In boxing, weight matters. Whether you’re training for your first fight, or defending a title, you need to get your it spot on. In fact, bodyweight will matter if you just box for cardio!
Over the years, boxers have used some strange and downright dangerous techniques to make weight. Why do they do it? Obviously if you’re booked for a fight, sitting at the top of a weight category can put you at a real advantage over your competitor. But making weight the wrong way can leave you feeling weak – or worse.
No boxer enjoys the process of cutting weight. But it doesn’t have to be miserable or dangerous. There are plenty of ways to bring your weight down without losing your love for the sport.
In this article, we’ll quickly look at some best-practice ideas for cutting weight. Then we’ll delve deep into supplements for boxers who need to drop some weight.
Why Do Boxers Need To Cut Weight?
Lots of sports have weight categories, and boxing is one of the most famous examples. The reason is obvious: it’s not realistic (or fair) to pit a 110kg fighter against a 60kg opponent. Huge mismatches in body weight would be unsafe and unfair. Not to mention boring for spectators!
But very few boxers can stay at their fighting weight all year round. You can’t train well or gain strength if you’re constantly dieting. Most boxers will go over their fighting weight for a large portion of the year. During this time, they’ll focus on training with intensity, enjoying the extra energy, and making progress.
3 Rules For Cutting Weight
Are you new to boxing, preparing for your first fight, or just want to keep your bodyweight down so you can feel lighter and quicker? Then read our 3 simple, straightforward methods for cutting weight.
Later in this article we’ll look at the best supplements for making weight more quickly.
Rule 1: clean, natural, high volume foods
It might sound boring, but a decent diet really will help you stay close to your fighting weight. And it will make it easier to cut weight when you need to. Eating a healthy diet of mostly clean, natural foods should be part and parcel of being a boxer all year round. But this approach will really make it easier to make weight too.
What are the best food choices to control your bodyweight? Lean proteins, low GI carbs, and plenty of high volume low calorie foods. Think about increasing the nutrient density of meals without excess calories. This means food volume. Think salads, stir fries, smoothies, and low calorie protein choices (a good whey protein powder, low fat dairy, lean meats and fish). How can you get the most bang for your buck in terms of food volume, for minimal calories? Focus on nutrients first (vitamins, minerals, fibre) and pack out your plate with veggies, salad leaves, and lean protein.
Rule 2: give yourself time
Making weight for boxing is a balancing act. You want to feel energised and strong for as long as possible, without leaving it too late to make weight. Staying relatively lean and light all year round will help. But however heavy you get off-season, do not give yourself too much to do in a short time period. Trying to lose a stone in 2 weeks won’t end well for anyone.
Tailor your weight loss strategy to your timeframe. Some people will respond better to a longer, slower diet. Others will be able to cope with lower calories for a shorter amount of time. Learn how your body responds, and how you cope psychologically.
Rule 3: don’t mess with dehydration
Water manipulation is one of the most infamous (and ill-advised) methods of making weight for a fight. Want our advice? Don’t mess with it. Cutting water does things to your body that you can’t see from the outside. We’re talking about sodium, electrolyte balance, and the impact on your internal organs.
Give yourself enough time to diet, and you won’t need to make drastic changes to your water intake. Going into a fight dehydrated puts you on the back foot from the start. How can you expect to fight at your best if you are already dehydrated?
7 Supplements To Make Weight For Boxing
What are the best supplements for boxers who want a healthy, strong weight cut?
1 Diet protein powder
A good quality protein powder will be useful during your weight cut. Protein is the most filling macronutrient, and has the highest TEF (thermic effect of food). As you bring your calories down to lose weight, you’ll need to keep protein high. Get a good protein powder for plain protein shakes, or more filling ideas like protein smoothies (ice, xantham gum, and a scoop of protein powder can feel like a filling treat on a cutting diet!)
Keep on top of your hydration levels as you make weight for boxing. Dieting and training hard (especially in the heat) can easily lead to electrolyte imbalance through sweating. An optimal balance of electrolytes will keep you healthy and energised, giving you an extra edge in the ring. Important electrolytes for boxers include sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium. You could either take these separately or get a good electrolyte supplement. Some intra workout products will also have electrolytes within them.
3 Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a good extra for fighters. As you already know, it will support your immune system, helping you stay healthy at the sharp end of a diet. But it also has a mild, safe diuretic effect. We don’t recommend harsh use of unnatural diuretics. But a moderate dose of Vitamin C can be a useful way to safely manipulate water levels.
Caffeine has a number of uses for boxers making weight. It can be a mild diuretic. And it can give you a boost of energy and mental focus when your calories are low and you still need to train with intensity. Anhydrous caffeine has the best ergogenic effect.
Branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) are the basic and most fundamental building blocks of protein. If your diet is really stripped back, consider taking one or two servings of BCAAs during the day to ensure these key amino acids are still covered. In an ideal world, you’d get all your amino acids from food. But when you’re making weight, this might not be practical. BCAAs to the rescue.
6 Fat burners
Yes, fat burners really can help you make weight. How? They might not physically burn fat from your body, but they can certainly help you attack your training sessions with more intensity (and therefore expend more calories). Depending on the ingredients, they can also help you focus, minimise the urge to snack, and even help you feel fuller. Make sure your fat burner contains safe, natural ingredients approved by your boxing federation.
7 Fibre supplements
Fibre supplements like konjac, inulin, and psyllium husk are super low calorie, safe, and cost effective. They help you feel much fuller (invaluable when your calories get low!) and have a number of health benefits. Start with a low dose to assess your tolerance levels. Don’t forget to utilise natural fibre levels in vegetables, salads, and leafy greens too.
3 Weight Loss Methods To Avoid
Before you go, here are the three methods we would never recommend for making weight for a boxing fight.
Laxatives: any supplement which promises to rid your body of… ahem… “waste” is unsafe and ultimately ineffective. Your body has its own natural methods of getting rid of this kind of weight. Laxatives will only impact your wallet and your health.
Sweat suits: the last-ditch hallmark of a desperate fighter! Sweat suits (see also: saunas, Epsom baths) might help you drop weight quickly, but they will also leave you feeling light headed, weak, and unable to fight well. Do yourself a favour and don’t leave it so late that you ever have to resort to these methods.
Diuretics: diuretics strip your body of water too quickly, leaving your body in a deeply unbalanced state. Remember, your body likes equilibrium and will do everything in its power to rebalance itself. Using diuretics is likely to backfire.