Making weight for a meet is tough. Often an athlete will leave it to the last minute to try to cut weight in order to make it into their weight class and this is a common mistake.
Big weight loss two weeks out
Let's get one thing sorted straight out of the gates, if you need to cut weight for a meet don't try to leave it 2 weeks out to cut 5+kgs. While it is possible to do so, it doesn't mean that you should do it and it definitely isn't an option that is good for your body. To drop that kind of weight you'd need to be in a catabolic state at some point. That means your body will eat away at your hard earned muscle gains. Have you ever noticed when you do a massive cut before a meet that everything feels harder and you don't feel quite as strong? It's because you aren't. You've most likely lost some muscle in your cutting phase and, in most cases, were cutting it so fine that you couldn't have a decent meal the night before or the morning of your meet or even a decent hydrating drink. You can generally cut about 5% of your body's mass in a water cut if need be but there are other ways to ensure that you're getting to the platform feeling stronger than ever
There is a better way
If you think about your diet, you can delve deep into why and how you eat. Changing they way you think about your weight prep for comp will ensure you can be stronger than ever and feeling good on the day of your meet.
When should I start my weight cut?
Let's first take a look at how far out you should start your weight cut. Now, the answer is now. Now is when you should start thinking about how you're eating and how it will affect your weight and body composition. Here's why:
It takes away the stress of ‘the cut’
It buys you time to make adjustments in order to get the results you want.
You can focus on muscle maintenance and work on fat loss to get to the right weight class
You can still lift better than ever on comp day
Eat clean to get lean
Now let's take a look at what kind of foods you should be eating. Remember, you are an athlete and you are competing in a sport that requires the best from your body. To have the athletic body you want you can't eat bad food regularly. You have to fuel your body better to ensure it will perform like the like the finely tuned machine it is. Eat lean meats, fruits & vegetables along with few starchy carbs (once or twice per week for starchy carbs). Eat good fats and stay clear of sugar (that includes soft drinks, juices, sweeteners. All of it).
Energy in vs Energy out
That's just a basic look at your dietary needs in order to fuel your body properly. The next thing that you need to worry about is how much food you are consuming vs how much of that food (you have consumed) you've used as energy.
To cut a long story short, if you consume more energy (in the form of food) than you use (in the form of exercise and daily activities) you will gain weight. If you consume less energy than you use during the day and exercise, you will drop weight.
How can I monitor my food?
There's a couple of different ways. Firstly, if you want to try it on your own, you can opt for using a food tracking journal that will calculate your caloric needs and tell you your caloric expenditure per day (like My Fitness Pal) or record your food in a journal and have your food coach monitor it and of course, seek advice from a professional.
Do I need to do more cardio?
So we've established that you need to keep track of what you eat and eat nutrient dense foods. Should you train more? You shouldn't really have to. If your dietary needs are based on your current training needs then you should be able to continue with your regular training schedule and still drop weight. At the most, if you're worried about making weight you could add in some slow go rowing or low intensity cardio for long periods of time to burn more calories without the catabolic effects.
Cutting water weight
Lastly, you might need to cut water weight in the final weeks or days leading up to the meet if you're struggling to make weight but that is a different article to be discussed later. There is a lot of info you need to cut water weight. You shouldn't put your hopes into a water cut.
Keep track of your diet through testing
A good weight cut leading up to a meet will have you feeling full and hydrated until the 24hrs before your meet and shouldn't affect your performance. At JBC we have body composition tests that are done after one meet and a repeat test is done again a few weeks leading up to the next meet to see what improvements have been and need to be made in order to make weight.
After your weigh in you'll need to eat a decent meal and rehydrate. Make sure you rehydrate with something that can also restore your electrolyte and body salt levels (like a Gatorade or Hydralite) and eat a nutritious meal prior to warming up. Also ensure you have enough snacks to keep you going through the meet.
To summarise, if you want to make weight for your next meet you should first decide if you need to cut. Then focus on your diet sooner rather than later and then leave the final kg or two to water cutting in the final week. Do some slow and long cardio to help create a caloric deficit without going catabolic. Complete a body composition test long before your meet so you know where you can make improvements. Have the body composition test redone a few weeks out from your next meet to see if there is any more improvements to be made. Make your final improvements needed and put in place water cutting techniques if needed. Weigh in, refeed, rehydrate and set a new record!