For any fighter, keeping your body fit and in its prime should be the number one consideration. That said, many fighters will use weight cutting to help them gain an advantage during the fight. This can have ill effects on our body, but with a thoughtful, planned approach to weight cutting, a fighter can limit the damage to the body.
Weight cutting poses dangers to many organ systems of the body, especially the kidneys which are affected whenever athletes adjust their hydration. Extreme weight cutting also can increase the likelihood of injury during the fight.
“Cutting weight can strain your kidneys and other organs,” states acclaimed MMA coach and manager Jeff Clark, who works at the San Diego-based gym TheArenaMMA. “Another major worry is that a fighter can deplete the fluid around the brain. This can increase the risk of trauma, as well as creating a higher risk of a knock-out”
In general, it is smart to start thinking about weight cutting about four to six weeks prior to the fight. Your goal is to get as close to the weight limit as possible, to give yourself more space to bulk up after the weigh-in. This means that a fighter typically should be about 7 to 12 pounds higher than fight weight a week prior to the weigh-in date. The best way to get to this point is with a combination of heavy training and eating a healthy and balanced diet that is low in fat.
At one week prior to the weigh-in, you should begin the more extreme weight cutting. To do this, it is recommended that you drink distilled water only. Because this lacks added minerals and nutrients, it throws off your Ph balance and makes it easier for the body to quickly shed water weight. The night before weighing, stop drinking the distilled water and spend time in the sauna.
Once you have dropped the weight and weighed in, you need to rehydrate and put pounds back on. Don’t overdo it, slow and steady is the way to go. Drink items such as non-distilled water, Pedialyte and coconut water to replenish your system. Eat fruits and healthy carbs to help your body heal and regain weight.