Is cutting weight actually an advantage?


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Cutting weight, a part of most combat sports, is something most athletes don’t look forward to. In sports such as MMA(mixed martial arts), boxing and wrestling, athletes pick to compete at a certain weight and must make that weight on the day they weigh in otherwise they are unable to compete. Cutting weight is pretty much just losing a lot of weight in a short period of time. Some athletes cut upwards to 20-25 lbs in a few days.

Having been a wrestler since the age of 5, I am pretty familiar with cutting weight. I’ve been around guys who have cut 20+lbs in 2 days and I’ve also had to lose 15-20lbs in a few days. When I was little my parents wouldn’t let me cut weight because they said it stuns your growth. I just listened to them when I was little, but as I got older I made my own decisions and I felt that I almost had to cut weight because that is what everyone did. I felt as if I would be a disadvantage if I did not cut weight. Looking back now, I am wondering if cutting weight is actually an advantage?

An article published in December of 2012, by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, shows a meta analysis of 50+ studies done on athletes cutting weight and the effects of cutting weight on them and their bodies. They organized these studies into 5 subcategories. They looked at rapid weight loss very generally, the ways people lose weight, the physiological and psychological effects it has and the success/failure rates in competition of the athletes.

According to the analysis, a high percentage of athletes lose 2-5% of their body weight. In addition 40% of all the athletes in the study lost 5-10% of their body weight and there were some high outliers who lost even more. The athletes reported their varying methods of rapid weight loss, which include fasting, reducing liquid intake, saunas, plastic suits, vomiting, laxatives etc. The results of the meta analysis show that there are many psychological effects including, depression, decreased short term memory, concentration issues and increased rage. As far as physiological effects, most studies showed there was an effect on both aerobic and anaerobic performance. This refers to things like dehydration, increased heart rate and muscle depletion.

Overall the study is saying and showing the negative effects of cutting weight. I understand and can see all of the negative effects but I don’t think that will stop people from cutting weight. It has been a part of the sport for so long and still is a big part. I think they can continue to do studies and publish them but I don’t think it will stop people. If you are going to cut weight in sports I think that you should diet and do it more so in a correct way rather than starving yourself, not drinking water and running and sitting in a sauna.

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