Written by Matt D’Aquino, a multiple Australian and Oceania Champion and a 2008 Beijing Judo Olympian. He has been studying Judo for over 23 years. He is a 3rd Degree Black belt and a black belt in BJJ. Matt is also known worldwide for his excellent website Beyondgrappling.com .
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.
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 and the theory behind each one. This is not going to be an article of exactly what to do its an outline of techniques used, for more info do some research.
Dieting before the competition
Many people believe in dieting before the competition. To burn the last bit of fat so that their entire body weight is all muscle they usually diet using low an all protein dinner or no dinner at all. To lose weight you must burn MORE calories than what you put in your body. Many studies suggest 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 resulting in burning more calories throughout the day.
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 when preparing meals, knowing what and what not to eat as well as eating enough not to get run down or ill.
Low Carbohydrate diet:
Low Carb diets are very popular. There are many versions out there but are all very similar. Same say have carbs 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 then change the diet.” Make sure when dieting to talk to a professional or research yourself so you are doing all the right things. 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. Make sure you know your body; everyone is different so listen to your body and adjust your diet 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 (75 kg) 4 kg, and girl (60 kg) 2 kg worth of weight and it can’t 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 won’t just sit in your gut unnecessarily weighing you down.
Another negative aspect of low fibre diets is the fact that these foods don’t contain vitamins and minerals. I recommended that on any diet you should be taking multi vitamins and minerals to supplement any you might miss in your regular diet.
Diuretics are a drug 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 people do is drink up to 6 litres of water a day 2 weeks out of competition 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 body into thinking that it is holding water so it continues to flush itself out.
I think this is bad for 2 reasons. Your bladder is overworking and the human body is smarter than that.
Also 2 weeks out form the comp I wouldn’t want to be 2 kgs heavier due to too much water, mentally that is not good.
One of the most popular theories is that drinking caffeine dries you out, this is true to an extent. Let me explain: If you drink 1 litre of water your body may hold onto 600ml of it, therefore excreting 400 ml of it. Caffeine is a diuretic meaning that if you drink 1 litre of it your body will only hold on 200 ml of it and excrete the rest. Therefore people assume it helps you loose weight but in actual fact your body just holds onto less of it that’s all.
This theory is similar to the negative calorie theory with the celery.
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 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 the 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 lose 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 I believe it cools you down resulting in less sweat being excreted by the skin.
Exercise in there: Push-ups, 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. These athletes don’t know that once your core temperature is raised you will start sweating, it doesn’t just keep rising, once its raised it stays at that level. The sweat can only come out so fast and any more exercise is just going to waste your energy.
I have found that many females cannot lose much weight in the sauna, these girls I recommended to go for a run or exercise in the sauna.
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 put baby oil all over their skin and 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 stupid because why are you making it harder for your body to sweat by clogging the pores, shouldn’t you let the sweat come out.
How long do you sauna for?
Some people like to sweat it out in on 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 sat arvo and maybe if I’m lucky and I’m underweight ill eat some dinner. This is all up to the athlete and how comfortable they feel in doing it the way the want.
I don’t lose weight in the sauna?
I don’t know why but some females just don’t loose 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
I can’t 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 turn 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 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. 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. She fights +78 and only weighs in at 85 kg. She is so fast and strong she placed 2nd in the open t 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