How to Lose 20-30 Pounds in 5 Days: The Extreme Weight Loss and Rehydration Secrets of UFC Fighters - Author Tim Ferriss' Blog (2023)

How to Lose 20-30 Pounds in 5 Days: The Extreme Weight Loss and Rehydration Secrets of UFC Fighters - Author Tim Ferriss' Blog (1)

The following is a guest post byNate Green, who with Dr. John Berardi, nutritionist to athletes like UFC champion Georges St. Pierre (APS).

This is the first of two blog posts dedicated to extreme physics experiments. Absolutely no performance-enhancing drugs of any kind were used.

Part 1 - this post - details how top fighters like Georges St. Pierre quickly lose 20-30 pounds for "weigh-in".To refine the method, Nate did this on himself and lost 20 pounds in 5 days. The special: Dr. Berardi and his team measured key variables throughout the process, including the final "rehydration" stage. In Berardi's words:

“We used the exact GSP protocol with him [Nate]. The idea was that by doing this with a guy who didn't have to compete the next day, we could measure all kinds of performance variables that you would never get in an athlete who is 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, mimicking a fighter who wants (or needs) to gain weight in competition.

Warning in Part 1

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters unveil all for the world to see: they kick, punch, laugh, cry and bleed in front of thousands of arena fans and millions of viewers 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 handling

Done correctly, it can greatly increase a fighter's chances of winning. An athlete artificially reduces his weight for the prefight weigh-in and then shows 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 their edge... and probably the fight. There is a serious risk of organ failure if done haphazardly.

Although boxers and wrestlers have been manipulating weight in this way for decades, it has the appearance of an illegal activity.And while it's legal in competitive MMA, you have to do itNevertry this at home or without medical supervision. Excessive dehydration can kill you. "Losing weight" has no place in real-world diet or behavior.

This is NOT an article about sustainable weight loss or healthy living. Instead, it's a fascinating look at the efforts that athletes and scientists go to to manipulate the human body for a competitive advantage.

See how it works...

guess night

Picture 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:What's your weight?

The answer might seem obvious: 170 pounds, right? But if you've followed the extreme weight manipulation steps, the real answer is that you weigh somewhere between 185 and 190 pounds. That's 15-20 poundsmostthan the cutoff weight of 170.

24 hoursbeforeYou entered the cage, but he actually weighed 170 pounds. You had to. Friday night was the official weigh-in, where you and your opponent stripped naked, stepped on the scale in front of the judges and prayed that the number on the scale would reach 170 or less.

But once you got off the scale, it was a race to gain weight.

I find this kind of physiological puppet very interesting. Most of us average men have a hard time gaining or losing just 10 pounds at a time.

But the best martial artists can lose as little as 30 pounds5 diago into battle. So you can win almost anything in the 24 hours between weigh-in and head-to-head.

They do this to give themselves a huge competitive advantage. In other words, the bigger guy who retains more strength, agility, and endurance will likely win. The guy who weighs 170 - and thenfightsat 170 - often has a world of pain ahead of her.

That's why Anderson Silva - arguably the best MMA fighter in the world - usually fights in the 185lb class, even though he actually weighs 215lbs. A few days before a fight, Anderson "cuts off" 30 pounds to gain weight ... and then regains most of his weight within 24 hours in time for his fight.

Georges St. Pierre - arguably the second best fighter in the world - typically weighs 195 pounds. He ends up losing 25 pounds to reach his 170-pound weight class and then gaining 20 pounds back before his fight.

Sneaky, right?

How do these guys do it? And how does this rapid weight loss and gain affect your performance?

My experiment in handling extreme weights

I'm lucky enough to be friends withDR. Joao BerardieMartin Rooney, two guys who regularly work with UFC athletes.

I recently told them I want to see how the weight loss is. Is it really possible for a regular guy like me to lose 20 pounds in a few days and then gain it back in 24 hours?

And if it were possible, what would it be?feelAs? I've heard that losing weight is one of the hardest things fighters do in their entire career. Was I man enough to handle this? Or would you give up when push came to shove?

