How can I cut this weight?
May 9, 2006 10:53 AM   Subscribe

How can I lose weight? I'm entering a kickboxing tournament in July and I need to cut about 25 lbs... It's not going well.

I'm 5'6" and weigh 165 lbs, on paper I'm overweight for my height and weight, but I think I just have a really dense bone structure or muscle mass or something. I have a visible sixpack, as well as striations (sp? veins or whatever) in my arms and legs. I do have abnormally huge legs (not fat though, just huge leg muscles) so a lot of my extra weight is below my waist, but I'm not over muscled like a steroid freak. I'm super flexible, can kick above my head or touch my toes no problem. Pretty much what I'm getting at is that I have almost no fat on my body to cut out.

The other problem is my metabolism. I'm 22, and I've weight 165 lbs since I was 16. In those 6 years I've had workouts as diverse as running 50+ miles a week, playing interval or sprint/jog sports (soccer, ultimate frisbee, etc..) for 10+ hours a week, doing nothing but lifting weights at the gym 5 - 6 days a week, doing 6-10 hours of kickboxing a week, doing nothing for about a year while I got over an ankle injury, etc... I've never been able to gain or lose a pound in 6 years. It seems like my body just adapts to whatever exercise I'm doing and hardly burns any calories when I do it.

So why do I even need to lose the weight? If I fight at my natural weight of 165 lbs, I'll be going up against people who are all over 6 feet tall, their reach advantage alone will destroy me. For the last 3 weeks I've been eating more, smaller meals spread throughout the day. I eat breakfast, I don't drink soda and I've been trying to avoid crappy foods (no donuts, nothing fried, lots of of fruit and vegetables). I haven't lost an ounce. Anybody here have any tips for me? I'm willing to try anything short of starving myself/running around a sauna in a rubber suit.
posted by youthenrage to Health & Fitness (20 answers total)
Who told you to lose weight? Are you unable to compete with people your approximate same size, and that's why you want to drop 25 pounds?

If you really have no fat to lose, then I don't know if it's worthwhile. You might try going on a low calorie diet and see what happens.

I really like the tools at sparkpeople, you could check that out.
posted by pazazygeek at 10:58 AM on May 9, 2006

You're trying methods that are for losing fat. Your weight is all muscle so that's not going to work. The only way for someone like you to lose weight is to stop working out so much and let some of that muscle go. But won't that put you further behind in terms of strength and fitness?
posted by jacquilynne at 10:58 AM on May 9, 2006

Find out what your body-fat percentage is. If it's low enough (sounds like it is, what with the six pack and all) then you're out of luck with respect to losing weight via fat. In that case you can sweat it all out I guess (first season of Ultimate Fighter, who had to lose 25lb in 2 days?)..
posted by aeighty at 11:03 AM on May 9, 2006

Best answer: If I fight at my natural weight of 165 lbs, I'll be going up against people who are all over 6 feet tall, their reach advantage alone will destroy me.

Bad attitude, man. If you go into the ring thinking you'll lose, you will lose. Having a positive mental attitude is very important.

If you're not carrying excess weight and cant make weight safely, learn to adapt your game. Height isn't necessarily an advantage - start sparring with 6 footers and adapt your fighting style (eg, get in close and land hard body shots to the liver, knees (if they're allowed) are good too close in.
posted by the cuban at 11:24 AM on May 9, 2006

Best answer: You're fine. Muscle is heavy, that's a fact. Average height/weight charts are for the typical person, who is carrying fat but not a lot of muscle. (Interestingly, people in the military have this problem all the time - muscle-bound freaks with 1% body-fat go over the weight-for-height limits in the regulations and have to seek special waivers in order not be discharged for excessive fat...)

If you end up in the ring against people who are much taller than you, then, no doubt about it, they will not be as strong as you are. You know for a *fact* that if you're up against a six-footer, he doesn't have your arm or leg muscles. This should be a source of self-confidence to you - you KNOW you're stronger, all you have to do is figure out how to use that to succeed.
posted by jellicle at 11:41 AM on May 9, 2006

I don't know if it's worthwhile ... that's not going to work ... Bad attitude, man ... You're fine ...

So is anyone going to actually answer the question?

What worked for me when I needed to cut:

1. Never eat. Anything, ever. Eventually you have to eat, but put it off as long as possible, and then make it something satisfying but calorie-light. I used crackers: coated the stomach, gave that "full" feeling, could be munched on for awhile to give that "eating" feeling, but doesn't acutally provide much calories. You want the calories you need to workout to come from the body metabolizing itself, not stuff from the outside.

