The Simple Art of Cutting Weight: How to Make Weight for a Competitive Meet Without Cardio, Extra Sweating, or Spitting in a Cup
One of the most common questions I see on fitness blogs and forums is the question, “What is the best way to cut weight for a meet?” I have also found that there are very few resources out there from a female perspective, which is important because let’s be honest, women frequently find it more difficult to cut large amounts of weight, at all, let alone in small increments of time. Additionally, most weight cutting guides are for 24 hour weigh-ins. I compete in the USAPL which has a 2 hour weigh-in period. It can be much trickier cutting for a 2 hour window than a 24 hour window, as you do not have as much time to recover, re-hydrate, and refuel.
Using the method below, I went from 138lbs to 124lbs (a 14 pound difference on my 5’0” tall body) in a 5 weeks. That is quite a bit of weight for a person of my size and leanness level to lose at all, let alone in 840 hours. I also had the best meet performance I had had up until that point. My strength and endurance had not been hindered at all.
Before I get into the details, I want to say that this post is not intended for beginners. If this is your first meet, do not cut weight. It just adds too much stress and too many variables to the equation. You don’t want to bomb out of your first meet because you decided to cut weight and it did not go well for you. I am intending this for people who are cutting to be more competitive. I used this method to cut weight for USAPL Raw Nationals. I did not want to be in the 132lbs class because I would not even be close to be competitive with the other women in the class.
Additionally, this is method is not intended to be a weight loss program. I intentionally gained back 10 of the 14 lbs I lost after my meet. You will gain most of the weight back unless you continuing crash dieting. I do not recommend this – at all. I felt pretty destroyed for the next few weeks after the meet, to be honest. Cutting this much weight this quickly was hard on my body.
And to be safe: Trigger Warning – From this point on I talk about dieting tactics.
Also, sidenote: I will not touch on tapering workouts or how to choose your lift attempts. If you are curious, let me know. That is something I can provide.
Step One (5 Weeks Out): Get a Motherfucking Haircut
You might think I am a bit weird for writing this, but I am dead serious. And if you are serious about being competitive, you will want to remove any extra weight from your body before you starting dieting down. You don’t want to have to diet down extra to make up for weight you could have lost by chopping off your split ends. You also don’t want to miss your intended weight class by mere ounces and have to resort to spitting in a cup (because this is really unpleasant). So, I am serious. Get your hair cut. Now, you don’t have to be as drastic as I was (shoulder length and thick to long pixie/inverted bob thing), but I lost three effing pounds. 3 pounds makes a HUGE difference when you are dieting down.
Additionally, at this point, you will want to start paying attention to the food you eat (how many calories, specifically) if you don’t already track your food.
Step Two (4 Weeks Out): Start Eating Less Food, A Lot Less
It was at the four week out mark that I actually started dieting. And it was pretty hardcore dieting. I cut my caloric intake in nearly half. (As I stated before, this is not intended to be a long-term weight loss program and I never said it was healthy. This is purely to make weight. ) Every few days, I would refill my glycogen stores by eating a lot more (specifically carbs) so that my training was not negatively impacted. At four weeks out, I had already made most of the strength gains I had intended; at this point, I was working on maintaining my strength. This would result in only a caloric deficit of about 400 instead of 1000 kcals. How much you want to cut will determine how little you will want to eat. I will say that in the end, I lost about 3 from hair, 5 from water manipulation and 6 from dieting.
For me, what it took to eat 1000 calories less a day was simply to replace every piece of processed food or high carb item (like pasta) I would normally eat with piece of fruit. Depending on how strict you already are with your diet will determine what you do to create the caloric deficit, but I recommend cutting out all processed food items, bread, pasta, and rice. These are calorically dense and just won’t fill you up. I highly recommend sticking to veggies and lean meats. And, if that is what already constitutes a significant portion of your diet, I recommend making the portion sizes (specifically of the meat) smaller.