They agreed to help me lose 40 pounds in a week and then put it all back on in 24 hours.

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

The smart way to lose weight fast

How to Lose 20-30 Pounds in 5 Days: The Extreme Weight Loss and Rehydration Secrets of UFC Fighters - Author Tim Ferriss' Blog (2)

Before the photos. Full of water and happy.

Well, extreme weight manipulation can go horribly, horribly wrong. Even a lot of UFC people don't know how to do it the smart way. Instead, they put their bodies in real danger by doing stupid things like taking too many diuretics, not drinking water, skipping meals, using garbage bags when exercising (sometimes in the sauna), and just generally being jerks.

Of course you lose weight. But they also lose energy and strength and develop a bad mood. None of this helps during fight time.

With the help of dr. Berardi and Rooney, I've decided to take a smarter path rather than seriously jeopardize my health.

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

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

STRATEGICALLY REDUCE WATER CONSUMPTION

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

For a fighter looking to lose weight quickly and safely, here's how much water he would be consuming in the 5 days leading up to the weigh-in:

Sunday – 2 gallons

Monday - 1 gallon

Tuesday - 1 gallon

Wednesday - 0.5 gallons

Thursday – 0.25 gallons

Friday – No water until after the 5pm weigh-in.

As you can see, the amount of water starts out at two gallons high and decreases every day until he's drinking almost no water on Thursday and Friday.

This is to ensure your body goes into "flush mode".

Drinking too much water early on downregulates the fighter's bodyAldosterone, a hormone that conserves sodium and secretes potassium.

And if he suddenly drinks less water in the middle of the week and towards the end of the week, his body is still in flush mode, which means he goes to the bathroom a lot to pee a lot, even though he hardly drinks any water.

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

DO NOT EAT MORE THAN 50 GRAM CARBS PER DAY

Because 1 gram of carbs draws 2.7 grams of water into the body, it is important for fighters to keep their carb intake low.

In the process, they also break down muscle glycogen (an energy source) and keep the body in "dump mode".

DO NOT EAT FRUIT, SUGAR OR STARCH

These are carbohydrates that should be avoided entirely when cutting.

EAT MEALS HIGH IN PROTEIN AND FAT

Fighters must eatsome🇧🇷 Since they avoid carbohydrates, says Dr. Berardi advises them to consume high-quality proteins such as meat, eggs or vegetarian protein sources. It's also the perfect opportunity to eat lots of leafy greens (like spinach) and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower).

Georges St. Pierre usually has his meals prepared by a private chef, so he doesn't even have to think about those things or make any decisions. Recommended reading: Here it isan entire article describing the APS training diet.

DO NOT EAT SALT

Since the body likes to retain sodium (which retains water), the dripping of the salt helps the fighter's body release water.

NOTE NATURALDIURÉTICO

This step isn't always necessary, but it can be helpful if you're reaching your limit and still need to lose water. Opt for a natural diuretic like dandelion root, but wait until the last 2 days to use it.

TAKING BATHS

We sweat a lot in hot environments. However, we sweat more in hot and humid environments. Since hot water provides warmth and 100% humidity, fighters lose water quickly by taking hot showers and completely submerging everything but their nose for 10 minutes at a time.

SITINTHESAUNA

This is the "finishing touch" to shed the last few pounds of water and is only used in the last few days before weighing.

The weight loss plan

So if we break it all down into a weekly schedule, it looks like this:

DOMINGO

Carbohydrates: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starch or sugar.

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

Water: 2 gallons

Salt: None

MONTAG

Carbohydrates: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starch or sugar.

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

Water: 1 gallon

Salt: None

THIRD

Carbohydrates: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starch or sugar.

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

Water: 1 gallon

Salt: None

WEDNESDAY

Carbohydrates: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starch or sugar.

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

Water: 0.5 gallons

Salt: None

Spatsauna

THURSDAY

Carbohydrates: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starch or sugar.