This will especially help in your case to cut down on muscle mass, as the body will resort to metabolizinng muscle in order to provide itself with energy. (Think how skinny famine or halocaust victims are. That's what we're shooting for [or pick your own skinny person for motivation]). If you're not pretty much on the edge of passing out basically all day, you need to eat less.

2. Never drink. Water is dense, man. If you absolutely feel like you are going to die if you don't drink, then rinse your mouth out with water, but then spit it back out. This will help because it will remove the dryness in the mouth, and some water will be absorbed through the mucus membranes in the, but not too much.

3. Work like hell. At least 2-3 hours a day of streuous aerobic workout. Never let your heart rate drop, and never take breaks. If you are able to move at all when not working out, you're either eating too much or not working out hard enough.

4. Keep a spit cup nearby. If you starve yourself, your mouth is going to water. Great! Exudated weight! Don't waste it by swallowing! I've weighed some of my spit cups in at a half pound or more some days.

5. Dress appropriately. I never used rubber suits, but I know many people who swear by them. If you are very serious about cutting weight, then it doesn't get much more serious than that. What worked for me is long johns and at least two layers of sweats, jogging gloves (you still have to punch, right?) and a wool cap.

This also provides a good gauge for a workout: by the time the third layer of clothes is completely soaked with sweat, your workout should be just about done. So don't stop until you have soaked the clothes all the way through. After that, I've always figured that if the clothes were saturated they couldn't whick any more moisture away from your skin, anyway, and the water might get re-absorbed by the skin, so you might as well hang it up for the day to dry. Its also a good motivator: by the end of each workout, that set of sweats should way many, many more pounds than it did when you put it on.

I've never used a steam room, but some people also swear by them. I figured that if I'm going to be sweating, I might as well be practicing or drilling or working out or doing something more productive than just sitting there. But then I'm a hacker. Just make sure that if you do go to steam, you take a buddy in with you, in case you pass out.

If you are serious about losing it, a month should be more than enough time. Hell, I've cut that much in days, and you have weeks! Don't let these defeatists get you down: even if you have no fat on you, that muscle can and does melt right away if you drop your caloric intake to starvation levels and keep your workouts intense. And also consider that our bodies are 75% (or whatever it is) water. That's alot of weight that will come out of you if you work hard enough.

Now, on to bulemia, diuretics, etc. I have to admit that I have stuck my finger down my throat on weigh-in days. If that stubborn 1/4 pound just won't come off, then you gotta do what you gotta do. However, in no way do I advocate this as a habit. Its silly, anway: if you maintain a strict near-starvation eating and drinking schedule throughout the days and weeks before weigh-in, you should never have to do this. I have no experience taking laxitives or diuretics. I wouldn't resort to any of this unless absolutely nescessary, were I you.

I guess that's about it. Again, don't listen to the nay-sayers. If you are serious about losing that weight, you can do it. Bear in mind, however, that there are few things on this earth more miserable than cutting weight. I've always said that boxing, fighting, wrestling, etc are by far the hardest sports because long after basketball players have gone home and turned it off, wrestlers are still working, still starving themselves, still denying themselves water, still hurting. Marathons last 3 hours. Wrestling lasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Anyway, enough ranting, Stay postive!
posted by ChasFile at 12:21 PM on May 9, 2006

Why not hit the sauna? You can bet your opponents will do it and perhaps outweigh you by 10 or 15 lbs at the tournament.

Set a goal of 155lbs IMO then cut the water before the weigh-in.

If the weigh in is afternoon, drink little to none the day before and hit the sauna a few hours the next day with a plastic sweatsuit.

As far as really hardcore diets there was one called the "fat-fast" diet, a google search will turn it up. People have did it and lost a lot really fast but it is not easy.

Good luck!
posted by wolfkult at 12:31 PM on May 9, 2006

I've heard that Rich Franklin and Matt Hughes (UFC midweight and welterweight champions) both walk around 20lbs or more over thier fighting weight and can cut that much in the sauna in a rubber suit the day before weigh ins, then gain alot of that back rehydrating before the fight. Check out the fourums at There's alot of fighters there who will be happy to share information.
posted by clubfoote at 12:32 PM on May 9, 2006

A 5 lb cut to make weight is one thing, but for a 5'6" guy with no visible fat to cut 25 lb of muscle in a month - that's going to make you a very different fighter, one that you've never trained to be.

