Making Weight Techniques
There are so many different ways to make weight, and sometimes it can become very confusing as to how or what you are going to do. Making weight can be difficult or easy; it all depends on how you approach it and the confidence at which you go about it.
Many things need to be taken into consideration when preparing for a competition. This can include dieting before the comp, sauna-ing, starving yourself, or moving up a weight division.
In this article I am going to give a brief outline of the different techniques people use in order to ‘Cut weight’ in order to reach a certain weight division. I will also give you a theory to each approach.
This is not going to be an article about what you should do. My aim is to give you an outline of the techniques used and from there, do some more in depth research, talk to your coaches and team mates, and then choose a technique that best suits you.
Dieting before the competition
Many people diet before the competition. I believe that everyone should be dieting year round. Dieting doesn’t mean missing meals or following a particular meal plan, dieting simply means ‘watching your diet and eating clean’.
Losing weight is simply energy in vs energy out. Meaning, you must expend (use up) more energy than what you put into your body, (through food and drink.)
Many studies suggest that having 3 meals a day slows your metabolism (Basal Metabolic Rate) but by having 6 small meals a day your metabolism is always increased resulting in burning more calories throughout the day.
Depending on how quickly your body adapts to dieting you may have to diet as much as 6 weeks out from competition.
Many people find dieting the hardest opponent in judo. Dieting requires discipline and constant monitoring and can be very mentally draining when preparing meals, knowing what to eat and what not to eat as well as eating enough not to get run down, overtrained and ill.
Low Carbohydrate diet:
Low Carb diets are very popular. There are many versions out there but are all very similar. Same say have carbohydrates for breakfast and lunch but none after 2 pm, and a protein dinner, while others say have no dinner at all
A very important rule when talking about dieting is, ‘if you are losing weight, don’t change the diet. Once you plateau in dropping weight then re-evaluate your diet.” Make sure when dieting to talk to a professional or research yourself so you are doing all the right things.
I also record my weight before bed every night and when i wake up in the morning. This helps me know what my weight is all the time, so if i am heavy ill watch what i eat, if im a bit light, i might have some sugary food. But many athletes don’t like jumping on the scales because they don’t want to know what they weigh. This is not the best way to go about dieting for competition.
Experience has shown me that on a low carb diet I don’t start loosing weight for around 2 weeks. But because I was dieting and not loosing any weight i would diet harder and harder and end up getting run down with a flu. Make sure you know how your body adjusts to dieting and training simultaneously and adjust diet and training accordingly.
The dark side of Low carbohydrate diets
The human body uses 4 energy sources, these are fats, carbohydrate, protein and alcohol. But the brain (the human bodies control centre) only uses Carbohydrate for energy. It doesn’t use any other energy sources, so if your muscles have no energy either does your brain. This is why on a low carb diet you are tired, lethargic, sleepy and mentally drained.
Many athletes don’t like dieting on a low carb diet because on a low carb diet you cannot train as intense or for as long. This is bad because leading up to a competition you want to be training at 100% without feeling tired, rundown and mentally drained.
Using a low carb diet (and dieting in general) is all about trial and error, the more times you compete and make weight the better you get at knowing how your body reacts and feels.
Low Residual diets
Low residual (Fibre) diets are mainly used in the last week or week and a half leading up to competition. The stomach can hold on the average male (75kg) 4kg, and girl (60kg) 2kg worth of weight and it can take up to 1 week to rid the stomach of that weight.
Put simply Low fibre diets are designed to empty everything in your stomach and digestive system thus making you lighter.
These diets are great because you can eat things such as white bread, biscuits, rice bubbles etc and due to the low fibre content the food wont sit in your digestive system for 3 or 4 days, they will pass right through and not take up any unnecessary weight.
Another negative aspect of low fibre diets is the fact that these foods don’t contain vitamins and minerals so make sure you are taking a vitamin or mineral tablet of some sort to supplement any essentials you may miss due to skipping some types of food.
Diuretics are a drug (in tablet or a dissolvable solution) that are used to flush out the body of fluid and food by making you go to the toilet a lot.
I personally I have never used diuretics but I have friends who have used them before. Some athletes take celery tablets and this supposedly makes you go to the toilet more often.
Another technique is approximately 2 weeks out from competition drink up to 6 litres of water a day Then in the last 2 days drink as little as possible. The theory behind this is to trick your body into thinking that it is holding excess water so it continues to flush itself out thus making it easier to excrete water.
