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LEARNING MUAY THAI; 5 UNDENIABLE, PROVEN BENEFITS...

 
Learning Thai Boxing
 

1. Increased fitness and cardiovascular improvements

Training in and competing in several different sports and physical activities over the years has given me a pretty good perspective on what is the most demanding and beneficial in terms of overall health and fitness. Whilst almost all the things that I have done, either combat sports, more endurance or strength based activities, have proven to be great for improving fitness or strength, personally speaking and from what so many others say, nothing is as all encompassing as Thai Boxing training is. Maybe something like crossfit will provide the same or similar levels of overall benefits, probably more in terms of strength, however, Muay Thai gives you a lot more street cred! :0P

Muay Thai is aerobic, anaerobic and places huge demands on the body in terms of stress, in a positive way, if carried out correctly.

Important point; try to train at least 3 or 4 sessions per week to see the benefits and combine it with running regularly.

2. Strength - everywhere!

It goes without saying, if you are familiar with Muay Thai, that leg strength will improve, purely based on the amount you will be expected to kick, however, you also, punch, elbow, knee, clinch and throw too. So, you will be improving muscular strength and endurance in shoulders, arms and even in the neck. Kicking will not only improve strength across all muscles in the legs, it will also improve muscular strength in the lower back too.

Clinch and throws, among other techniques, will massively improve your core strength. This can help greatly with people who suffer from bad backs from sitting at desks or for lengthy periods in a car etc Combined with the abdominal exercises you will be expected to do in warm ups and cool downs, you will naturally start to see huge improvements within a pretty short space of time, whilst at the same time having fun. As opposed to those spending time in the gym trying to get a six pack for vanity!

Important point; don’t wait until each lesson to improve strength, there is more that can be done, however, it may take time to understand how much and how often to do your extra strength and conditioning. DON’T substitute a Thai Boxing lesson for a trip to the gym! If you wan’t to get stronger for your art, DO your art! 

3. Flexibility and mobility improvements

Depending on each individual, their age and their existing levels of mobility etc, it can vary in terms of how long it will take to see significant improvements. However, in most cases we have seen over the years, within a month of regular training, you will start to see and more importantly feel the benefits.

Personally speaking, I relieved back pains and increased mobility significantly in around 2 months of regular training, way back when I started.

As is the case with most martial arts, hips play a vital role in carrying out most of the technique required for each combination or move. Specifically kicking and clinch work, hips will be called upon and will therefore, over time, become more flexible and mobile.

Ok, you may not be doing the splits right way or sticking your legs behind your head (easy now!) but you will see huge improvements over time.

Important point; don’t wait until each lesson to improve strength, there is more that can be done, however, it may take time to understand how much and how often to do your extra strength and conditioning. DON’T substitute a Thai Boxing lesson for a trip to the gym! If you wan’t to get stronger for your art, DO your art! 

4. Relieves stress and makes you smile

Day-to-day stresses, arguments and especially mental health issues can be positively affected by physical activities, science has proven this. Muay Thai is the ideal outlet. It’s often fast-paced, high-energy and aggressive, and not in a negative way. There is nothing like taking out your stresses on a soft object that isn’t a person.

You can’t always guarantee that the session will be easy, but you can almost always, pretty much always, guarantee you will come away glad you went.

Important point; if you do suffer from mental health issues, try not to be afraid to discuss this with your coach. All decent coaches and instructors from reputable gyms will have been used to these discussions, and are there to help.

5. inclusive - one for all and all for…..you know how it goes…

In summary, providing any injuries or disabilities you may have are discussed with a health professional and with the coach prior to training, anyone can take part, at any age and any level of skill or fitness.

Thai Boxers are a diverse set of people; gendered or genderless. Tall, short, plump, skinny and of all ethnicities. One thing that is almost always a constant; a strong community and a willingness to help. Everyone has been a beginner and whilst you may get the odd showoff, egos are kept in check and at the root of it is the art and the love of the sport.

