Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is renowned as a highly regulated combat sport. Its fighters are continuously tested to prevent them from intaking performance-enhancing drugs, such as steroids. Hence, it’s almost impossible to cheat in the said competition.
However, despite its strict regulations and standards, the fighters’ extreme weight cutting has always been an issue in UFC. Their ways of reducing weight involve a grueling process, which either gives them advantages over their competitors or makes them suffer from their adverse side effects.
Here’s everything you need to know about how UFC Fighters cut their weight fast.
Manipulate Body Hydration
A study reported that 39 percent of MMA fighters opt for going about their day without drinking water to lose weight fast. The thing is, relentless dehydration can either go well or end up wrong.
The key to dropping weight quickly and “safely” is strategically manipulating water. For example, here’s how much water UFC fighters are recommended to consume in the five days leading up to their weigh-in:
- 1st day – 2 gallons
- 2nd day – 1 gallon
- 3rd day – 1 gallon
- 4th day – .5 gallons
- 5th day – .25 gallons
- Weigh-in Day – No water until after weigh-in
As shown, the amount of water gradually decreases, starting with two gallons to hardly any water in the last two days before the weigh-ins happen. This process is called “flushing mode.” When UFC fighters take tons of water early on, their body down-regulates aldosterone, a steroid hormone that conserves sodium and secretes potassium.
Then, if they suddenly cut back their water consumption in the middle and end of the week, their bodies will still be in flushing mode. In other words, they’ll hit the toilet to pee a lot despite hardly drinking any water. Since they excrete more fluid than they take in, they’ll undergo rapid weight loss.
Maintain A Calorie Deficit
Along with water intake manipulation, UFC fighters must get a balanced, nutritious diet. While many tend to undergo a starvation regime, others properly intake sufficient macro and micronutrients to get peak performance and health and weight regulation. In addition, they rely on top rated fat burners for men to maximize losing weight safely.
Nonetheless, their carb intake must be low, around 50 grams daily. A gram of any carbohydrate usually pulls 2.7 grams of water into the body, which is the counter-effect of dehydration. Thus, lowering or avoiding carb consumption at all costs is crucial. Not only does it help in weight-cutting, but it also keeps UFC fighters’ bodies in flush mode.
Keeping carb intake to a minimum also depletes muscle glycogen, the source of metabolic fuel for our muscles. On average, you’re likely to lose half a kilogram or over 1 pound if your glycogen levels drop.
Alternatively, UFC fighters usually load up on high-quality protein to conserve energy. Instead of eating fruits, sugar, and starches that have high calories, they tend to eat meat, eggs, or plant-based protein sources, like lots of leafy and cruciferous vegetables.
Opt Out from Salt
The sodium in salt causes our bodies to retain and absorb more water than they would otherwise. That’s why dropping salt intake can help UFC fighters keep flushing water out. Ideally, UFC fighters stay on strict no-carbs and no-salt meal plans.
If UFC fighters still need to get down to the wire and still have to lose more water, they typically opt for diuretics. This is because they can help the body eliminate excess salt and water through urination. Hence, their side effects are usually increased urination and sodium loss, which are, at some point, beneficial to the rapid weight loss of UFC fighters.
Apart from excreting sodium and water, diuretics have many health benefits. First, they help the kidneys to release more sodium into the urine. Then, sodium helps remove water from the blood by decreasing the fluid flow through the veins and arteries, which, in turn, helps reduce blood pressure.
Many UFC fighters go for prescription diuretics that are in the form of pills and are commonly called water pills. Conversely, others opt for natural diuretics, such as black cumin, hibiscus, dandelion root, ginger, parsley, and caffeine.
UFC fighters sweat excessive liquid out through low-intensity drills. They avoid high-intensity workouts since they’re already on a low-carb diet, which means their energy is already depleted.
Instead, they do light bike riding or treadmill running. While doing so, they usually wear plastic tracksuits to drastically intensify their sweating. After working out, they take a hot bath to stimulate sweating even more.
Others also sit in a sauna. Some may even wear plastic jumpsuits or lay under 20 or 30 layers of thermal-insulating materials inside a sudatory to shed those last few pounds before weigh-ins.
Throughout the entire MMA history, extreme weight-cutting has resulted in two untimely deaths. Since then, UFC fighters have been taking weight cuts more seriously. They’re now seeking professional help from appropriate nutritional and fitness coaches for their weight loss journey before weighing in.