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What is Weight Cutting?

By Kelly Ferguson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Weight cutting is a technique used by some athletes, such as wrestlers or fighters who are grouped by weight class, to lose as much weight as possible before a competition. This allows the athlete to qualify for a lower weight class, which gives him or her an advantage in the competition. Due to the fact that this practice often involves losing ten or more pounds in 24 hours, it is not necessarily healthy and is usually not recommended by doctors or nutritionists. It is not at all recommended that amateurs try weight cutting without supervision or that individuals use the techniques as a long-term weight loss method.

Some athletes try to lose substantial body mass before a competition. Diets, diet supplements, and aerobic exercise are all methods of weight cutting that focus on getting rid of body fat. Unlike the diets and exercise programs used by most people trying to lose body fat, athletes trying to lose fat using extreme weight cutting techniques may take fat loss to an unhealthy level. Sometimes, an athlete will purposefully reduce his or her body fat to an unhealthy level with the idea that, after the competition, the fat can be regained. Also, an athlete's dramatic weight loss often comes at the expense of muscle mass as well as body fat.

Another weight cutting technique used by some athletes is to get rid of excess food and water weight in the body. In other words, some athletes use controlled dehydration to shed water weight before the competition weigh-in. This is usually done by reducing the fluids consumed, exercising or sitting in a sauna to promote sweating, and taking a diuretic and a laxative to flush out even more water and ensure that the intestines are not carrying excess weight from previous meals. It is generally considered unhealthy to deprive the body of water for long periods of time, so athletes using this weight cutting method often do so under very controlled conditions.

After the athlete is weighed prior to the competition, rehydration usually begins immediately to reduce the harm done to the body. Additionally, an athlete will typically start eating more food again to replenish the energy he or she lost while weight cutting. Making sure that the body quickly returns to its original state in terms of hydration and fueling will reduce the risk of any health problems related to the weight cutting and get the athlete back to feeling energized and ready for the competition.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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