I believe this is bad for 2 reasons. The first reason is that your bladder is overworking, to be constantly filtering all the liquid passing through is not healthy and i also believe that you cannot ‘trick’ the human body, it knows how much water is in your body.
Also 2 weeks out from the comp I wouldn’t want to be 2 kilos heavier due to too drinking way too much water because you don’t want to stress about the fact that you may be 1 kilo heavier than first thought..
One of the most popular theories is that drinking caffeine ‘dries you out’, this is true to an extent. Let me explain, for eg if you drink 1 litre of water your body may hold onto 600ml of it, therefore excreting 400ml of it. Caffeine is a diuretic meaning that if you drink 1 litre of it your body will only hold on 200ml of it and excrete the rest. Therefore people assume it helps you lose weight but in actual fact your body just holds onto less of it that’s all. This theory is similar to the negative kilojoule theory with the celery.
Cutting weight is the term used where you must sweat out water as well as eat as little as possible in order to make weight. This is the most common technique used to make weight in not just judo but also in wresting, boxing and even horse racing.
Some athletes can lose up to 6 kgs in the sauna depending on what weight division and also how much muscle mass they have. How much muscle is very important because muscle is 70% water, therefore the more muscle you have the more water you can lose in the sauna.
There are 4 ways you can loose weight in the sauna.
With clothes on: Some athletes get in the sauna with a lot of clothes on and sweat it out that way. This is a great way to heat yourself up quickly but once you start sweating your clothes become wet and it actually cools you down resulting in less sweat being excreted by the skin.
Exercise in there: Pushups, boxing, star jumps what ever you can think of. What these athletes don’t understand is that once your body temperature has been raised, you start sweating. There is no point exercising in the sauna because you can only sweat at a certain pace and by exercising you don’t heat up more and sweat more. So any exercise you do in the sauna is really just wasting your energy.
Sit in swimmers: Sitting in the sauna is, I believe, the best way to cut weight. Just sit in there and continually wipe down all the sweat on your body. This will encourage more sweat to come out.
Baby Oil: Some people sit in the sauna and put baby oil all over their skin. The theory behind this is to clog up the pores in your skin. This will raise your core temperature resulting in more sweat. I think this method is counter-productive because why are you making it harder for your body to sweat by clogging the pores, you should just let the sweat come out.
How long do you sauna for?
Some athletes like to suna over a few days. I do not recommend this at all. You want to be as dehydrated for the least amount of time possible. So if you fight on Sunday, sauna on Saturday night and only be dehydrated overnight opposed to doing it Saturday morning and being dehydrated all day.
Also while in the sauna give yourself enough time to get it done as easily as possible. Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t spend 1 hour straight in there, as this is physically and mentally draining. Bring along a sauna buddy, bring an ipod, magazine or newspaper, but take your time.
I don’t loose weight in the sauna?
Many athletes don’t lose weight in the sauna, this is because females have the lesser amount of muscle than males. If 70% of muscle is water, then females have a lesser amount. For these people i recommend getting a sauna suit, put a beanie on and go on an exercise bike or go for a run.
I cant find a sauna?
If you cannot find a sauna here are a couple of options.
- Put on a lot of layers of winter clothing and go for a run or sit on an exercise bike and ride hard.
- Rug up and sit in a car with the heater turned on full blast.
- Turn the hot shower on in the bathroom and let it get nice and steamy sit in there and sweat it out. (Just don’t burn yourself.)
- Sit in a hot bath and sweat that way.
Should I move up a weight division?
If you are sick of making weight and saunaing and all the rest of it just move up a weight division. It all depends on what you want to do as a Judo player. Are you a recreational player or competitive? Even then what are your goals? Can you move up a weight division and still be competitive internationally if not nationally. It really all depends on what you want out of judo.
Some athletes especially in the heavy weights can afford to give some weight away, as long as they are faster than their heavier opponents. For example Kurt Angle gave away around 10kg when he competed in International wrestling competitions. Another example is the heavyweight girl from Slovenia, Lucija. She fights +78 and only weighs in at 85kg. She is so fast and strong she placed 2nd in the open of the 2007 world championships.
For more info on different ways to make weight ask some of the older competitors how they made weight. Also do some research on the internet and find what’s best for you, remember that trial and error is the only way to perfect making weight comfortably.
I hope this report has helped you out when it come to thinking about how you will tackle the making weight problem next time.
Matt D’Aquino 27/02/2010
Last Updated on Monday, 01 March 2010 05:27