July 21, 2024
Learn about the science, risks, successful regimens, hydration, and technologies used by fighters to cut weight safely and effectively.

How Do Fighters Cut Weight?

Combat sports like boxing, MMA, and wrestling require athletes to compete within a specific weight class. In order to reach this goal, fighters resort to weight cutting – a process used to lose weight before a weigh-in and then gain it back before the fight. For those who are new to the sport, weight cutting may seem dangerous and arbitrary process. However, with careful planning and proper execution, cutting weight can be done safely. In this article, we will explore the science of weight cutting, the risks involved, measuring body composition, successful weight cutting regimens, nutrition and hydration during the cutting process, tools and technologies used by fighters, professional guidance, and highlight some tips and tricks used by top fighters.

The Science of Weight Cutting

The science behind weight cutting involves manipulating the human body to lose weight. Fighters use various methods such as water manipulation, carbohydrate depletion, and sodium loading.

Water Manipulation is where fighters restrict water intake to dehydrate themselves before a weigh-in. This is where fighters sit in saunas or hot baths while wearing layers of clothing to encourage sweating. This causes the body to lose fluid and excrete sodium that can result in shedding significant poundage. Unfortunately, the weight lost through dehydration is only temporary and can be dangerous if not done correctly.

Carbohydrate Depletion is when fighters eliminate carbohydrates from their diet to deplete their glycogen stores, which results in significant weight loss. This depletion works as fighters will eat only protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. However, carbs play a vital role in the human body, so cutting them out entirely can be harmful to the body.

Sodium-loading is when fighters retain water in their muscles. This process helps to get a fighter who is dehydrated by allowing the sodium to bind to water, helping to retain the water for longer, leading to better endurance and performance.

Each method has its benefits and is used in different scenarios. However, it’s crucial to use a safe method for every individual to avoid any danger.

The Risks of Cutting Weight

Cutting weight comes with risks that could be serious if not done correctly, which can include kidney damage, dehydration, and in severe cases, even death in extreme cases. Fighters can suffer heatstroke or can faint from the heat. In particular, a fighter’s body fat has shown to have a significant impact since cutting too much weight can significantly reduce a fighter’s energy and stamina, making it impossible to compete at his or her best.

To avoid these dangers, fighters should avoid cutting too much weight or too quickly, which leads to better performance. Fighters also need to be mindful of the weight cutting tactics and try not to push themselves beyond safe limitations.

Measuring Body Composition

To cut weight effectively, fighters must know their body composition as accurate readings help determine the body’s response to different weight-cutting techniques. Fighters have several methods to measure their body composition, including DEXA (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scans, skinfold calipers, and bioelectrical impedance.

Knowing the fighter’s body fat, muscle mass, and hydration levels can help determine what weight loss path to take. Each method has places of strength and weaknesses, and it is always best to conduct research on every method before applying any cutting strategy.

Successful Weight Cutting Regimens

Successful fighters have cutting techniques that have worked for them in shedding enough weight to make the weight class they need to be in. Many fighters have a period of time before their weigh-in, which means that they have the opportunity to cut down on their weight gradually.

Fighters always have a plan as to which weight class they want to be in before a fight. This helps fighters determine a strategy to shred off their weight before a fight. For example, fighters will cut 1 to 2 pounds of weight per week if the fight’s weigh-in dates are already fixed.

It’s important for fighters to find a weight-cutting regime that suits their body, their type of sports activity, and their schedule. Fighters should have a plan and follow the plan before the weigh-in time to avoid any future blockages.

Nutrition and Hydration During the Cutting Process

Nutrition and hydration are significant factors that fighters need to keep in mind during the cutting processes. Cutting weight does not mean that fighters can skip meals as it can result in malnourishment and dehydration. Fighters need protein, fiber, and healthy fats to maintain the well-being of their bodies to maximize their level of performance.

Drink plenty of water daily to keep your body hydrated. A well-hydrated body means a quicker metabolism rate, maximum sweat, and good weight loss. Fighters can also add electrolytes to their water to help with the rehydration process as their electronegative nature helps maintain hydration levels.

Tools and Technologies Used by Fighters

Fighters use a wide range of tools and technologies to help make cutting weight more manageable, safer, and efficient. One useful tool is a sauna suit, which allows a fighter to sweat excessively without dehydrating themselves. A diuretic is another useful tool that many fighters use to reduce water weight, but fighters should take a diuretic only under professional supervision as it can be dangerous.

Bathroom scales are crucial, and it’s advisable to get one that can measure to the smallest decimal level, such as to the tenth of a pound. Proper information about any of these methods helps players make informed decisions about their weight and the effect it has on their body.

Professional Guidance

Fighters need professional guidance to make safe decisions when cutting weight, especially for first-timers who are new to the sport. Guidance from experienced trainers and nutritionists is essential, and ideally, they should create specialized nutrition and training plans to meet the fighters’ individual needs.

Seeking help from professionals ensures that fighters can achieve their goals safely. Professional assistance helps avoid exhaustion and problems during and after the fight, keeping them relaxed and energized to perform at their peak.


Weight cutting is a practice that requires precision, patience, time, and professional guidance. Maintaining a balanced diet, proper hydration, and a well-planned regimen with consistent monitoring can guarantee great results. Ultimately, fighters must understand their bodies, apply the right techniques, and be mindful of the dangers that come with cutting weight to fight at peak performance.

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