You'll lose both power and kick speed: you almost certainly have the power and speed advantage in your current class right now. Your balance will get worse. Worst of all, you won't actually be gaining any reach; you'll simply be swapping power and speed for shorter opponents, opponents who may have trained at that weight all their lives.

That sixpack, and the rest of your upper body strength, are integral to your kicking style, and I'm sure they make you a holy terror to your current sparring partners. I know: I spent several years as a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, training daily; the best thing I ever did for my kicks was upper body weight training. Also, I'm 5'11", and I used to regularly get knocked flat on my rear by scrappy little guys built like you - they'd deliver a kick more powerful than my best jaw-dropper, but it'd come in so fast and low that I never saw it coming. I'd also regularly drop clumsy guys who were 6'4" and above, because you could see them coming a mile away, get in under or to the side, and totally knock their high center of gravity off balance.

Also, if you lose 25 lbs over the month of June, you're going to feel sick, weak and dehydrated at weigh-in. It'll affect your performance.

So I guess my advice is that it's not a very good idea. You're not going to get the reach you need to change your fighting style; you should probably make the most of what you've got, which sounds like a lot.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:39 PM on May 9, 2006

Also, if you lose 25 lbs over the month of June, you're going to feel sick, weak and dehydrated at weigh-in. It'll affect your performance.

a) Unless you've ever actually cut weight, I don't know how you can say stuff like that. If such a thing were true, why does just about every professional fighter and world-class ameteur wrestler cut weight? Why does every division I wrestling facility have a steam room? Why did they build one in "Ultimate Fighter" reality show's gym? You think Stalone wore the sweat suit and wool cap while he trained in Rocky because it was inauthentic? If you want to be the best, you do whatever it takes to gain an advantage over your oponents. If this whole "guys who cut weight are weaker than their un-cutting opponents" thing were true, nobody would do it. Lots do. Personally, if this tournament is anything approaching serious competition, I bet that if he fights at 165 he'll be fighting guys naturally 180.

Then again, maybe its just a rec league. Maybe its a couple strip-mall black belts kicking eachother in the face, I don't know.

b) How does stuff like the above actually answer the question? He asked "How do I cut weight," not "Should I cut weight."

Look, my advice? Don't cut weight. It sucks. It hurts, makes you crabby, and you pick up bad workout habits. But, on the other hand, are you willing to sacrifice everything to win? Are you willing to hurt so bad you'd rather die than go to practice, but then go anyway? Are you willing to go days at a time without eating? Are you willing to live in a constant state of metabolic acidosis? Do you want to win so bad you'd take yourself to the edge of death to do it? Then you'd better cut, because god help you if you go up against someone who answered 'yes' to any of those questions.
posted by ChasFile at 1:04 PM on May 9, 2006

Do you want to win so bad you'd take yourself to the edge of death to do it? Then you'd better cut..

Wow, that's some advice. What style of martial arts do you compete in?
posted by the cuban at 1:32 PM on May 9, 2006

I don't think bulimia is a practical or wise suggestion.
posted by Radio7 at 2:30 PM on May 9, 2006

Wow, that's some advice. What style of martial arts do you compete in?

Collegiate wrestling. (And there have been others, especially in countries where controls are nowhere near as strict as the NCAA's)
posted by ChasFile at 4:34 PM on May 9, 2006

jellicle said: (Interestingly, people in the military have this problem all the time - muscle-bound freaks with 1% body-fat go over the weight-for-height limits in the regulations and have to seek special waivers in order not be discharged for excessive fat...)

[derail] That's not quite the way the military works - or at least not the army. There is a height/weight chart for screening and soldiers are weighed normally twice a year for PT tests. If their weight is sufficiently high for their weight, they'll get a tape test. I don't know how accurate the tape tests are, but I do know that a significant percentage of soldiers in my unit weigh enough that they need to be taped, but very few of them don't pass the tape test. If the tape test is passed, there is nothing else to do - no waivers, no forms, no danger of being discharged.
posted by cactus at 4:54 PM on May 9, 2006

It seems like my body just adapts to whatever exercise I'm doing and hardly burns any calories when I do it.

Exactly. This is called homeostasis. Your body reaches a set point, and will try its hardest to stop you from messing with that setpoint.