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MMA, Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai Boxing in Sheringham (Holt, Cromer and Surrounding areas)

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MMA, Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai Boxing in Sheringham (Holt, Cromer and Surrounding areas)

Finally, Martial Arts in Sheringham for everyone!

New to Sheringham, martial arts classes for effective striking, grappling, takedowns and much more. Finally, in North Norfolk, Iceni Warriors’ sister project; North Norfolk Warriors Academy will be offering multiple martial arts for any skill or fitness level from Wednesday 18th September. The first session is scheduled to be located at Sheringham Community Centre on Holway Road

 
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The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) classes in Sheringham will be available for anyone looking to improve self-defence, confidence or fitness. Coached by multiple British and English championship medalist, Michael Ford, the sesssions will be ideal for beginners, as well as those looking to compete. No equipment is needed initially and zero experience is required. Being fit is not a requirement, simply to be willing to learn.

NNWA’s Muay Thai Boxing lessons at the Sheringham based venue will help you to understand this beautifully, devastatingly effective marital art. Taking you through the technique of boxing, kicking, elbowing, kneeing, clinching, tripping and throwing like a true Nak Muay (Thai Boxer).


The North Norfolk location will be offering MMA classes for all abilities and fitness levels. Teaching the aspects of striking for MMA, grappling, throwing and takedowns, as well as everything in between. Go and learn safely and have some fun.



For any questions regarding any of the sessions, contact North Norfolk Warriors Academy.

If you would like to know what to expect, check out the blog about it and see if some of your questions can be answered. Enjoy!

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Stretch, Move, Improve...

Stretching is Essential, full stop!

Are you looking for the gaps in your abilities or quick wins in terms of improvements? Are you trying to find out the reason why you struggle on the last few kicks, punches of a speed drill (for example)?

You know your fitness is there, you know you should be able to do it but something is holding you back. What is it?

Well, it could be tightness or inflexible muscles or joints etc. The more flexible you are, the better your range of motion….OBVS!!! So the better your range of motion, the more effortless the movement is. Less effort means less energy expended. Less energy expended means you have more in the tank and more to give, and so on….

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X doesn’t always mark the spot…

It’s easy to think that improving flexibility in the hamstrings, for instance, is the key to improving the height or quality of your kick. And that doing some Chuck-Norris/Jean-Claude-Van-Dam-style-splits will help you get there. Well, yeah, it may help a little, however, not as simple as this. Muscle tightness or restricted range of motion can be caused by something not even that near to the part of the body or even where you think it is.

Individuals who suffer with Sciatica or have issues with their Psoas or Piriformis muscles can see face some flexibility barriers. People who are seated at a desk or in a car for large periods of time or people who have bad posture through lack of movement throughout their life will also suffer with flexibility issues.

Of course, we are referring to kicks but lack of flexibility in the shoulders, such as the deltoids and surrounding areas. Also, the lats, elbow joints, rotator cuffs etc etc, can cause huge issues with throwing hooks, jabs or whatever it is you are throwing at someone or something.

Movement in general can be hindrered greatly by lack of flexibility. So it really should be high up on the list of things you need to stay on top of.

So, all this talk of potential problems, however, no solutions so far……wait for it!

Where do I start?

Listen to your body when you finish training or in the hours/days following. What specific areas tend to suffer more? For me it is my shoulders and back (I am old though!). Whilst it is good to focus on the entire body, it’s not always easy in terms of time available. So, focus on the priority areas.

Also, think about your daily life and what is more likely to affect you based on this. For me, lots of sitting at desks and in cars. My back in general, but lower back for sure is a big issue, so I have a larger focus on this. Prioritse yours!

When I started martial arts, I used to think how lucky I was to be so ‘naturally flexible’ in my legs. This is absolute rubbish though. I wasn’t naturally flexible, it was all due to what I was doing when I was growing up. I had done ballet, tap dancing, modern and jazz at school. Yep, that’s right, you heard it correctly. I didn’t say I was any good, but I did it nonetheless. This set me up well in later life. I was able to do the splits easily both ways, stick my legs behind my head and esily kick above my head……(’WAS’ being the key word here!!!!)

