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Performance Effects & Recovery

How Rapid Weight Cutting Affects Performance

Recovery After Weigh-Ins

There usually is a recovery period between weigh-in and competition. It may be 2-12 hours, as some athletes weigh-in the same day as they compete, or longer as weigh-ins can be the day before competition.

During this time, an athlete should replenish in carbohydrates, electrolytes, and total body fluids.

Longer Recovery Periods

  • “Combat sport athletes should aim to restore fluid losses to within ~2% of “pre-hypohydration” BM [body mass] in order to minimize negative performance effects (Burke & Deakin, 2009; Walsh et al., 1994).”

  • Consuming energy dense foods and fluids that are low in fat and fiber are important after weigh ins. Some examples include peanut butter, eggs, avocados, etc.

  •  5-10 g/kg (of body weight) per day of carbohydrates is recommended for weight loss recovery as carbohydrate consumption replenishes lost glycogen and body mass.

    • Athletes should replenish within an approximate 5 hour span to avoid GI distress, which may affect performance.

Shorter Recovery Periods

  • If an athlete cuts weight through means of sweating, replenishing not only fluids but also electrolytes are important. Replenishment of these electrolytes will promote restoration of plasma osmolality and volume. High sodium sports drinks to prioritize rehydration are recommended, alongside salty snacks to increase fluid retention.

  • If an athlete has a limited recovery time and/or wants to avoid GI distress, consuming carbohydrate-rich drinks may be better suited in comparison to solid foods.

  • "Adding protein to recovery meals/snacks may increase glycogen storage when carbohydrate intake is sub-optimal"(Ivy et al., 2002; Burke et al., 2017).

What Else Can I Eat Post-Weight Ins:

Energy Density and the Food Pyramid

Barley, O. R., Chapman, D. W., & Abbiss, C. R. (2019, May 21). The current state of weight-cutting in combat sports-weight-cutting in combat sports.

Sports (Basel, Switzerland). Retrieved November 20, 2022, from

Franchini, E., Brito, C. J., & Artioli, G. G. (2012, December 13). Weight loss in combat sports: Physiological, psychological and performance effects. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Retrieved November 20, 2022, from

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2022, March 22). Weight loss: Feel full on fewer calories. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 9, 2022, from,a%20specific%20amount%20of%20food.

Reale, R. (2018, August). Acute weight management in combat sports: Pre weigh-in weight loss, post weigh-in recovery and Competition Nutrition Strategies. Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Retrieved November 20, 2022, from

Santos Do Nascimento, M. V., Reinaldo, J. M., Brito, C. J., & Mentes-Netto, R. S. (2020). Weight cutting is widespread among adolescent judoka regardless of experience level: the need of weight control and educational programs. Journal of Physical Education and Sport, 2020(01).


Increased Head Injury Risk

Dehydration can alter the brain’s structure and thus leads to an increased risk of a brain injury from the subsequent head trauma seen in combat sports. 

Heat Illnesses

Thermal exposure from saunas and practicing in heated rooms leads to an increased risk for heat related illnesses such as heat stroke.

Stress Fractures

Younger athletes, especially, are at risk of lower bone mineralization, meaning bones break down faster than they can reform, which can lead to stress fractures.

Reduced Strength & Endurance

This is attributed to dehydration, decreased plasma volume (which increases cardiac effort), increased heart rate, muscle glycogen (metabolic fuel for your muscles) depletion.

Mental Stress

  • Short term memory, concentration, self-esteem, and mood can be affected:

    • This can be hard to follow a coach’s instructions, affect decision making, and the rage can lead to an increase of illegal actions

  • Rapid weight cutting methods can lead to confusion, fatigue, anger, depression, isolation.

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