Step Three (2 Weeks Out): Start Water Loading
At the two week mark is when you will want to start your water manipulation cycle. It is at this point you will want to start carrying gallon water jugs with you. During this week, you will drink 1 gallon of water a day. It is at this point you will want to start supplementing vitamins and minerals if you aren’t already. The extra water flushing can deplete your vitamins and minerals. If you feel like you need it, you can drink low-cal electrolyte replacements as part of your water intake. I always drank other things on top of this (milk, juice, diet soda, etc).
Step Four (1 Week Out): Check your Diet and Increase Your Water
At this point, you will have already lost some weight from both the water and the dieting. You will want to check your diet and adjust up or down based on where you are standing. It is at this point that you will want to increase your water to 2 gallons a day. You can probably and safely bet on losing 3-4 lbs of water in the last 3 days if you are small (or really lean) like me and more if you are bigger. If you are inclined to gain water weight with carbs, it is about time to starting lowering those amounts even more.
Step Five (2 Days Out): Start Eating Light Foods
And by this, I mean calorically dense foods that don’t weigh a lot. Personally, I start eating mostly just meat and peanut butter at this point. At this point, you won’t lose a lot of weight (or any) from calories in the next two days) but you will be privy to any weight in your intestinal tract.
Step Six (1 Day Out): Eat Way Less and Drink Way Less
You will very much only want to stick to light, calorically dense foods for majority of the day. You might want to eat some fibrous veggies in the morning, so that you can guarantee a bowel movement.
Additionally, you will only drink ½ a gallon of water this day. Your body will still be expecting the 2 gallons and so it will still excrete as though you are still drinking as much liquid. You will want to relieve yourself as much as possible (both number one and number two).
Depending on what time your weigh-in is in the morning, you will want to have your last meal and finish your water about 14 hours before. Weigh-ins for me often start at 7.30AM, so I usually finish eating and drinking between 5 and 6 PM the night before. My last meal is usually a popart sandwich with peanut butter in the middle. Again, if you retain water in response to carbs, you might want to skip the poptarts and eat just the peanut butter instead.
Continue to relieve yourself as often as possible. At this point, It can begin to get difficult to keep “going.” I recommend placing a box in your bathroom to rest your feet on (creates a more comfortable and relaxed position for your bowels) and bringing something to do, like a long book. I also recommend the adult wipes for your hiney.
Step Seven (Meet Day): Weighing-in and Rehydrating
At this point, you will be very tired and thirsty and waiting for weigh-ins will feel like hell. You are almost there! You can do it!
Unless you haven’t had a bowel movement, I highly recommend skipping the morning cup of coffee until after you get your weight. You will keep dropping ounces all morning until you rehydrate. If you haven’t pooped, in say a day, depending on how close you are to your weight, consider drinking half a cup of black coffee. Just enough to get everything rolling.
To the meet with you, you will will want to bring several bottles of Pedialyte (ain’t nobody got time to mess around with some fucking Gatorade), water, caffeine, easy to digest carbs, a protein source, and a fat source. This is just what you will consume before you lift. So, you will also want to bring more to eat/drink later.
After you weigh in, the first thing you will want to do is re-hydrate. Start drinking the Pedialyte now. While you are thirsty, you will not want to chug it because barfing is the last thing you want to do at this moment. Instead, aim to drink the first bottle in 10-30 minutes, depending on how you are feeling. While drinking this bottle, eat your carb source. Once again, I am a big fan of poptarts. They are easy to digest and calorically dense.
Once you get the first bottle down, start working on your protein and fat sources ( I like turkey sandwiches and peanut butter), while sipping the rest of your liquids. I usually try to eat all of my food and drink two bottles of Pedialyte and my entire caffeine source in the first hour to give it another to digest before I have to lift (and so I am not quite as full). It will also give you some time for your bloat to go down. This is something that will definitely happen. Bloating is a real thing, so be ready to adjust your belt during warm-ups just in case you don’t recover all the way.
Step Eight: Life Your Heart Out!
You did it, you beast! Go lift some motherfucking weights!