However, my shoulder flexibility is not so good, this is something I have to work on constantly. And this is the key part of this whole piece, you have to work on flexibility and movement constantly. If you want to get flexibile or maintain flexibility, then you need to work on it constantly.

It’s not just about being flexible, it’s about staying injury free well into your old age. If you are 17 years old and reading this then this will mean nothing right now, however, from as young as late 20s or early 30s, you could be suffering from not having a decent routine for improving flexibility, range of motion and preventing injuries.

Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai and MMA will take a huge toll on the body and it will creep up on you stealthily. More importantly, sitting at desks, in cars or even checking out your social media feed repeatedly, will cause stress on the neck and back etc. As stated previously, this can cause other issues all over the rest of your body.

In summary, have a routine’ yoga is great but just move, stretch etc and make it regular and part of your life….FOREVER!

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Train smart for your art...

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Train smart for your art...

Make your training sessions relevant to you and make them fit intelligently with the rest of your weekly schedule. For example, if you know that tonight’s class is heavily cardio based, Muay Thai for example, then focus on something that won’t hinder that….

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A Norwich K1 night to remember...

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A Norwich K1 night to remember...

We had a great night representing local K1 at the fantastic Victory kickboxing series at the UEA Norwich. Whilst we didn’t get the results we wanted, our novice K1 fighters learned a lot and took much from it.

Claudio showed more heart and spirit than we have seen in a long, long time. He started of a little slower than we would have hoped but in the middle to latter part of the fight, dominated the shots, throwing more and causing his taller opponent some trouble, His opponent threw some nasty front kicks to Claudio’s head but he battled through and lost a close split decision. Claudio will be back stronger and will fight at his more natural lower weight.

Dan came out with enough energy to power a small town and really ignited the crowd. Whilst the energy was there, his focussed was not where it needed to be. He showed some great improvements from his first fight but he didn’t quite show his full potential and prove to everyone the great fighter that he is. Whilst he was ok to continue, he didn’t show the referee this, so the ref had no choice but to stop the fight after a knockdown.

Both our fighters showed heart, skill and willing and we have no doubt they will take things to the next level for Iceni Warriors.

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Is there such a thing as the best diet?

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Is there such a thing as the best diet?

Is there such a thing as the best diet?

At our Norwich gym, we are often asked, whether by Thai Boxing competitors or hobbyists, BJJ competitors or fun-seekers or even MMA fighters here in Norfolk and further afield, 'What is the best diet?'

So, What’s the “best diet” for people to follow?

Despite how many times I have been asked this, I still don't have a quick answer and usually, it's answered with another question or mostly several probing questions.

This is why; I don’t believe there’s a single, 100% perfect diet for every person to follow for the rest of their life, there are too many potential variables to consider and these variables even change as one gets older, or sadly if people develop a health condition etc.
Simple things to consider;

• Body type: so many different shapes and sizes, stocky, thin and tall etc

• Dietary preferences & exclusions: Vegans, Vegetarians, Pescatarians, Coeliac, Gluten-Free by choice, no red meat, other allergies and everything in between

• Budget: Some people have a very low budget to have to manage, others come with an unlimited budget.

• Existing knowledge: Some people already have a huge knowledge of one particular way of eating/living healthy and are almost cult-like in their following of this. Others come with very little nutrition knowledge whatsoever.

• Time: Some people have huge amounts of freedom to spend time preparing and sticking to every corner of their rule book. Others come with very little time to devote to health and fitness (the latter I would question strongly).

"The best coaches don’t actually have a single nutrition philosophy"

If a certain way of living, such as Paleo or Vegan worked for you personally, that’s great. 
However, just because it worked for you, at one point in your life, under a particular set of circumstances, it certainly doesn't mean everyone else should follow the same program that's both short-sighted and a little crazy. Any good coaching is about being open-minded and accepting of different philosophies.
Our bodies are able to deal well with lots of different nutritional changes and envirnonments.
Just take a look at the nutritional diversity across the globe, in different tribes, this varies greatly. When doing my studying for my nutrional qualification, I saw huge variances, for example, in the food pyramids, charts, squares, trees or whatever each relative health organisation chooses to utilise.

