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  • Cutting for MMA

    Cutting weight is integral to most combat sports and whilst there is an array of techniques that can help you to lose those extra pounds such as saunas, diuretics and even reducing your water and carbohydrate intake pre-fight, most athletes will want to reduce the amount of unwanted body fat months before to ensure the last days of cutting are that little bit easier. So whether you’re like Frankie Edgar and just want to maintain your current weight or you’re like Anderson Silva who allegedly drops down from 225 pounds off season to fight at middleweight, here we look at the supplements that could help as well as the calculations you need to know associated with muscle glycogen and water weight.

    Firstly before you even start to think about diuretics and sweat suits you’ll want to reduce the amount of unwanted body fat you have months before. This will make the final stages of the weight cut far easier and also ensure you don’t have to dangerously dehydrate or reduce your carbohydrate intake to make weight. Now obviously lowering your body fat is dependent upon a well-planned diet routine and a strict training plan but studies also show there are certain ingredients that could further help. Firstly perhaps the most well-known and documented of all fat loss ingredients is green tea extract. Containing the catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) a study conducted at the University of Geneva showed that green tea extract was able to increase the rate at which stored body fat is burnt by over 30%. Plus, a study published in the prestigious journal Phytotherapy Research, shows that as well as boosting the metabolic rate, green tea extract helps to block the absorption of fat. In other words, not only does green tea extract help you to lose the fat you've already got, it also reduces the amount of fat you digest and store on your stomach.

    Next one of the most widely used supplements on the market today is caffeine, not only for its ability to increase the metabolism but also because it ‘enhances fat oxidation and spares muscle glycogen by creating a more favorable intracellular ionic environment in active muscle.’ (Graham. T.E. 2001) Furthermore, researchers at Yale University found that the ‘favorable intracellular ionic environment’ created by the caffeine can improve your ability to burn more calories during exercise by stimulating the production of the neuro transmitter beta-endorphin, which studies show can reduce pain and perceived fatigue, which can then in turn increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.

    Lastly when fighters are looking to make weight they must be very conscious of their carbohydrate intake since although carbohydrates are essential to provide the necessary fuel source to fight and train, they also cause the body to release insulin which in turn makes us more prone to storing body fat. That’s why some fighters look to incorporate white kidney bean extract into their diet since it has been shown to neutralise the effects of carbohydrates, helping to reduce the conversion of starch (carbohydrate) in to fat. It achieves this because during the digestive process, your body converts carbohydrates, found in starchy foods such as potatoes and pasta, into sugar. Your body does this by breaking down the carbohydrate with alpha amylase, an enzyme produced in the pancreas. These calories are either burned off or stored as fat. White kidney bean extract "neutralizes" the digestive enzyme alpha amylase before it can convert starch into glucose and then fat, essentially allowing the carbohydrates to pass through the system safely and naturally. Fortunately for athletes looking to lose weight, Myprotein.com have created Thermo Extreme which contains all the ingredients mentioned above and has been specifically designed to help athletes lower their body fat percentage.

    Now once you’ve sufficiently lowered your body fat percentage and you only have a few pounds left to cut before you hit the scales there are 2 other areas you may want to look into, these being your muscle glycogen and the amount of water held in the muscles. Many fighters when looking to make weight will cut out high carbohydrate foods such as rice, pasta, cereal, energy drinks and bars since carbohydrates once eaten store as muscle glycogen in the body and weigh 18 grams per kilogram of muscle. To use the featherweight champ Jose Aldo as an example, at 66kg he has roughly 22kg of pure muscle and since muscle contains 18 grams of muscle glycogen per kilo this means 396 grams of Jose Aldo’s body is muscle glycogen. Therefore if he was to cut out carbohydrates 24 hours before a fight and perform 2 hours of light cardio like cycling at a slow pace on bike, he would be able to lose 396 grams before weigh in, that’s 0.396 kilograms or 0.873 pounds. Another way fighters might look to drop weight is to rid the body of water through saunas, sweat-suits, stopping water intake or even using diuretics. This can prove effective since 1 gram of muscle glycogen is linked to 3.5 grams of water. So using Jose Aldo as an example, if he has 22kg of muscle and 396 grams of muscle glycogen, which means he has 1386 grams of water in his muscles alone. That means through a light sauna, steady cardio and restricting water intake Jose would be able to lose 1.386kg of water (or 3.05561 pounds).

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