any tests to compare your strength after rehydration, with your strength at a natural weight of 170lbs? I.e. reduce weight naturally till you are 170lbs while fully hydrated. Test strength at this weight, compare it to your strength after your above rehydration?

    Of course, we’d expect your ‘natural 170lbs’ strength to be less than your ‘post rehydration’ strength. But, would be interesting to test that assumption don’t you think?

    1. We tested this exact thing, Daryl. To get the full context of our experiments, check out our free online book “Bigger Smaller Bigger” ( You can see all the comparisons you’re looking for, possibly more, since this article is just a small part of what we did.

  44. This was such an interesting article especially to note the strength levels not lost during this process. Do you have a similar article with respect to bodybuilding as I did read that the process is similar but with important differences so as to not have water sit under skin but be ushered into the muscle bellies. Thank you so much for all of your responses.

  45. Hello, I am a teenager who competitively fights, and I was wondering if it would be the same procedure for someone around my age. And if it is safe to cut weight for someone around the age of 16 – 18?


    1. Cutting weight under the watchful eye of an experienced coach is pretty normal for teenage grapplers/fighters. But take heed: trying to do this on your own without a coach can be extremely dangerous. Also, here’s something important to note: cutting weight gets easier each time you do it. So your first few cuts, you’re lucky to get 8-12 pounds. After years of cutting, that number goes way up. What we’ve posted here is a modest cut. I know some athletes who can do 35 pounds in a week!

  46. Hi,

    Firstly great article very interesting. Can I ask what you’d think of cutting weight for things like Bjj? Where you literally get weighed and the step on the mat…


    1. I wouldn’t do it, Dan. The performance loss — and potential for heat exhaustion — is just too high.



    2. For BJJ and other sports with mat-side weigh ins, athletes are best served focusing on year-round nutrition strategies, ones that help them stay at a weight very close to the weight they’d like to compete at.

  47. Hi

    Just looking at the last weeks diet, its says no starches, what are good carbs

    to be taken that are non starchy ?



  48. Hey i was just wondering what the physical activity level was like during that five days? I ask because most guys doing this process would be in preparation for competition. Thank you!

    1. Wade, the activity was very low. Most guys getting ready for a UFC fight would (should) be in the same situation. They’re tapering off training, traveling, and cutting weight. So, aside from some light drilling and mental prep, they shouldn’t be doing much else. All the “training” should be done at that point.

  49. Pro weightlifters take diuretics, often Lasix. Lasix is probably the most-dangerous of all the drugs athletes use, and has killed numerous bodybuilders. I expect pro fighters do the same; they just don’t tell you.

    (The main potentially-lethal drugs used by pro athletes are: Diuretics, insulin, mitochondrial OXPHOS uncouplers like DNP, EPO, amphetamines, painkillers such as vicodin, & growth hormone. Natural testosterone and, worse, DHT or over-the-counter testosterone precursors, can have unpleasant side-effects. Oral anabolic steroids stress the liver. Injectable anabolic steroids, by contrast, have never been demonstrated to be dangerous to healthy ADULT men in any study, never been implicated in a death, and may have health benefits because they are less toxic than the natural testosterone they displace. They ARE dangerous to high-school athletes as they disrupt normal growth. Simply having more muscle, however acquired, is life-shortening due to increased metabolic demands, mitochondrial oxidation, cardiovascular stress, and the down-regulation of FOXO-dependent repair pathways caused by muscle growth.)

      1. Thanks for great contribution to a great article! When i read about this article i got very enthusiastic and impressed and found out i got to try it. So this is my 3 day. Day 1 i weighed in at 79.5 kg. Today (day 3, morning) am weighing 78.3 kg. My diet consist of chicken fillets 3 times a day with chilli and pepper and a bit of lemon juice. I have obviously followed the instructions down to a tee, and not sheeted along the way. My question is:why do i only marginally loose weight? By this point the guy in the article had lost quite a bit. What am i doing wrong?

        NB. This is my first time trying to weight cut, but does that mean that my body still is able to to counter force “the trick”?

      2. I’m trying to lose weight. I’m a college student at KU. I’m athletic, however I’m not an athlete. I weigh 180lbs but I would like to cut up in the gym and get down to about 165lbs. Is this a good method for me to use to lose weight? even if I “tweaked” the plan a little to make it more healthy & convenient for my situation(not being a wrestler)?

  50. Interesting stuff Tim! I really appreciate you are taking the time to organise and document a “behind the scenes” facts that look into what takes place with fighters. I especially love the before/after pics and performance data. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful tips and facts to us.

