Is BJJ Good For Weight Loss?


Is BJJ good for weight loss?

Losing weight and keeping it off is a battle for so many people. One of the best ways that I have found to lose weight is to find a diet and exercise plan that you can stick to. A vital aspect of that is finding ways to burn calories that you can enjoy. My favorite way to burn some extra calories is through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or BJJ. In this article, I want to argue why I think BJJ is great for weight loss. 

BJJ is good for weight loss because rolling is a fun and enjoyable way to burn extra calories. After all, losing weight is simply a matter of burning more calories than you consume. Of course, you will also need the right diet to go along with your BJJ workout if you really want to shed some pounds. 

If losing weight through a diet and BJJ is intimidating to you do not worry. My goal in this article is to help you understand how you can use BJJ to help you lose fat.

In addition, I will also help you understand how to properly diet to lose weight. After all, BJJ can burn a ton of calories but these calories can easily be replaced with more calories consumed in your diet. 

How Many Calories Does BJJ Burn?

I’m just going to be upfront and honest with you on this one. The fact is that it is extremely hard to estimate exactly how many calories someone burns when rolling or practicing BJJ. The reason is simply that it is harder to track than other forms of cardio or exercise. 

If you take running for example it is easy to track running speeds, distance, and body weight. You can take those numbers and do some calculations and get a decent estimate on how many calories someone that size likely burned during the workout. 

That said, when rolling you can really use an easy marker such as distance covered. Of course, you could buy some fancy heart rate monitors or fitness trackers that might help but my point is that it is harder to estimate. 

So with that said, I am simply going to give my best generic estimate for how many calories are burned rolling in BJJ. If you were to include warm-up, drilling, and rolling, I would estimate that you burn about 2-4 times your body weight in calories per hour. So if you weigh 200 lbs you will likely burn 400-800 calories training BJJ.

Of course, to burn 800 calories in one hour of BJJ would mean that much of that hour was spent with intense rolling. So personally, if my goal was to lose weight I would air on the side of underestimating calories burned rather than overestimating them.

If you weigh 200 lb and are pretty new and not yet rolling hard it is likely much closer to 400 calories. After a little while, this will likely be much closer to 500 calories per hour. If you can burn an extra 500 calories per day it could add up to about 1 pound of fat loss per week. 

Will You Lose Weight With BJJ?

All that being said, burning extra calories through BJJ is only one aspect that you must understand. If you do not control the calories coming in through your diet then BJJ might not help you lose as much weight as you might hope. 

After all, it has been shown that many people who pick up exercising without controlling calories simply replace the calories burned with more food. So what might happen is that you go train your butt off in BJJ and burn an extra 500 calories and you end up eating 500 calories more for dinner than you naturally would have. 

This is because training hard and burning extra calories naturally makes a person more hungry than they normally might be. Your body often times will try and compensate for calories burned and keep you at the same body weight. So instead of eating 3 slices of pizza, you end up eating 5. 

Of course, some people have found that they can naturally lose weight simply by adding exercise to their routine, but many people might just find themselves stuck at the same weight. Which I can tell you from personal experience is quite frustrating. 

How To Use BJJ To Lose Fat and Keep It Off

On the positive side, many people have great success using exercise to help keep off body fat. After all, losing weight is often the easy part whereas keeping it off is the hard part. If you are like me and have been on diet after diet then you have probably lost a ton of weight. In fact, you probably have literally lost a ton of fat over your life.

After all each day you might lose a little fat and gain a little fat back. Or you go on a diet lose 20 lbs and then gain it back. So we have literally lost and gained who knows how much weight over our lifetime. The goal is to lose the fat and keep it off. 

How Many Calories Should We Consume?

I would suggest most people reduce their calories to 500-1000 below their maintenance calories per day through diet and exercise. Maintenance calories are simply the number of calories it takes to maintain your current body weight.

Generally speaking, this is somewhere around 12-17 times their current body weight in calories. 12 is for people very sedentary and 17 would be for athletes and people with hard physical jobs. You can also check out this calculator as well to get an estimate of how many calories you burn in a day. 

These are of course simply estimates that are not perfect,  however, it is a good place to start. Once you find out your maintenance calories simply reduce your daily calories by 500-1000 below that number. This will equate to roughly 1-2 lbs of body fat per week. 

If you are bigger or have quite a bit of body fat to lose then you can cut calories by up to 1000 below maintenance. If you are on the smaller side then you probably want to stick to only cutting calories to 500 under maintenance. Or another way to look at it is to aim at losing .5-1 percent of your body weight per week. 

How To Structure Your Diet and BJJ For Fat Loss

Now that you have a good understanding of how to lose fat using a diet and BJJ, let’s put a game plan together. Let’s say that you are a 200 lb man with a pretty normal job that is pretty sedentary. You like to go on walks and are mildly active outside of work but are not what someone would call an athlete.

You have some muscle but let’s be real you are not a ripped 200-lb beefcake. In fact, if you stripped of all the extra fat you would probably be a lot closer to 160 lbs.

In this case, I would estimate maintenance calories to be closer to 13 times body weight per day. So 200 x 13 = 2600 calories per day to simply stay at your current body weight.

My advice would be to reduce your calories to about 500 below your maintenance. So that would be 2100 calories per day which would give you about 1 pound of fat loss per week. On top of this, I would also add in BJJ 2-5 times per week. 

If you are more active then use 14 or 15 times your body weight. It won’t be perfect so just learn to adjust as you go. 

How Much Weight Can You Lose Through BJJ and Diet?

Let’s say you add BJJ to your diet and train 3-5 times per week. We will also estimate that you get to the point of burning 500 calories in on BJJ session. So at 3-5 times per week, BJJ can help you burn an extra 1500-2500 calories per week.

With the roughly one pound per week you are already losing through diet you could lose an extra .4-.7 pounds of weight by adding BJJ. 

So with a good diet and BJJ program, you could easily lose 1.5 pounds or more per week if done properly. Of course, you will have to get good at counting calories and keeping to your diet. But honestly, there really is no way around this if you want to lose weight. 

Eventually, you might get good enough at estimating calories but at first, I would be diligent with calorie counting. Since you are going to be physically active I would also suggest eating at least 1 pound of protein per pound of goal body weight. So if your goal is to weigh 160, then you need at least 160 grams of protein per day. 

Besides protein, you can have a balanced diet, go low carb, or go low fat. As long as calories are equal then you will lose the same amount of body fat. Going low carb can help you shed some water weight at first but it is not real fat loss. 

No matter what diet your choose I always find it easier to stick to eating mostly whole foods that are rich in protein and fiber. This is simply because they are more satiating and will help you stay full on fewer calories. So lean proteins, low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables are going to be your friends. 

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