DON’T DRINK TOO LITTLE
Manipulating your body’s water stores is an easy way to manage your weight.
Where it becomes a myth is where athletes live like that every day of their lives and you see athletes in the middle of, say, a winter training block, they’ve got no tournaments or boxing events coming up and they’re training in the gym in a plastic suit and restricting how much water they’re drinking.
They’re just reducing the quality of the work that they’re doing. They’re increasing the risk of rolling an ankle or busting a wrist and getting injured in sparring because they can’t concentrate properly, at the same time massively increasing their chances of getting ill.
The quality and intensity they’re going to train and compete at, you cannot afford to be dehydrated in a training session and you cannot afford to be dehydrated after a training session because the next morning you’ve got to go again.
After a training session you want to put back one-and-a-half times what you’ve lost. You want to put some electrolytes in there to replace the electrolytes you’ve lost in your sweat. After a hard training session you need some carbohydrates as well to replace the energy that you’ve lost. Boxers should not be afraid of water. They’re just conning themselves on the scales if they are. But they should know exactly what they can lose overnight in their sleep. They can factor that in for their weight loss on the last day.
When you’re dehydrated by two per cent of your bodyweight that’s when performance suffers. You can limit fluid intake in the last 24 hours before competition.
Your morning weight is your genuine weight before you eat and drink. Then, throughout the day, get into good routines of weighing yourself before and after training sessions to know what you’re losing.
DON’T STARVE YOURSELF
Weight loss is all about the rate of weight loss, when it comes to athletes and performance. There’s been some nice work published to show that when combat athletes are losing more than half a kilo a week that tends to be eating into muscle-mass. Half a kilo a week, that seems to be the perfect rate to be losing fat and protecting your muscle and strength and power. These guys train hard all year to build muscle and get strong and recover well. So you don’t want to be taking that away during your weight cut.
You just want to be getting rid of the fat and the water and the bits you don’t need. It’s the speed of the weight loss. Most people can eat a lot of good, healthy food and lose half a kilo a week. But the problem is with most young fighters, they’re losing two or three kilos a week and not eating anything. It’s all about the rate of the weight loss.
DON’T FEAR CARBOHYDRATE
If you’re looking to lose half a kilo a week, there are many different ways to do that. The simple thing is eating less calories. All these fancy diets you hear – high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat, high protein, low protein – it does matter, but from a weight-management point of view the key thing is you’re eating less than you need. Everything else is about structuring the diet to make sure it suits you and everything that you’re doing, and managing your appetite. I think cutting carbs out in the evening for example is quite good but it’s not necessary. If you’re disciplined and you can eat a small amount of carbohydrate in small meals right through the day, you’re laughing. Most people struggle with that, we tend to give them bigger meals during the day to manage their appetite and then in the evening we fill them up on protein and vegetables so they’re not hungry. The key factor is the energy intake, structuring it to suit your training so that your appetite doesn’t make you ravenously hungry so that you’re eating late at night.
It’s all about balance. For example, if we’re going to take to take someone’s calories down, I want their energy to be around their training sessions so that they can do some good work. We’ll put [carbohydrates] in lunch and breakfast so they’ve got energy to train and take it away in the evening. It doesn’t have to be like that.
*For training information and workouts from some of the biggest names in combat sport don’t miss the Fighting Fit: Train like the Stars special*