  51. Hey – this is an eye opener – I do need to throw this out there to get the Tim’s/The Good Doctor’s/anyone’s advise…

    I am having reconstructive surgery on my ankle in two days (5/16/13) and since I will be on my posterior for the few weeks after – at least no exercising – I’m looking for advise on dropping 20-30 lbs over the never 40 days so rehab will go better…stats – 5’9 204 – formerly athletic build now couch build – 47 yrs old – I have been a “Ferrisee” (better than Ferrasite) since listening to 4HWW and then 4HB – but need refocused guidance – from one and all – If this is the wrong string please let me know that as well.

    Thanks in advance,


  52. Hey super article, really good stuff, its mad what the body can do and recover from

    Question having the sweat baths the day before and then if necessary day of weight inns

    I taught it would of been better been dehydrated for the least amount of time

    thus having the sweet baths only before weigh ins but on this article and lot of what i read suggest the day before

    Just wondering why this is ?

  53. Great post. It reminds me a bit of CCD. I am just curious, do you think that body composition was altered at all?

  54. This is a very detailed and very interesting post. Now I’m starting to understand more how athletes, boxers, MMC fighters could lose weight that fast. Most often than not they end up losing the fight. Anyone being deprived with water is surely going to get cranky and weak.

  55. Hi Tim,

    I am not one to do this normally and I also do not know exactly where I should post this question but I need some suggestions or help for this stupid condition – I sweat too much. I guess some people call it hyperhydrosis?

    Problem for me is I sweat in my face and chest so much that it is embarassing during social situations. People think I am nervous or something. Weather true or not I don’t like revealing or looking that uncomfortable.

    Considering that you have so many body hacks and have studies the human body, can you or anyone recommend any foods or ways in which I can stop sweating?

    Of course I would like at this point to do things natural and avoid any surgeries or “drugs”

    Any help would be appreciated. Again, apologies if this is out of place, I don’t really know how or where to post these type of weird random questions.

    Many thanks.


  56. Had always heard of cutting weight but never realized it was so drastic. Loved the notes from the diary and the nose dive, especially the last day. Very cool look at how they do it.

  57. Wow, I knew that cutting weight was drastic, but it’s definitely interesting to see the nitty gritty of it, not only in the details but the pics. He was noticeably smaller in those after photos. The cutting definitely seems like hell. On the other hand, the recovery period sounds like fun.

  58. I have a fair amount of experience cutting weight, and I just completed this cut for competition, and it worked well for me. 190 to 170 back up to 187. Great article

  59. How can this weight loss method be tweaked to provide rapid weight breduction without actually dehydrating? Afetr reaching your goal weight, what would then be the secret when adding back carbs to avoid bouncing back?

  60. wow! 20-30 pounds weight loss in just 5 days?? just as I saw the title I was a bit curios about it as to how can you do that for just 5 days. It is really hard work for the boys who really wanted to be fit like that in those pictures posted. i believe if you are really into something like doing these why not? If you are just determined and persistent in everything I am sure that you can really loss weight for 20-30 pounds or even more. i believe you just have to believe in yourself. GO FOR GOLD

  61. Stunning, I especially love this article.

    For all body builders they do the same dehydration routine bodybuilders use before a competition.

    1. Definitely not recommended. Please read The 4-Hour Body or search “Slow-Carb Diet” on this blog.

  62. Hey I am actually doing this right now and I’m on the tuesday and noticed I’m not peeing anywhere near as much as I was on the monday. Everything I’m eating is just spinach, brocolli, chicken, eggs and a protein shake.I looked at the protein shake contents and that attributes to eating 687mg sodium 19.3g sugar with all the other food. The protein shake ends up having like 15g of sugar. This is way too much isnt it, is this absorbing alot of water therefore not making me expel said water.

  63. For a UFC fan, it’s interesting to know that my idols does all this in preparation for the fight. Diet as i may say as a nurse, is rather uncomplicated yet very dangerous to once health when done wrong. Dehydration can jeopardize your health specially if you did this without any supervision with a specialized doctor. It can bring your heart to stop, a possibility of long term effects of illness, hypertension can be triggered and comatose in some instances. Though this is interesting for those who wants to lose weight fast, this stuff or diet is not suited for normal people who have normal office jobs or people who isn’t fighting. Overall I would say its dangerous yet very intriguing.

  64. What is the weight loss on a daily basis, meaning it would be interesting to see how the weight loss/gain line looked like. I would assume that day 1 that there would be somewhat of a gain considering the initial amount of water being consumed, then loss as the fluids are flushed during the week.

    Also, was any exercise done during this process?

  65. What effect does this rapid weight cutting have on your blood pressure, and other health indicators, such things as blood work, liver function, etc? What effect would it have on a cholesterol test?

  66. Hi guys, great case study, thanks for sharing. I’ve got a question about the influence of water loading on dehydration.

