Weight Cutting is Difficult
Yolanda 'The Springbok' Schmidt / Pic: Fightmag

By far, the most difficult part of partaking in a fighting sport is the weight cutting.

As a professional fighter, you agree to a weight class and are expected to reveal that number on the scale. It is unprofessional and lazy if you fail to make the agreed upon division.

It is a difficult task regardless of gender. Though many female fighters are notorious for not making weight. While we can place blame on our hormones and cyclic changes, it has been said that a women’s body retains more water than a man’s would, based on our physiology. With no change in diet or training I can wake up at 57 kg today and tomorrow 2 kg heavier.

Due to a shuffle in fight card, I had to lose two kilograms on the day of my very first fight. At that stage I had no idea what I was doing. Two kilograms sounds like nothing. A man can lose that in thirty minutes in the sauna… But for a female it is more like two hours.

In Thailand many do long runs in vinyl sweat suits in the hot afternoon sun. The Thai weight cut follows dehydrating the body and shedding the water weight. After all our body is comprised of 60-70 percent water. However too many rely solely on cutting water to make weight. You need to eat clean too.

Why put yourself through it?

Your opponent is cutting anything between two to ten. Therefore, if you are not cutting, essentially you might be a bantamweight competitor getting into the ring with a welterweight. It ensures the fighter is more competitive within your specific division.

Medical professionals and nutritionists often warn regarding the dangers involved. They highlight that weight cuts should be done with caution and ensure you are aware of the potential consequences. Doing it incorrectly can lead to poor performance such as muscle cramps and more. It also increases the risk of injury and eating disorders. Jockeys, rowers and gymnasts share the weight cutting practice and desperate measure lead to the use of laxatives and starving for days. They send their bodies into caloric deficit.

Leading up to a fight female fighters experiences emotional and behavioral changes. The level of such changes increases even more while making weight.

Being female presents its own challenges regarding weight. I’ve recently improved the way I make weight to decrease the negative impact on my performance.

Learning to cut and refuel is an art in itself. You want to ensure you are strong when you enter the ring. Consuming too much too soon after a weigh-in can cause digestive problems and the feeling of sluggishness in the actual fight.

While the beads of sweat rolled over my skin in the sauna, I deprived myself of food and drink for a lengthy period of time and felt like a truck had dragged me along a dirt road. Within minutes of stepping off the scale, I drank two liters of water. I ended up bringing it all back up and not feeling well enough to take more than a few bites of my post weigh in feed.

I focused on how to lose the weight quickly but not how to safely refuel myself. Gradually rehydrating during the hours following the weigh-in with small sips of water and electrolytes. Consuming high energy carbs, good fats and protein is my suggestion.

There are many methods for weight cutting. Each person’s body will react differently. What works for me may not work for you.