bjj for weight loss

When it comes to the benefits of BJJ, weight loss is certainly high on the list.

In fact, along with starting BJJ for self defense, losing weight is a major reason people begin Jiu Jitsu training.

But is BJJ good for weight loss?

The answer overall is that yes, BJJ can help you lose weight.

While weight loss is a complicated topic, Jiu Jitsu is a beneficial component of any weight loss program. Many individuals have impressive Jiu Jitsu body transformations after they begin their BJJ training.

In this article, we break down the ins and outs of all the BJJ weight loss benefits and give you the best Jiu Jitsu weight loss tips to help you on your BJJ body transformation.

How to Lose Weight with BJJ

Whether you are jogging or doing BJJ, weight loss is mathematically simple. You need to eat fewer calories than you burn. With that said, modest reductions in caloric intake as well as increasing the number of calories you burn are both ways to increase your ‘caloric deficit.’

The hard numbers are as follows: burning a pound of fat requires you to have a 3,500 calorie deficit. As such, if you are in a 500 calorie deficit every day, you would burn a full pound of fat each week.

Dietary interventions are the most reliable way to lose weight, though research suggests that exercise can be an effective component of a weight maintenance strategy.

The real challenge with weight loss is sustaining the combination of active lifestyle and healthy eating patterns that keeps the weight off long term.

This is where BJJ shines as a tool for weight loss. If you commit to Jiu Jitsu training, you will quickly find that unhealthy habits catch up to you very quickly on the mats.

What was once an appetizing lunch full of high calorie, nutrient poor, fried food such as a burger, fries, and soda, quickly becomes unappealing when you have upcoming training.

If you’re like many of us who get bit by the BJJ bug, you will learn to swap out unhealthy foods prior to training in favor of healthier options. Even making that shift on just a few meals per week can make a big impact on weight loss when combined with the intense calorie burn of Jiu Jitsu.

Given the long term commitment that it takes to get a black belt in BJJ, even a marginal caloric deficit can cause substantial weight loss over the course of your Jiu Jitsu journey.

While making changes to your diet is key for sustainable weight loss, BJJ training burns quite a few calories.

In this way, Jiu Jitsu attacks both sides of the  weight loss equation, allowing you to maximize your overall caloric deficit while benefiting from the dietary changes that Jiu Jitsu tends to encourage.

Disclaimer: you should always seek the advice of a registered dietician (RD) when beginning any specific nutrition program or dietary intervention. For general healthy eating guidelines, see the government-approved MyPlate recommendations.

How many calories does BJJ burn?

The calorie burn of BJJ depends on the intensity of your training and the duration. The harder you drill or roll, the more calories you burn. The same goes for training for longer periods or shorter periods.

An average 1.5 hour class including warmups, drilling, and live rolling will burn between 500 and 1,000 calories, depending on the previously mentioned factors.

How to Maximize Your BJJ Weight Loss

The following tips can help you maximize your overall Jiu Jitsu weight loss during BJJ training.

Increase the intensity of your drilling

Many BJJ classes do not involve drilling with any intensity. Of course, this is needed as you are learning technique.

However, once you have a few paths solidified such as a takedown, guard pass, side control transition, and submission, you can drill it back and forth with a partner at a more realistic pace.

Consider the following training protocol to boost the intensity of the session. Advanced students should train with 20 percent resistance and focus on the rhythm. Beginners should drill more slowly and methodically, but try to keep movement going the entire round.

High Intensity BJJ Drilling

Perform each drill 3 minutes per partner for a round total of 6 minutes per drill, one partner is uke the entire time

  1. Drill takedown to guard pass
  2. Drill guard pull to sweep
  3. Drill guard pass to knee-on-belly to mount transition
  4. Drill guard pass to mount to submission

This will increase the amount of calories you burn while also improving your technique, but not increase your injury risk compared to an all-out competition roll.

Eat protein after training

Increasing your protein consumption is key to avoiding muscle loss when you are in a caloric deficit.

Consider adding a high protein meal after BJJ training, such as one that includes lean meat or fish.

Even a protein shake after Jiu Jitsu training can help curb any muscle loss when you are training hard and maintaining a caloric deficit.

This extra protein will help you avoid muscle loss and keep you full, thus allowing you to stay in your calorie deficit.

Don’t eat more to compensate for BJJ

Its tempting to overeat after practice.

You finish some hard training, and you feel you deserve a big, rich meal as a reward.

While there is nothing wrong with eating a feast here and there, if your goal is weight loss, avoid the temptation to eat massive amounts of food after practice.

Remember, you probably only burned between 500 and 1,000 calories during training, so eating a 2,000 calorie meal automatically cancels all of that out.

Add weight training to your routine

Weight training can help boost your fat loss.

Adding some weight training to your BJJ routine can help you gain some muscle, burn more calories, and keep you active off the mats.

The extra muscle will also help you burn more calories naturally throughout the day.

Sign up for a competition

Source: @pavicichportraits

This may be the most controversial tip on our list, and it is certainly subjective.

Nevertheless, signing up for a competition and committing to a weight class that’s lighter than you currently walk around gives you an external weight loss goal as well as a deadline for actually reaching your goals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Jiu Jitsu a Good Workout?

Yes, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu provides a very substantial full body workout that can burn 500-1,500 calories per session and works virtually every muscle in your body.

Does Jiu Jitsu Build Muscle?

On it’s own, Jiu Jitsu is not going to build a ton of muscle as BJJ does not provide the necessary stimulus for muscle building. However, when combined with weight training, Jiu Jitsu body transformations can be impressive.

How Many Calories Does Jiu Jitsu Burn?

Jiu Jitsu burns anywhere from 500-1,500 calories per session depending on the intensity of training and total duration.

Losing weight with BJJ: the bottom line

Regardless of your personal reasons for losing weight, BJJ is a great way to get you closer to your weight loss goals.

The above tips can help you maximize your weight loss with BJJ.

Just remember, no matter what you have to eat less than you burn!