    I gather that by consuming copious amounts of water, you decrease the concentration of sodium in the cells and plasma, which decreases anti-dieuretic hormone activity, which enhances pissing (correct me if I’m wrong). Is osmolality the regulated variable here??? If so, would it not fall to within normal ranges after the excess water is pissed out, thereby reducing diuresis? If there is further pissing, there must be some residual effect of ADH, or perhaps some other explanation? Any idea of how much water is actually lost through this residual process?

    I was also wondering about the risk of hyponatremia early in the protocol – any thoughts?

    Great article guys, keep up the good work!

  67. I have a fight next Saturday June 15th. Im currently 178 this morning, I need to weigh 170 Saturday at 5pm and expect to fight around 8pm. I know I shouldnt cut a lot of water but dont want to train extremely hard this week as im trying to recover as it is. I plan to do my regular training Monday and Tuesday and take off the rest of the week to rest. I started at 192 pounds and have lost them in the last few weeks naturally but have seemed to hit a plateau. What protocol would you suggest I use doc.

  68. Not sure if it was asked, too many comment to read them all, but is the intervals for the sauna and hot baths.? How many times do you go in and out and how long do you stay in and how long are the breaks in between.?

  69. Hey, thank you so much for the post!

    Im weighing in at 178-180lbs in the morning..

    Im weighing in at 155 in only 10 days..

    Im having trouble keeping my energy high and

    Feel like ive lost a lot of strength already.

    im going to start this cut on Sunday June 23rd

    And was wondering if you had any tips for keeping

    My strength and energy levels up during the cut ?

    Thank you !!

  70. Hey guys does anyone knows if fighters outside of mma like in K1 organisations or others MT,kick boxing organizations do the same thing?I very curious if Buakaw,Masato or Souwer do the same thing

  71. I was just wondering if an IV would be a good idea after weighing in to help replenish the water lost in the cut. I am an amateur mixed martial artist and am cutting down to 170 lbs for the first time (I usually fight at 185). I walk around at about 195-200 lbs but hold a lot of water weight so I believe the cut is very possible. Thank you for your post!!!!!!!

  72. yes your idea of loosing the weight and the gaining the weight is terriffic. i agree with your experimental ideas.

  73. Will this work for Boxers as well? I’ve just found out that boxers have to maintain a 5 lb weight limit on fight day Ex If I fought 154, on fight day my weight should not exeed 159.

  74. Nate,

    For re-hydration, pedialite, salt etc…Any way to use your biggest oragan aka your skin, help you rehydrate?

  75. I walk around 130lbs at 5’2” and have to make 117lbs.

    couple of questions

    – how much should I increase my protein intake?

    – eating egg yolks fine?

    – drinking black coffee ok to supress hunger?

    – how long to stay in the sauna on day 4?

    1. I tried this protocol last week and dropped 19 lbs Sunday – Friday 9 am weigh in. Pretty remarkable, I was surprised as I drink at least a gallon of water a day normally (s)low carbing it so wasn’t sure if I had that much to lose. Ironically for me I was more thirsty on the Tuesday/Wednesday than the final two, the lack of salt wasn’t fun.

  76. Amazing article. My question is how can you or more importantly, is it possible to train while cutting weight like this? Or does this only work when not training. Does gsp do any training during this time or for five days is he just cutting while sedentary .

  77. Nate – I’d be interested to know what your mood was like towards the end of the cut? I’m two days away from weigh-in (Muay Thai) and feel like I’m walking around in a constant bad mood.

    It’s definitely working though, I’ve cut 5KG so far this week and looking good for making weight!

  78. Hello,

    According to this process….is it ok to drink skim milk with black coffee during the 1st couple days of the 5 day process? Also, just after weigh ins, you suggest 1 big meal, etc. ….can/should one eat more than that after weigh ins?

  79. Hey thanks for putting this up im 13 years old and want to lose weight in a week can i do this dehydration thing and not put my weight on in the 24 hours after the week ?

  80. Hello Dr. I was just curious as to why or if it is more efficient to do it this way and slowly decrease your water intake or if on the 4th day, rather than drinking .5gallons water, you instead; seized your water intake all together? wouldnt that make your body go into flushing mode sooner and harder and get water out for even longer? or is that more dangerous?

  81. I dont mean any disrespect and this article is tremendous, but, I dont understand why you suggest that you will do your best to answer questions, etc. but no one does? I do realize it would be a lot of work to do so but isnt that the whole point here? I could really use a response and I imagine most other questions here are of time sensitivity. Either way, thank you for the great info!

    1. Bruce – You expect someone to answer your question (for free) in 10 minutes? That does not seem reasonable. If you read through the comments you will see where they have answered many questions. If you have read some of Tim’s work, you’ll also know that you cannot even predict what time zone they are in.