Cutting Weight – 3 Nutrition Tips For Combat Athletes

The weight cutting process can be difficult and sometimes even dangerous, depending on how much the athlete needs to lose in order to make a weight class. There are a few important steps a combat athlete needs to do in order to make a weight cut successful and achieve it safely;

  1. Decreasing Inflammation

  2. Nutrient (Carbohydrate) Timing

  3. Depleting Excess Water / Sodium

Planning Ahead  

Forecasting your training and nutrition in advance will allow you to line up dates and phases effectively, that way you are comfortable with the weight requirement and not crashing into it in those last few days which causes extra stress on the body and can lead to injuries. Certain phases of training require certain nutrition adjustments, if all is done well, a fighters weight cut can be successful without negative effects.

Decreasing Inflammation

A big problem with athletes that are cutting weight for a fight, is not that their body fat is very high, it is that their dealing INFLAMMATION LINK INTEGRATED HEALTHwith excess inflammation. The increase in water and inflammation caused by increased stress, nutrient depletion and food can be dramatic when you see the numbers on the scale. Food intolerance’s are a large contributor to what people see as weight gain and inflammation. Refining your food choices and deducting those, especially in the early stages of training or a camp, will help you gradually decrease inflammation and bloating

Nutrition Timing

Your body uses different sources of nutrients as fuel sources, depending on what is in your body at that time and what energy systems you are tapping into. If you look at an endurance athlete, like a long distance runner, they tend to have very little muscle mass and body fat while in their peak training cycles. Your body uses fat and carbohydrates as initial energy sources throughout the day. Once those are depleted in the body, you then rely on muscle tissue in order to continue moving. You can take advantage of timing your carbohydrate intake with your workouts to create fat loss without decreasing muscle mass and strength as a combat athlete. 

Depleting Excess Water / Sodium

The final step suggested is to decrease sodium intake. Sodium and water are both important factors in muscle growth but are not good to have in your body at high levels when it comes time to weigh in. When cutting for a weight class, this tends to be another big factor in the final push. You might have a low body fat percentage, but the weight on the scale might not reflect that. Doing this a week or two in advance of a weigh in is always going to be the best plan of attack. This will allow you to adjust at a healthy pace as opposed to doing a hard weight cut a day or two out, then costing you a lot of strength and lean muscle mass in the process. Having a scale to monitor your total body water and body fat percentage is your best tool.

Losing fat and gaining or maintaining muscle in the process can be a battle, but with a well planned out nutrition and training plan, it is achievable to do so in a healthy and productive way that will keep you strong, injury free and energized for your fight!

Steve Parkhill

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