by Matt D’Aquino

There are many techniques used in order to make weight as well as so many things to think about. Everything from dieting before the competition, saunaing, starving yourself or even moving up a weight division.

In this article I’m just going to give a brief outline of the different techniques people try and the theories behind each one. This is not going to be an article or what to eat or drink its just an outline of techniques used. For more information do some research.

Dieting Before Competition
Many people believe in dieting before the competition. To burn the last bits of fat they diet, usually with low carbs, and an all-protein dinner or no dinner at all. To lose weight you must burn MORE calories than what you put in your body. Studies show that having 3 meals a day slows your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR (metabolism) but by having 6 small meals a day your BMR is always increased letting you burn more calories.

Depending on how much weight you have to lose you may have to start dieting 6 weeks leading up to the competition. Many people find dieting the hardest opponent in judo. Dieting requires discipline and constant monitoring and can be very mentally draining, especially on a low carb diet.

Low Carbohydrate Diet
Low Carb diets vary from having carbs for breakfast and lunch but none after 2pm and some even say have no dinner while others state only protein at dinner. A very important rule when talking about dieting is, ‘If you are losing weight, don’t change the diet. Once you plateau then change the diet.”

Experience has shown me that on a low carb diet I don’t start losing weight for around 2 weeks, so within those 2 weeks I was training like crazy and because I wasn’t losing any weight I was dieting even harder and stricter and I would end up run down and get some sort of illness like the flu.

The Dark Side of Low Carbohydrate Diets
The human body uses 4 molecules for energy, fats, carbohydrate, protein and alcohol. But the brain (the human bodies control centre) only uses Carbohydrate for energy. It doesn’t use any other sources, so if you have no carbohydrates you are mentally tired, lethargic and sleepy. Many people find that they cannot train as hard with a low carb diet because they have no energy, not just for there muscles but also for their bran.

Many athletes don’t like dieting a low carb diet because lading up to a competition they want to be training at 100% and not feel tired, rundown and mentally drained. But its all about trial and error and the more times you compete and make weight the better you get at it.

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 cant take up to 1 week to rid the stomach of that weight. Low fibre diets are used to not to flush the stomach but to make sure that whatever is getting eaten doesn’t stay in the stomach. It goes in and out due to the fact that there is minimal fibre in it. These diets are great because you can eat things such as white bread, biscuits, rice bubbles etc and you know that they wont just sit in your gut unnecessarily weighing you down.

Diuretics are the term used for trying to flush out your body of body fluid and food. I don’t really know much about diuretics because I have never used any but I have heard that having celery tablets 3 times a day helps you to go to the toilet more often. Another technique people do is drink up to 6 litres a day of water the 2 weeks out of comp and you can imagine how often you would go to the toilet drinking that much. Then in the last week they drink as little as possible the theory behind this is to trick your boy into thinking that it has heaps of water in it so it continues to flush itself out. I think this is bad for 2 reasons. Bad for your bladder as well as your body is smarter than that and also 2 weeks out form the comp you don’t want to be 2 kilos heavier due to too much water, mentally that’s not good.

One of the most popular theories is that drinking caffeine is a diuretic, but this is true to an extent. Let me explain, for example 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. Same as that negative kilojoule thing with celery.

Cutting Weight

Cutting weight is the term used where you must sweat and eat as little as possible in order to make weight. This is the most common technique to make weight. Some athletes lose up to almost 6 kgs in the sauna depending on what weight division. Muscle is 70% water so male’s lose weight in the sauna a lot quicker than females, the more muscle you have, the more you weight you lose.

There are 3 ways you can loose weight in the sauna.

With clothes on: Some athletes get in the sauna with heaps of lothes on and sweat it out that way. That’s a great way to heat yourself up quickly but once you start sweating your clothes become wet (yes it is warm wet) but I believe it still cools you down and also stops you from sweating because the hot air cannot get to your skin. You then have a whole bunch of wet clothes that stink to take home.

Exercise in there: Pushups, 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. What they don’t understand is that once your core temp is raised it doesn’t just keep rising once its raised it stays at that level. The sweat can only come out so fast, if you keep exercising your just going to get tired.

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.

How long do you do it for?
Some people like to sweat it out in one big hit (also saves money), but if you have a bit to lose and you don’t mind paying try losing the weight over a couple of days. For instance, if I fight on Sunday I will sauna a little on Friday and then Saturday arvo and maybe if I’m lucky and I’m underweight I’ll eat some dinner.

I don’t loose weight in the sauna?
I don’t know why but some females just don’t lose weight in the sauna. For these people I recommend buying a sauna suit and go for a run or bike or something. Just rug up and go for it, maybe these girls need to go and exercise in the sauna that may help them out.

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 judo wise. 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 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 did wrestling. 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 at the 2007 world championships.

For more information on different ways to sauna ask some of the older competitors and do some research on the internet and find what’s best for you. I hope this report has helped you out when it comes to thinking about how you will tackle the making weight problem next time.

If someone asked me what a human being ought to devote the maximum of his time to, I would answer, “Training.” Train more than you sleep. Masutatsu Oyama