Can You Lose Weight Doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a super effective (and fun) martial art to learn, in addition to being a super complex exercise that works the whole body. As a BJJ practitioner for more than 10 years now, I guarantee you that there’s not a single sport that will make you as exhausted as Jiu Jitsu does. Training sessions are very intense, especially in the beginning. Usually, that’s excellent news for those looking to cut some pounds, but can you lose weight doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

As a general rule, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an exceptional way to lose weight. On average, an adult can burn between 565 to 1100 calories in a single BJJ session. Combined with a good meal plan, you can lose weight very fast doing Jiu Jitsu. Plus, you’ll learn excellent martial art in the process.

To put in perspective, 1 hour of weight training burns, on average, 245 calories. Running 1 hour at a moderate pace burns approximately 637 calories. A single session of BJJ with the warm-up, techniques, and 3 or 4 sparrings (rolls) of 5 minutes each can burn as much as 1100 calories. So if your goal is losing some weight, BJJ is definitely a go. To help you in this journey, I’ve prepared a step-by-step guide to lose weight doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Losing Weight Doing BJJ: A Step-By-Step Guide

The main goal of a student doing BJJ needs to be learning how to fight. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to enjoy the classes and the learning process. But what about a “collateral” result of losing fat and getting stronger? I am confident enough to say that this is a result that you’re going to see in your first months of BJJ. Also, it’s not rare to see overweighted students losing between 8 to 22 kg in the first year of training.

Can You Lose Weight Doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Photo: Globo Esporte. Helder Mourao Lost 34kg Doing BJJ.

When you learn more about metabolism and weight loss, it’s easy to understand why people lose so much weight when they start training Jiu-Jitsu. BJJ is a physical activity with very high energy demand that is usually performed 3 to 5 times a week. Considering an average adult individual, this can result in an extra weekly caloric expenditure of around 3000 to 5000 calories. For someone who is overweight, do you think burning 20,000 extra calories a month would help or not? With this kind of calorie burn is hard to not lose some weight even if you don’t change your habits, but if you’re looking for extraordinary results, follow the step-by-step guide below.

1) Train BJJ At Least 3 Times A Week

Let’s imagine a goal of losing 1,1 pound (500g) per week. This is an excellent number, that would represent 4,4 lb (2kg) less per month. To achieve that, an average adult needs to burn around 3500 calories, and there are two different ways to achieve that:

  • Reducing your daily food consumption in 500 calories (3500 calories a week); or
  • Burning 3500 calories a week through exercise (maintaining the same food intake).

The ideal is to combine diet and training, but as it’s just the first step let’s focus on how much BJJ you need to train to burn those 3500 calories per week. A traditional BJJ class for average students (not competitors) usually takes 1 hour (5 minutes warm-up, 5 minutes stretching or drilling, 25 minutes of technique, and 15 to 25 minutes of sparring).

Considering this exact training division, an 80kg-person would burn exactly 1137.32 calories in 1 hour. That’s awesome. Almost too good to be true right? I know. But the math is here to prove me right. Per hour, for each kg of body weight, an adult burn:

ExerciseCalories Burned (for each kg of body weight per hour)
BJJ Stretching1.81 calories
BJJ Warm-Up2.43 calories
BJJ Techniques and Drills3.25 calories
BJJ Sparring (Roll)4.87 calories
Reference Numbers:

Basically, it shows that if you manage to add 3 training sessions like this in your weekly routine you’ll be burning about extra 3500 calories, enough to cut 1,1 lb every 7 days.

2) Drink Plenty Of Water (At Least 35 ml Per kg)

We all know – or should know – that drinking water is fundamental to our lives. Talking about the importance of water for our body has already become a cliché, but for those who want to lose weight training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, this is an essential point. In a BJJ training session, it’s normal, at least for me, to lose between 1.5 and 2 kg immediately after the class, especially when it’s a GI training. But don’t get excited: this loss is almost exclusively water, minerals, and impurities, that are eliminated in sweat.

Except for impurities, it’s very important to drink a lot of water to replace this lost liquid (and to eat well to replace the minerals, but I don’t want to skip the next tips). To reach this goal, there’s another math that you can use to control your daily water intake. For an average healthy individual who exercises, a good metric for the daily amount of water to drink is 35ml per kg of body. That’s way more than most people consume, and following this tip can generate several benefits, such as:

  • Improved kidney function.
  • Increased satiety (less hunger, as I’m always hungry I love this one lol).
  • Improved skin health.
  • Less retention of fluids (fewer pounds on the scale and a better looking body in the mirror).

3) Eat Clean Most Of The Time

Here in Brazil is easy for me to eat clean. It’s my third year in a row following a well-organized meal plan, scaling my food, and controlling calories. But I understand that this is not for everyone (my wife hates it, for example). I prefer this method because it’s easier for me (a disorganized person) to stick to a plan.

To maximize your weight loss doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you need to eat clean most of the time. You don’t need to follow a specific diet or protocol as I do. Using the advice from Ben Bergeron is all the most people need to improve their diets: “eat real food, not too much, mostly plants”. Starting from the last part, mostly plants does not mean going veggie or vegan, it means adding vegetables and fruits to your diet. That’s very important to ingest micronutrients, antioxidants and replace those minerals lost in sweat during training. The not too much part is self-explanatory and real food is the key here. Avoid (don’t completely exclude) industrialized products in your diet. This allows you to eat more food and improve your overall health.

4) Resting Is As Important As Training

Training is one of the pillars to lose weight healthily. Eat better, drink water… All of these are important but will be in vain if you don’t give your body time to recover (especially if you’re a beginner). Increasing your weekly exercise load without resting for at least 1 full day a week and sleeping at least 6 hours a night will hinder your results and also your training performance.

Rest is important for muscle growth. Exercise creates micro-injuries in the muscle fiber, and rest helps in the repair, growth, and consequent strengthening process. Thus, the microinjury associated with the rest phase allows the necessary repair for hypertrophy and hyperplasia. When you don’t get the necessary rest period and your body is overloaded, you are more likely to make wrong movements and get injured. Overtraining can also increase the risk of overuse injuries, which can disrupt your training routine. So stick to the basics: train, drink water, eat well, and rest appropriately.

Related Questions

Does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Get You In Shape? As a general rule, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an excellent way to get you in shape, as a single BJJ training session can burn up to 1100 calories in 1 hour. Combined with a good nutrition, Jiu Jitsu is a powerful ally to burn fat and get in great shape.

Does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Make You Lose Weight? In short, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the best exercises to make you lose weight. As BJJ training sessions burn hundreds of calories, it’s common to see Jiu Jitsu practitioners losing between 8 to 22 kg in the first year of training.

How Many Calories Does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Burn? Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training burns between 565 and 1100 calories in an average 1-hour session. To put it in perspective, an adult with 80kg can burn 1137 calories in a traditional 1-hour BJJ class. To learn more, check this table with data.

Recent Posts