For example,

  • The Arctic Inuit and African Masai eat traditional diets that are very high in fat and animal products with very few vegetables.
  • In contrast to this, in the South Pacific, a specific tribe eats traditional diets that are low in fat but very high in vegetables and starchy carbs.
  • The Tokelau near New Zealand eats traditional diets that are very high in saturated fats.

All are relatively healthy people with minimal incidences of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, inflammatory obesity, etc.

The human body can adapt and is able to across a wide range of nutritional conditions.

So hang on a minute, you have read all of this and there is no conclusion as to what is the best diet for you? Nope, there is as I said from the start, another set of questions that are fired back to you. However, let's start with a demand from me first. 

Get to the root of the issue!

If you are not happy with your current diet then what about it is making you unhappy? As in what results are you getting or not getting and that is/are making you dissatisfied?

Answer this first, then we can start a food diary before you start to make any changes. 

If you are based in Norwich or Norfolk and you would like some free nutritional or specifcially, martial arts nutritional advice, and want to make some changes, either by losing weight, gaining muscle, toning up, getting ready for a competition, wanting to get stronger for either an MMA fight, Thai Boxing bout or BJJ competition. Then contact us either via any of the social media platforms, telephone or email.

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Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes you draw, you always learn!

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Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes you draw, you always learn!

SOMETIMES YOU WIN, SOMETIMES YOU LOSE AND SOMETIMES YOU DRAW, YOU ALWAYS LEARN!

Outcomes are not always what you want them to be, and to be undefeated, especially in fight sports other than boxing, is an unrealistic expectation. That is unless you take easy fights that you know you can win, and trust me, this happens and those who take that path will only come to the end of their journey unfulfilled and with too many unanswered questions. Sure this still happens in boxing but it does nothing positive for the sport. We all want to see the best fight the best, surely?

So far this year we have had some mixed results, back in February Brad lost on points to a very game opponent at the Road to the Muay Thai Grand Prix at the Troxy in London. His opponent was tall, rangy and very skilled. Brad fought over five rounds never retreating and never giving up. It was back and forth for a lot of the rounds but the range was a big factor and essentially what won the fight for Brad's opponent. Loads to learn from this and certainly a great showcase of talent on the night for all the Iceni team to learn from.

Brad getting hands wrapped by MMA Clinic's Muay Thai figher Shane O'NEill

Brad getting hands wrapped by MMA Clinic's Muay Thai figher Shane O'NEill

Alfie just before the storm. Brad throwing some shapes in background.

Alfie just before the storm. Brad throwing some shapes in background.

In April at the Gorleston Ocean Rooms we had three first time fighters; Marius, Charlie, and Alfie. First up was Alfie with a very, very close fight with both young lads showing heart and spirit. The first round was Alfie's opponent's round, with big punches being thrown from all angles and with huge ferocity. Alfie weathered the storm and dug deep to finish the round stronger than he started. The second round his opponent started strong but Alfie came back at him with some strong shots, the same could also be said of the final round. The fight ended in a draw but more importantly, both fighters would have learned a lot about themselves, also the crowd loved it!                                                                                                                                   

Charlie's shiner from the fight, still smiling though!

Charlie's shiner from the fight, still smiling though!

Charlie was up next and whilst he did well in the first few exchanges, his opponent was throwing absolutely everything he had and was determined not to go home with anything less than a win. This was Charlie's first ever fight and his opponent's second fight, so that extra bit of experienced, combined with the home crowd support for his opponent and a few small mistakes on Charlie's part, unfortunately, this was not his night. Loads to learn from this and iI think if the fight was run through again, the outcome would be the opposite, and it won't take long before he puts that 'W' on his record.   

