The ins and outs of making weight
Morehen provides some excellent research-driven insights into how this is possible.
Firstly, fighters might want to ‘manipulate their gut content’, which is a polite way of saying they’ll be sitting on the toilet for a while to get rid of the food they’ve eaten. To do this effectively it is recommended to reduce fibre intake, and consume high GI (glycaemic index) carbohydrates. The glycaemic index is a measure of how quickly carbs cause your blood sugar to rise, with higher scores given to foods that cause a sharp rise in blood sugar.
A practical recommendation might be that the athlete consumes a sugary drink containing 50g of carbs, instead of eating 50g of carbs found in a baked potato. In this case, the fighter gets the same amount of carbs in, but the body removes the liquid drink faster than the solid baked potato. It is possible to lose 1-2% body weight in a day using this technique.
MORE: A complete guide to making weight safely
Manipulating the carbohydrate intake for the athlete might also be a useful way to tip the scales in their favour. Simply put, the body stores carbohydrates in the muscle in the form of glycogen. This glycogen binds to water in the muscle for storage and this water and glycogen combination can be heavy. Therefore lowering muscle glycogen levels through reduced carbohydrate intake could also help when looking to lose those last few grams.
“Some of my rugby players at Warrington, they used to lose around 2.5kg in a game without even thinking about it. But I would never say they were forcibly dehydrating, it was just part of playing rugby,” Morehen said.
On the morning of a fight, the athlete could wake up and still need to lose some extra weight, and this is traditionally done by deliberately dehydrating themselves to a small degree – it is reasonable to lose 2-3% of body weight in this way. To put this into context, professional rugby players could easily lose 2.5kg of water in a game. So a 2-3% reduction in body weight is not a massive stress on the body.