Have you heard about cutting weight before? What does it really mean?
Well, cutting weight is the demanding and temperamental cousin of our good friend, bulking (Check out our article on bulk supplements here). Not quite the same but related through necessity. Bulking whether done clean or dirty, allows you to do what any self-appreciating homo sapiens wants to do, stuff their face. It’s like being given the golden ticket to gluttony by your personal trainer or nutritionist. However, the body much like everything else needs balance and if you are prepared to bulk you must be prepared to shred.
Cutting or Shredding as it is also called is self-explanatory. You have to cut your portions in half so that you can get rid of all the excess fat deposits you have developed during your bulking. Bulking is necessary for anyone who wants to pile on the muscle mass because you do increase your muscle mass but you also grow out a dingy around your lower abdominals. We want to look trimmed so we provide balance to our diet with a period of cutting. This normally lasts a month or two before you see the effects.
As a personal trainer I have to look fit and in shape, otherwise clients wouldn’t want to train with me. I have been through the process of bulking and cutting before and the transition can deplete your strength, energy and make you rather hungry. However, I want to look at an extreme case of cutting done in a professional manner. This will provide us more insight into how we can imitate the professionals who cut weight and help our body reach its peak performance.
Combat sports require their competitors to meet weight. This is because rosters are divided into different weight categories and competition is deemed fair when neither competitor has a weight advantage. Cutting weight is also practiced by other athletes such as jockeys, rowers and gymnasts. So you can regard weight cutting as a familiar practice that transcends to different athletes. So if you are a novice when it comes to cutting weight or just interested; be sure to read on because I am going to explain the science behind weight cutting. Hopefully, you can gain a better understanding of the process or use these practices to your own benefit. Just make sure to do your research and understand your body.
Cutting weight has a lot to do with hydration and de-hydration. Your body needs to hold water and deposit water. Think of people cueing for a water slide, as the day goes on the cue dwindles and people move rapidly down the water slide. In this analogy, the people are your mass and I am pretty sure you can guess what the water slide is. The imagery is pretty obvious but effective. What us anatomy amateurs don’t know, is what we need to know. The conductor who passes the mass onto the water slide is an antidiuretic hormone called ‘Vasopressin’. This hormone helps maintain the water volume in the space between your cells.
‘Vasopressin’ reacts to hydration and dehydration because of this function. The mildest shift towards dehydration causes an influx in secretion of the hormone. So in simpler terms, when you are dehydrated the hormone reacts and tells the body to maintain water. When you are hydrated your body reduces the production of the hormone so your body starts to flush out your excess water. Your body flushes your water out through frequent urination. You are also more likely to sweat since your body is finding any available outlet to flush out your water.
So how do you manipulate these hormones?
That is a good question and the answer is simple, through water. You have to hydrate and dehydrate yourself effectively so your weight is cut. However there is an art to this. The key (and what professional athletes regularly do) is to maintain maximum hydration until 24 hours before a weight in. This is a water in-take plan developed by a professional boxer called Chris Algeiri.
Five days out: 2 gallons of water.
Four days out: 2 gallons of water.
Three days out: 1 gallon of water.
Two days out: 2 litres of water.
One day out: 1 litre of water.
Pre weight in: Sips when needed.
Next you have to sweat out your water but it is recommended that you workout your sweat by dressing in heavy, warm clothes and getting on a treadmill. This way you’re training while making your weight. Many people try methods of diuretics and bath salts but they can deplete water from your joints and increase the chance of injury.
So have you made the weight?
Now you have or have not made the weight, your body will feel weak because of dehydration. This will limit your performance and you need to gain your energy back for what comes ahead. It is not just about re-hydrating at this point, you also have to consider how your body absorbs nutrients through a process called ‘Macronutrients Kinetics’. Have liquid carbohydrates and liquid proteins because they are digested more efficiently than meat, fibre or fat that slows down the rate of absorption in your gut.
What else will help?
Well warm drinks and food cause a process within the body called ‘vasodilation’ which helps your body absorb nutrients faster. This means your body will recover quicker.
While this is arduous and tough on your body, cutting weight is necessary for certain athletes. For your average gym goer you should shorten your portions and maintain a good level of hydration. If you are thinking about competing and you need to cut weight, make sure you do it correctly and not take any short cuts. The short cuts are more damaging. It’s better to be safe than sorry
This article has been written by Chris Simon who is a Personal Trainer at Origym. He also enjoys blogging, MMA and swimming.
Image courtesy of nenetus and stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net