Last up was the heavyweight, power puncher that is Marius. From the opening bell, Marius' opponent through a big kick that Marius checked but in doing so injured his leg. This was in his head throughout the fight and left Marius a little hesitant when moving forward. This didn't really make much difference though, almost every punch Marius hit his opponent with looked like it may end the fight, which in the end it did. It certainly wasn't the most elegant or technical of fights to watch but was definitely a crowd pleaser. Marius has only been training with us for a very short while so this was always going to be a bit of a warm-up fight, and with it being so difficult to match heavyweight beginners, it's great to get in there early and get the experience. Big win for Marius and plenty more where that came from!

Marius getting his leg iced after a heavyweight war!

Marius getting his leg iced after a heavyweight war!

 

 

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Preparing For Competition

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Preparing For Competition

The biggest battle is before the fight!

How do you reach the correct state of mind for competition?

Battling pre fight nerves

Straight away some of you have an answer in your head, right? Well the answer isn’t the same for everyone - everyone is different and deals with stresses differently when preparing for a competition.

Some competitors may prefer their coaches to be all <shouting> ‘come on, you are the best, you rock, you are going to destroy them, you have to do this, you were born to do this, give it your all!’ and so on. Some may prefer calm, yet reassuring comments, more specific to technique and game plan. There are limitless approaches to this and ultimately it’s the battles going on in the fighter’s head, certainly for the first few competitions, which are the biggest. Some competitors don’t get past this stage and lose before they even step into the ring.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win” 
― Sun TzuThe Art of War

To ensure that you can win is by ensuring you are as fit as you can be, meaning quality training prep, particularly with regards to cardio. Fitness is often one of the biggest and most common causes of failure, so if you nail this, the rest will seem significantly more comfortable. The next is being realistic and honest with yourself;  Ask yourself, "am I capable?" If the answer is yes, progress things further. 

The next step is making that definition between the use of the 'should' and 'could' in the statements you make. How many times have you said to yourself 'I should win this' or 'I should have won that' or 'I should be able to lose weight'? Most people have found themselves saying this but actually 'could' is a much more positive and hopeful word to use. Using 'should' is putting unfair and unrealistic pressure on yourself. It really isn't helpful, and many neuropsychological and cognitive behavioural studies have shown this over the years.

So to say 'I could win this' shows that you are capable and more importantly that you are prepared to give 100%. Or if after a loss 'I could have won that' (providing you are being honest in your own assessment) shows that maybe you didn't give 100% and that next time you know how you can improve.

Maybe this comes as a surprise, but 100% IS AS MUCH AS YOU ARE ABLE TO GIVE!!!! Forget what you hear footballers say and the rubbish spoken on talent shows, you cannot do better than your best, FULL STOP!

Placing unfair pressure on yourself will potentially set you on the road to ruin, maybe not now but in the future. By all means give it your all, in fact, make sure you do, because win, lose or draw you will be satisfied that you put everything into it. Sometimes people are just better and eventual losses are pretty much inevitable and a reality of life, why would it be any different when competing?

Lack of fitness or strength or lack of technique or skill compared to your opponents are all areas that a competitor can choose to work at and improve on, and mental training and preparation will be the glue that holds it all together.

A great source for helping you to deal with mental preparation not only in competition but also in life generally, is a book called 'The Chimp Paradox', from a very well-respected and world renowned psychiatrist; Professor Steve Peters. Steve is a consultant to the British Cycling Team, Sky ProCycling, Liverpool Football club and UK athletics as well as working with other Olympic and non-Olympic sports. Both Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton say that Prof Steve Peters helped them to win gold. Ronnie O'Sullivan worked with Steve in the run up to his 4th and 5th World Snooker titles. It is well worth a read and considering the techniques he recommends.

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Let's get functional

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Let's get functional

Functional Movement is King!

We have all been at that stage in our chosen sport, particularly with regards to combat sports and martial arts, where we ask our teacher or trainer ‘how do I get stronger and fitter?’

The answer to this question isn’t as broad as you might think; it can refer to very a specific set of skills, depending on which sport they are training for. So, for instance; Muay Thai – ‘I want to kick, knee or elbow harder or faster or be stronger in the Thai clinch’. BJJ – ‘be more explosive with sweeps and takedowns or have stronger jiu-jitsu or judo grips’.