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

Water: 0.25 gallons

Salt: None

30 minutes sauna in the afternoon, warm water bath in the evening

FRIDAY (PICK-UP AT 6 PM)

Carbohydrates: Less than 50 grams per day. No fruit, starch or sugar.

Protein and Fat: Eat 2 very small meals until you weigh yourself

Water: None until weigh-in

Salt: None

Sauna until you reach the weight

(Tim's note:You can download the entire weight manipulation plan that Nate used here:Weight loss and rehydration protocol.)

How does it feel to lose weight

How to Lose 20-30 Pounds in 5 Days: The Extreme Weight Loss and Rehydration Secrets of UFC Fighters - Author Tim Ferriss' Blog (3)

Bone dry and not happy about it.

So everything looks good on paper. But what is it really like to get through this?

One word: hell.

I started my cut on Sunday at 190 pounds. Here's a quick recap of how it went.

SUNDAY - 190 POUNDS

I carry a gallon of water with me wherever I go, which makes me look ridiculous. But I have to make sure I put in my two gallons of water. But overall I feel good. It actually doesn't seem that difficult. Not sure what the big deal is.

MONDAY - 187 LBS

I'm starting to miss the taste of salt. All my food is bland. Now I drink a gallon of water instead of two. It's not that bad yet.

TUESDAY - 182 LBS

I go to the toilet 13 times in one day. A new record I think. And I still drink a gallon of water.

WEDNESDAY - 179 LBS

Now I have half a gallon of water a day, which means I have to ration it, which is weird. I eat a little for breakfast, a little for lunch and a little for dinner. Definitely not enough water.

my mouth is dry i feel dehydrated I drink straight espresso instead of brewed coffee because it contains a lot of water.

In the evening I try my first hot water bath. I usually like baths, but this one is different. The water in my apartment doesn't get as hot as Dr. Berardi wants it — "hot enough to cause moderate pain but not burn your hand" — so I fill two saucepans and a kettle with water, put it on the stovetop until it boils, and dump it in the tub.

I get in the shower 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 rolled back in my head. My whole body feels like a giant heartbeat. I want to drink some water but I can't.

It's getting less and less fun.

THURSDAY - 175 LBS

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

In the sauna, I watch beads of sweat collect on my skin. I watch my precious water run down my arms, chest, and legs, and I know that when I go, I can't replace anything.

I only have 0.25 liters of water for the whole day. I'm ready for this to be over.

FRIDAY – 169.7 LIBRAS AT 5PM

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 day...

How does weight reduction affect performance?

OK, I'll save the rest of the diary entries and share some performance data.

While fighters are tested in competition, no one has ever documented how much strength or power they lose from dehydration. (Or how much strength and power they regain after putting all that weight back on.)

So we decided to check it out.

And it turns out that losing 20 pounds in 5 days doesn't help you be strong, powerful or agile. (Surprise!) I couldn't jump as high, lift as much weight, or run as fast or as long as I could during our baseline testing the week before.

ENERGY TEST: VERTICAL JUMP

Baseline: 31.7 inches

After drying: 27.6 inches

STRENGTH END TEST: 225-LOUND BENCHPRESS

Baseline: 15 reps

After dehydration: 5 repetitions

ENDURANCE TEST: MAXTIME WATER BELT

Baseline: 3 minutes and 14 seconds run at 13 km/h at 6% incline

After dehydration: 1 minute and 28 seconds jog at 13 km/h at 3% incline

No wonder these guys try to regain their full weight immediately after the weigh-in. They'd be screwed if they didn't.

By the way…

The smart way to gain weight fast

Once UFC athletes lost weight and weighed in, they could never play at a high level again. (As evidenced by my less-than-stellar performance in the gym).

What are they going to do next?You gain as much weight as possible in 24 hours.

See how they do it. (And how I did it too.)

DRAMATICALLY INCREASES WATER ABSORPTION.

according to dr Berardi, the body can absorb a maximum of about 1 liter of fluid in an hour. Because of this, he advises the fighters he works with to stop drinking. Instead, he tells them to drink 1 liter of water per hour.

