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Jiu Jitsu and Weight Loss

Jiu Jitsu and Weight Loss


How many times have you heard it from your friends or family, or even a random person you’re talking to about Jiu Jitsu.  

It’s likely the most used excuse for not training on the planet. “I want to start training; I just need to lose some weight first.” For those of us who train, we likely respond with a puzzled facial expression.  We have had the opportunity to be on the mats, putting in the work, and seeing the results, not only in ourselves, but those around us.

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I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I have seen amazing transformations happen on the mats.  People losing dozens of pounds and becoming not only healthier, but happier versions of who they were, with more confidence and self pride.  For me personally, when I started training, I was 215 pounds, about 40 pounds overweight. I dropped 20 pounds in what seemed like the first few weeks, realistically it was likely a few months, but nevertheless it happened quickly, and without any change to my diet.  



Jiu Jitsu is great for weight loss and overall health for a number of reasons.  

Jiu Jitsu classes almost always have a team warm up.  The great thing about a team warm up is everyone encourages everyone else to do better, push harder, do more.  But on the flip side, you’re able to scale it if needed. If you are so out of shape that you can’t complete the warm up, THAT’S OKAY!  Push yourself a little more each time. Before you realize it you will be completing the warm up.

Drilling is good cardio.  Have you ever drilled with someone who was preparing for competition?  It’s like running a 5k with a sprinter, or at least what I imagine that would be like.  It’s 45 minutes of constant movement, you go, I go, you go, I go, and, repeat. Not only are you learning a skill, but you’re burning more calories per hour than any piece of cardio equipment at the local gym.

Live training (rolling) is an extremely effective form of cardio.  Done correctly, meaning we aren’t stalling for long periods of time and we are holding a solid pace, live training can burn over 3 calories per hour, per pound.  Let’s do some quick math on that. If you’re 200 pounds, that’s 600 calories per hour. In order to lose one pound you need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories.  Doing an hour of Jiu Jitsu 5 days a week will get you 3,000 or that. Looking at the numbers it’s no surprise why people lose so much weight training Jiu Jitsu.

Training makes you want to eat better.  In my experience it didn’t take long to realize that if I fueled my body with Oreos before class, I was going to be sluggish, feel sick, and ultimately not have a great time.  Whereas if I fueled my body with healthy foods throughout the day, I would be able to perform much better in class.



When we start looking at diets, there’s tons of options out there.  Personally, I have felt my best and been in the best shape when I do something similar to keto.  I find that I generally fell better when I’m consuming less processed food, specifically protein bars.  I have also found that black coffee in place of an energy drink makes me feel much better and mentally sharper during not only training but my work day as well.  There are millions of schools of thought out there on dieting, and I’m not a nutritionist.

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I do however know what has worked for me and what’s made me feel good both on and off the mats.  I find myself in my best shape eating low carb whole foods. I enjoy a lot of chicken or steak salads with a lot of water, and a considerable amount of black coffee throughout the day. I have also had a lot of success using intermittent fasting.  Typically I have found for me it’s easier to eat in the morning and have a decent lunch and fast through dinner, which is opposite of what is typically done. If you’re looking to find out more about intermittent fasting, check out this video from Tom Deblass on fasting and weight loss.

The bottom line is, you don’t need to lose weight to start training Jiu Jitsu.  You don’t need to do anything other than show up. Just keep showing up. The process will take care of the rest.  Jiu Jitsu is a fantastic way to lose weight, get healthy, stay healthy and learn how to defend yourself in the process.

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