The answer is rarely going to be ‘go and lift some weights and go running’- I think we all know that, however, it’s probably not going to be a one-size-fits-all approach either.

We all have things we are good at and areas we are faster or stronger in. On the flip-side, we all have areas we are weaker or slower in. Using functional strength and cardio training specific to your sport or martial art is key. A simple example being rope climbing to improve upper body and grip for BJJ or plyometric box jumps for explosiveness in legs for kicks - that kind of thing.

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Use your time wisely...

‘You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again’

- Benjamin Franklin

 

One thing that is constant for all of us is that we only have a limited amount of time each day. Time for any of us as individuals is not infinite (unless you know something we don’t). We have to take the time we do have and plan it wisely, specifically with regards to strength, cardio and your chosen sport.

Without proper planning or preparation, you could end up making things harder for yourself in the short term and therefore in the long run, too. For instance, you could be too tired from strength training exercises to be able to perform well in your chosen sport.

You may have had a heavy weights session on your legs, turn up to a Muay Thai class the next night and wince every time you kick a bag or take a light shot to the leg. This will surely hinder your performance and slow you right down, so allowing for rest time is vital to any successful training schedule. A key thing to keep in mind is that rest doesn’t have to be resting your whole body, just specific muscle groups.

Putting together your own training schedule can be quite difficult without support, however if you don’t have support, do give it a try for yourself as some planning is better than none!

If you do want some advice don’t hesitate to speak to someone at the gym and we can talk you through the first steps and put together a plan for you.

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Weight Loss vs Cutting Weight

Weight Loss vs Cutting Weight

Surely they are the same, yes? Nope, they are not. 

In this post I wanted to approach this subject broadly first but secondly with more emphasis on carbohydrates, I hope you find it helpful......

You may be looking to cut weight for a competition to improve performance or just get below the maximum weight for your specific weight bracket. Sports like combat sports or horse racing (the jockey's weight cut, not the horse's) are the most common that spring to mind. This type of weight cutting often - depending on how much you need to lose and your physiology - requires a lot of commitment and can be extreme and punishing on the body.

'Cutting weight' can involve huge drops in weight in small amounts of time, with athletes getting to sometimes dangerous levels of dehydration and malnourishment. With the added pressure of more frequent and intense training, it stands to reason that the two do not necessarily compliment each other.

Weight loss versus Weight cut

Alternatively, you may want or feel like you need to lose some weight and have taken the decision to drop some pounds and more importantly keep them off! Well, this is weight loss rather than cutting weight.

But what is the fundamental difference? One is temporary (weight-cut) and one is, ideally, permanent (weight-loss). The other big differences are the time it takes to achieve each of them and the most vital, the methods that are used to achieve each. 

drop the carbs at your own risk!

Dear Fighter,
Carbohydrates are your friend, not your enemy.
Yours sincerely,
The truth!

Occasionally I happen to listen in to a conversation the students are having or someone may ask me a question relating to carbohydrates, and I quite often find myself either reminding  or informing people (both competitors and non) that carbs don't need to be cut out from their diet. In-fact, in a lot of cases they shouldn't. Depending on how you deal with them as an individual, you need not restrict them at all. Food = energy and carbohydrates are a vital source of this energy. So why would you cut them out when you are going to need even more energy than usual to achieve your training goals? You can, for sure, get a quality, fast and effective weight-cut without cutting out vital sources of energy such as carbs. Equally you can achieve and maintain weight loss without cutting out carbohydrates. It's never a good idea, for most people, to cut out any major macronutrient (carbs, protein or fats) from their diet, it can lead to some long-term health issues.

Weight loss will be covered in many other posts but in the next post regarding this particular subject, I want to look at some more extreme forms and methods of weight cutting for Muay Thai, BJJ, wrestling etc and then look at how better to approach it. Something that could be more enjoyable and more importantly, easier to manage.

Happy eating!

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