Does weight cutting stunt your growth?
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Cutting weight for combat sports is one of the most prominent things that we are asked about and it's no surprise why. Cutting weight can be an extremely dangerous process if not done correctly. One of the questions we often get asked is, does weight cutting stunt your growth?
Studies have shown that restricting calories to loose weight can lead to stunted growth. We recommend that anyone under the age of 18 avoids cutting as much weight as possible to help prevent stunted growth. Anyone below the age of 16 should simply fight at their walk around weight to prevent complications later in life.
There are also other factors to combat sports which may lead to stunted growth, however if a healthy, nutritious diet is followed, combat sports can have many physical, mental, and emotional health benefits.
Can weight loss stunt your growth?
A poor diet can lead to stunted growth. Nutrition contributes to healthy growth and development, it is inevitable that poor nutrition can, in fact, stunt your growth. It is important that children who are yet to have finished growing are not forced to loose weight.
To ensure to proper growth and development, our bodies need the correct nutrients and minerals. Without these, our bodies are unable to develop fully and this can lead to stunted growth. Most teenage boys will need about 2,000 to 3,200 calories per day, while girls will require about 1,600 to 2,400 a day.
There are ways in which you can loose weight and improve your diet by ensuring that you eat healthy foods and avoid processed meals. If you are someone that is looking to loose weight and not stunt your growth then we recommend you eat a healthy and balanced diet. Try avoiding high-glycemic meals and processed food.
Is cutting weight unhealthy?
If done incorrectly, cutting weight can be extremely unhealthy and lead to several health complications. In some cases, weight cutting has even lead to death.
They key to safely cutting weight for combat sports is to ensure that you put together a long-term plan where you gradually reduce your bodies weight, loosing fat and not dehydrating your body. In your fight week, you don't want to cut any more than 8-10% of your body weight. To ensure your safety we recommend sticking to at most 8% of your body weight.
Why do fighters cut weight?
The main reason that fighters cut weight is in order to gain a size and strength advantage over their opponents. By cutting weight, fighters aim to quickly recover their weight after weighing and thus making them larger than their opponents when they enter the ring.
How do you cut weight for a fight?
Cutting Weight for Muay Thai is a crucial part of your fight camp, and is something that needs to be taken seriously as doing it wrong can result in serious health complications. Throughout your 6 - 8 week fight camp you'll want to be eating in a calorie deficit to ensure that your slowly loosing wight. On fight week, you'll want to start your actual weight cut.
In your fight week, you don't want to cut any more than 8-10% of your body weight. To ensure your safety we recommend sticking to at most 8% of your body weight.
How to cut weight safely
Most fighters will go through a 5-day process where they increase their water intake at the start and then slowly reduce their water intake as the days process. This is called water loading.
You will want to restrict carbohydrates to 30-50g per day during your weight cut. This will allow your body to deplete your glycogen stores from your body, which not only weigh themselves, but also help to hold water in your body which is your primary source of weight loss during fight week.
Recommended fight week foods
The main thing to think about when deciding your meals for fight week is that you want foods which are low in carbs and high in fats and protein. At this point, our main goal is to withdraw water from the body, not to loose weight via fat loss as we'll have already done this throughout our camp.
Avoid adding any salt to your foods, or purchasing foods which are already pre-seasoned with salt as you want to be eating zero salt during your fight week diet.
Eggs: Eggs are a great food to eat during fight week, they are carb free and full of protein, fat and they are extremely filling.
Turkey: High in protein and low in fat, turkey is a great food to eat during fight week
Steak: Steak is another great high-protein option to eat during fight week that is carb free.
Avacado: If your an avacado lover then it can be a great choice for your fight week meals. It's packed with healthy fats and it's low in carbs. I'd keep your serving sizes low though as it does contain fibre.
Cutting weight and drastic weight loss can lead to several health complications and stunted growth. If you are under the age of 18 and your looking to cut weight for a combat sports then we recommend not too. If you do plan to loose weight then take a long-term approach using a healthy, nutritional balanced diet to help you do so.