IANAD (yet), but I'd strongly recommend AGAINST ChasFile's advice. I'd be pretty concerned about dropping 25 pounds in a month and a half. I can see trying to lose 5 pounds--but 25? That's ugly, and as ikkyu said, it'll really mess with your ability to compete at the level you think you can now.
posted by gramcracker at 6:43 PM on May 9, 2006

Adapts, sure. But adapts so that you're not burning calories? No. You may be fit, but you can't defeat the laws of thermodynamics.
posted by yellowcandy at 1:47 AM on May 10, 2006

I'm probably repeating stuff you already know, but sometimes it is good to hear it again:
Do NOT starve yourself. This will goof up your metabolism, and instead of getting rid of fat, it will go into survival mode and whenever you ingest food (cuz you'll have to eventually), it will more likely be turned into glucose. Even worse, you can lose muscle mass.

With that in mind, avoid simple carbs in white bread, white rice and fried rice, and snack foods. Don't drink any beer. Ever. Stay away from sugars and caffeine too. Avoid snacking.

Stick with proteins. Eat chicken, fish (grilled, not fried), and fresh fruits and vegetables (not frozen, and uncooked as much as possible). Develop a taste for celery without peanut butter. Monitor your intake and record it.

Start taking vitamin C and vitamin E, and a multivitamin. Maybe it's just me, but I don't feel as hungry when I'm taking regular vitamins.

Eat more slowly and chew your food with patience. It takes a little bit of time for your brain to figure out you're full right after you've eaten. Make sure your eating habits are consistent. Do not eat several hours before bed time, do not sleep after meals - both guarantee weight gain. Dinner should be your smallest meal.

Avoid snacking.

Beyond all this - if you are really serious about fighting, I would consider:

1. Consulting with a personal trainer or nutritionist about a balanced diet ideal for you.

2. Get someone to train you who can adapt to your body type and strengths. This seems to be a problem because you want to lose weight so badly.

3. Get an accurate measurement of your BMI - not cheap calipers or a BMI calculator you found on the internet, I mean by an actual sports physiologist or something. If your BMI is good there might not be much of a point to losing weight.

4. Go kick ass! I'm 5'8" and I weigh 185. When I played hockey actively my playing weight was around 180 and body fat was about 10 %. I liked having a bit of extra weight to throw around for bodychecks, and players couldn't see it under the pads, so I would often surprise people much taller than me who thought they could push me around. You have the same natural advantage - you have a low center of gravity and a lot of muscle mass. You can pack a lot of power behind your attacks, and you should be very hard to take down. On the other hand, if you were wrestling, you might be in trouble b/c of lack of reach. I would just work on maximizing your speed as much as possible, and just being healthy, confident, and comfortable with your body.

And did I mention avoid snacking? The key to weight loss really is to regulate your food intake while maintaining a certain level of physical activity. It needs to be tailored to you, so remember to do that while evaluating your priorities.

Good luck!
posted by tweak at 2:41 AM on May 10, 2006

Flagged ChasFile's advice as dangerous.

Bulimia? Try to look like a holocaust victim? Don't drink or eat anything? Never take breaks during 3 hours of aerobic activity?

posted by the cuban at 3:35 AM on May 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

Chasfile: I don't necessarily disagree with you. In collegiate wrestling, you start training with the understanding that you need to cut weight and make weight. Every part of your training is designed to get you ready to fight at your lowest weight; you don't do strength training to build bulk in muscles you won't use. And you spend all season, all 4 years, in, as you say, contraction alkalosis (not metabolic acidosis, unless you're using diuretics). Not only that, the weight classes are closer together than 25 lbs. Wrestlers try to drop 5-10 lbs to get to their weight.

This is a different situation - this fellow has been very clear that his body fat percentage is already quite low. He's 5'6 and 165, which means that he can either drop 25 lbs of muscle, 25 lbs of water, or a combination of the above. That's 15% of his body mass.

A 165 lb man with very low body fat contains approximately 116 lbs water. If he drops 25 lbs of water, he's depleted 21% of his overall water. In medical school, we learn that you stop being able to maintain a blood pressure when you're 15% volume depleted. I personally took care of someone who became 25% volume depleted during a heat wave, and that gentleman required 3 weeks in intensive care to put right - he nearly died several times. So the plan to drop 25 lbs of water weight won't work, and would likely be fatal.

What's left? Losing muscle weight. That makes our friend a weaker fighter. From your own National Collegiate Wrestling Association, here's a document about pulling weight [pdf]. It introduces the useful concept of 'usable weight' versus 'useless weight'.

Again, I think that if the goal were to drop 5 or 10 lbs for weigh in, it might make sense; but not 25 lbs.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:24 AM on May 10, 2006

weight watchers kicks ass.
posted by mgarnhum at 9:15 AM on May 12, 2006

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