You sweat hard to cut excess weight, injuries are all very common, and you always try to keep everything up. You take heavy hits within the Octagon and give the mat bruises, cuts, broken bones, and get worked out muscles. However - that's just on a fight day—a fighter's experience to combat a day isn’t 100% complete if there is no weigh-ins. As any professional fighter would suggest you, the fear of the level can be poorer than any fighter.
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Consider Bellator Roger’s example who is a middleweight veteran. Rogers participated professionally at 185 pounds for a long time of his career. One of his fights - against former UFC heavyweight Joey Beltran, required him to diminish 26 pounds in five days—a challenging need. He called one man, for help and he was George Lockhart: “I received the call when somebody has the hardest weight cut in their life,” says Lockhart, a former fighter and now nutrition guru. “Some athletes are seriously damaging their metabolism. Later on down the road, their metabolic rate is going to breakdown.” Lockhart, 32, was assigned to help Rogers reach the 186-pound threshold, a goal all middleweight fighters required to do. Rogers got rid of that weight, but also lost his bout with Beltran at Bellator 136 via majority decision.
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Athletes are putting their systems through hell is an all-too-common occurrence in mixed martial arts. Two fighters on the key card of UFC 183 lost weight. John Lineker is one of them, former flyweight-turned-bantamweight contender. He was forced to move up a weight class by his senior, UFC President Dana White, after his fourth breach. Lockhart says that this issue begins in a fighters’ camp. “Camps have them decrease salt and carbohydrates three weeks out. They will diminish weight massively in the beginning,” he says. That only hinders the body’s ability to produce more sweat, because it will begin to retain water. Keeping both water consumption and sodium levels balanced is imperative to lose weight in a healthy way, Lockhart adds. To reach the scales at the appropriate weight in the safe way, his athletes are brought down slowly in what is known as a pre-cut. Lockhart suggests diets for each of his customers to follow that make them sure that weight loss will be healthy and efficient. He tactically maps out a daily eating plan, which is comprised of carbs and protein, although it's unique for every fighter. One of his long time clients - Dustin Poirier, recently made a memorable return to the lightweight division at UFC Fight Night 63—mostly thanks to his maintained healthy diet.
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Those who neglect this important step and make a beeline for the sauna come fight week are not nourishing their bodies. Not only are they “cooking their insides,” as Lockhart says, but they’re also speeding up their ability to get knocked out. “You can see fighters who walk with pain – it is their joints hurt. Everything hurts,” Lockhart adds. “As little as 3% dehydration is equivalent to a 30% decrease in actions. Don’t start pulling things from your vital organs.”
When your body feels like it's lost too much water, it secretes the hormones vasopressin and aldosterone. The former shuts the body's pores, while the latter handle sodium intake. Both lead to water maintenance, which is contra productive to a fighter's ability to lose the remaining weights. Tricking the system into thinking that it has already collected sufficient amount of water—Lockhart calls this a "waterload—will deactivate the vasopressin, which will make your body keep sweating.
When females are concerned, it is even harder. They normally can't cut weight like males can, primarily because of their higher estrogen levels. "The female body doesn’t have the same amount of muscle mass and ability to absorb water,” Lockhart says. “If you stick a pretty lean man and woman into a sauna or hot tub, that man will manage diminishing incomparably more weight in the same amount of time given.” However, this could not be an obstacle for a former UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey from losing 17 pounds in the span of a day, to show that this is achievable. While making The Ultimate Fighter season 18, she seemingly went into a sauna for five hours to prove a contestant who had missed weight just how simple (or hard) it was.
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Conditions concerning eating, such as bulimia, are inopportune byproducts of combat sports and something “Rowdy” Rousey had to deal with that at an early age. “Any sport that has weight divisions is going to make you very conscious of your mass,” Rousey told Jonathan Snowden of Bleacher Report. “I had tons of issues regarding healthy eating and maintaining a healthy self-image. It was something that I had hardships with for a very long time.” Partner bantamweight Holly Holm aggressively diminishes 10 pounds on the day of weigh-ins. The good-looking former boxer will walk around at 155 pounds, but fight at 135 pounds. It’s not the worst of weight loss—former welterweight (who can weigh no more than 171 pounds on weigh-in day) champion Johny Hendricks walks around at upwards of 200 pounds—but for someone with such a low body fat proportion already, it can be really terrifying.
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“In case I have someone who's fighting at 125 pounds and they come to me and say, 'Hey George, I'm at 145 right now,' we would have some big issues,” Lockhart says. “You are losing about 10 or 20 percent of their body weight and that’s extreme.” A significantly drastic weight loss achieved in short-term can hurt one’s performance in fights, or even worse—they may even end up being separated from their senses. According to figures provided by the Association of Ringside Physicians, 39 percent of MMA fighters enter competition in a dehydrated state. They have to reconsider the long-term effects, which are mostly costly. Brain, kidney and vision issues are side effects of accelerated weight loss, according to the same ARP figures. Lockhart, who has been involved in MMA for over 12 years, has visited lots of gyms, as well as the American’s reputable wrestling schools.
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“Weight loss procedures are so simple. I see that they haven’t evolved at all,” says Lockhart desperately. To cut excess fat, you are required to cut calories. "So it's like okay, we've got to feed him less. Math says that one pound of fat is 3,500 calories. If you plan to diminish 10 pounds, that's 35,000 fat calories you need to cut to make weight by say, Friday. In case you usually intake 7,000 calories a day and then you didn't take anything for the next five days, probably it's possible to cut those 10 extra pounds." If not, you'd have to try some of other more dangerous, performance-inhibiting measures such as sitting in a sauna. "The ideal weight that's being lost when you cut the weight massively and very quickly is through glycogen and water."Glycogen and water is what supplies your muscles with energy and minerals, hence why these quick cuts normally do more harm than good. No need to mention, Lockhart vehemently wishes for more researches to be carried on the importance of losing weight in a healthy way.