However, fighters don't retain all that liquid. In fact, about 25% is probably lost in the form of urine.

So here's the math for someone like Georges St. Pierre:

  • 9 liters (20 pounds) of water to return.
  • 11 liters (25 pounds) of fluid between Friday weigh-in and Saturday weigh-in to get it all back.
  • 24 hours for it. 8 of them he will sleep and 3 of them are preparing for the weigh-in on Saturday.

This leaves a total of 13 hours for rehydration.

So as soon as Georges gets off the scale, he literally pours a liter of water and carries the bottle with him, filling and emptying it every hour up to 3 hours before his fight. (There is no toilet in the cage.)

EAT AS MUCH CARB (AND PROTEIN AND FAT) AS YOU WANT

Now is the time for fighters to load up on carbs and pull all that water they're drinking back into their muscles. It also helps them feel more human and look less sick. (Something I definitely experienced during my overhydration phase.)

The doctor. Berardi has his fighters eat a big meal right after the weigh-in. He doesn't restrict calories — his athletes can eat as much as they want at this meal, as long as it's healthy foods like lean meat, sweet potatoes, rice, and vegetables. (Gumbling up junk food is a bad idea.)

So, on Saturday (fight day), Dr. Berardi makes his fighters eat a satisfying amounthealthy nutrition in a few small mealsgo into battle.

ADD JUMP TO EVERYTHING

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

Here's my super rehydration plan:

weight gain schedule

FRIDAY AFTER THE WEIGH-IN

Carbohydrates: After weighing and testing, eat as much as you like in one meal

Protein and Fat: After weighing and testing, eat as much as you like in one meal

Rehydration Drink: Drink 1 liter of water mixed with 1/2 scoop of carbs/protein for every hour you are awake. (We usedPeak-Workout-Treibstoff.)

Salt: salty food

SATURDAY

Carbohydrates: Eat a satisfactory amount in four meals before weighing

Protein: Eat a satisfactory amount in four meals before weighing

Rehydration drink: Drink 1 liter of water mixed with 1/2 scoop of carbohydrate/protein drink for every hour you are awake, but stop 3 hours before the test.

What weight gain means for performance

How to Lose 20-30 Pounds in 5 Days: The Extreme Weight Loss and Rehydration Secrets of UFC Fighters - Author Tim Ferriss' Blog (4)

Back to normal.

First things first, I personally gained 16.9 pounds back in 24 hours. Not bad.

But the real question: how much strength and power do you really gain from super hydrating?

Answer: many.

Although I wasn't as good as my baseline (when I ran all the performance tests before starting the experiment), I made ittruthvicinity. This means that even though I tortured my body for a week, I was almost 100%.

And I totally wiped out my performance numbers from just 24 hours before when I was sick and dehydrated.

Run faster and longer, jump higher, and lift heavier for more reps.

ENERGY TEST: VERTICAL JUMP

Baseline: 31.7 inches

After drying: 27.6 inches

Rehydrated: 29 inches

STRENGTH END TEST: 225-LOUND BENCHPRESS

Baseline: 15 reps

After dehydration: 5 repetitions

Rehydrated: 12 reps

ENDURANCE TEXT:MAXTIMEWATERBELT

Baseline: 3 minutes and 14 seconds run at 13 km/h at 6% incline

After dehydration: 1 minute and 28 seconds jog at 13 km/h at 3% incline

Rehydrated: Run 3 minutes and 25 seconds at 13 km/h on a 6% incline

Lose weight. Gain weight. Battle.

For an MMA fighter, that's when he's getting ready to get in the cage and fight, which means you turn on the TV around the same time and see him bouncing up and down in his corner, always excited and ready for battle.

how much does it weigh

It's safe to say he's at least 10-30lbs heavier 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.

Very cool right?

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

###

Nate isn't done yet. Next we will havePart 2 -How to Gain 20 Pounds in 28 Days: The Extreme Muscle Building Secrets of UFC Fighters.

To learn more about Nate and his writing, check out histhe blog.

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