You may have heard before that those who compete in a sport that requires a specific weight category, need to know how to make weight for a competition.
But just how hard is this to do & what are the evidence-based strategies surrounding weight making strategies?
For powerlifting, competitors in IPF (international powerlifting federation) comps can expect just a 2-hour pre-comp weigh-in. This can seem tough, which is why the most popular form of cutting weight is dehydration.
But let's take a look into other acute weight-making strategies.
*note that long term weight making requires you to be in a sustainable, non aggressive calorie deficit if you would like to marry up your nutrition weight strength & not feel weak/fatigued/unable to recover
Most Popular Weight Making Strategies
#1 FIBRE MANIPULATION
Photo by Jane Doan: https://www.pexels.com/photo/slice-of-eggs-on-cakes-793785/
2-3 days before comp day you could follow a low fibre or "Low residue" diet, which restricts fibre to <10-15g. This can reduce gastrointestinal content & water in transit.
This can be expected to reduce body weight by 0.5-1kg. Quite crucial if you're close to making weight.
What foods do I avoid in a low residue diet?
Whole fruit/Dried Fruits
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto: https://www.pexels.com/photo/smiling-athlete-lifting-barbell-in-gym-4853329/
What foods can I eat in a low residue diet?
Low fibre veg
#2 WATER LOADING
Photo by Lisa Fotios: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-drinking-glass-1346155/
Quite a brave and even potentially dangerous approach to making weight.
The premise behind water loading is that you hyper-hydrate (we're talking 75ml/kg 4-5 days out from comp) which down regulates a hormone called "Aldosterone" (ADH) which then increases urine output.
1-2 days out from comp you then restrict fluid intake to 10ml/kg per day. Which see's urine output is still elevated.
However, there is limited evidence to support this as a valid and evidence-based technique for making weight, as there are reported to have been no significant changes in fluid-regulating hormones in subjects - Melin et al., (2002) Source/Credit: MNU - Mac Nutrition University
Photo by Andres Ayrton: https://www.pexels.com/photo/crop-person-on-weight-scales-6550832/
Dehydration is one of the most popular weight making tactics, in particular during the night before the comp.
This has the potential to work quite well if you are very sensible and generous with your rehydration tactics.
We are talking here about limited/having a cut-off time for your fluid intake the night before weigh-in until after you weigh in (if you have made weight in the morning, take small sips depending on your weight).
MENSTRUAL CYCLE & WATER RETENTION
Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-suffering-from-a-stomach-pain-lying-down-on-bed-6542724/
Yes, female competitors still have to keep this in mind when thinking about their pre-lifting weigh-in.
My best advice for this is to track your cycle and be one step ahead when it comes to knowing when and how much your weight fluctuates.
I hope this table helps in identifying when a typical weight fluctuation occurs in most women.
Weight fluctuations in a typical menstrual cycle (28 days) - Note your cycle may differ from this, so be sure to use this as a rough guide.
Photo by RODNAE Productions: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-a-woman-crouching-while-her-hands-are-on-her-head-5542968/
Stress has been seen in certain studies to increase the retention of water (cortisol reacts with the aldosterone receptor) - Runcie & Hilditch (1974)
So, take a breath. Relax. Go on a trip to the lakes a few days out! (this is legit what I did, 7/7 would recommend)
Before you Go…
Creatine, glycogen and sodium restriction 1-2 days out from competition should see your weight drop down, Take a look at our article on sodium if you are curious of its outcomes short and long term.
So, I hope this helps you fellow lifters if you are going to be making weight in the future.
Drop a comment or share on your IG stories if you found this useful and let's help others make weight, easily.
Don't forget, if you're interested in competing, enquire today about our strength coaching here at Infinity Performance.