According to new research from Edith Cowan University (ECU), the health of MMA fighters will be in danger if they reduce about 10kg of body weight before competing. And instead of bringing advantages, this could hinder their performance on the ring.
Sudden weight loss before a match is common in sports so athletes can play in the desired weight classes. And this is becoming more and more popular at MMA.
Edith Cowan University’s Doctor of Health and Health Sciences, Oliver Barley interviewed 637 athletes in sports including MMA, Boxing, wrestling, Brazil Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Muay Thai/Kickboxing, and Taekwondo about their weight loss techniques.
He found that compared to other fighting sports, MMA fighters average more weight loss before competing. “We found that MMA fighters lost an average of 9.8kg before each game. This figure is 5.3kg for Boxing, 4.2kg for Brazil Jiu-Jitsu and 3.8kg for Judo”, he said. This is equivalent to MMA fighters losing an average of 11.5% of their body weight before a match, compared with an average of about 6% of other sports.
These risk-taking methods are riskier
Barley said the results also show that MMA fighters often use the most dangerous and potentially dangerous methods of weight loss. We found that 76% of MMA fighters used the sauna and restricted the intake of liquid, while 63% used rubber or plastic clothes as a weight-loss method”, said Mr. Barley.
“By wearing a rubber or plastic in the sauna, you can lose 5% of your body weight in just two hours by losing sweat. Losing a lot of sweat for such a short time will cause you to become severely dehydrated, which can have long-term health effects and, in the worst cases, can lead to death”. Current research In pointing out that it is possible that high-level weight loss can lead to some health complications including cardiovascular problems, increased insulin sensitivity and increased risk of brain damage during competition.
Barley also played MMA, so he shared that the reason for losing weight was simple. “Nobody wants to participate in a match with a bigger person than me. Therefore, boxers are encouraged to try to cut down a lower weight”, he said.
How to reduce risk
Barley said it is difficult to set rules to limit weight loss. “We don’t have a reliable enough test to measure someone’s level of dehydration, so there is a lack of a method to accurately measure how much weight someone has lost before a match. I think the solution is to educate the boxers about the dangers of negative weight loss”. In fact, previous research conducted by Mr. Barley has shown that weight loss significantly reduces the endurance of athletes.
“We found that even 24 hours after reducing a small amount of weight, only about 5% of body weight leads to reduced stamina. In addition, we found that athletes did not regain all the lost weight after 24 hours. This is combined with some signs that athletes can still lose water due to weight loss”, he said.
Therefore, excessive weight loss can not only harm an athlete’s health but may even prevent them from entering the game floor.