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Weight categories are specified in combat sports, lifting, rowing and horseracing to create an even playing field. Athletes are weighed in the presence of an official before competition to ensure they have ‘made weight’ (achieved the weight criteria for their designated weight category). If body mass (BM) is even slightly higher than the category allows, the athlete is disqualified from competing. In some weight-category sports, being heavier than an opponent offers power and strength advantages. Hence, many athletes use acute weight-loss strategies to rapidly lose weight in the hours or days before competition. Sports dietitians can play a key role in helping athletes to maximise weight advantages with strategic but safe weight-making practices. This chapter summarises research regarding acute weight loss and provides strategies to guide safe and effective weight-making.


Table 8.1 summarises sports with weight divisions. Each sport has different procedures for governing competition weight. The timing of weigh-in influences the extent to which acute weight loss impacts performance. Some sports allow good opportunity to restore hydration and fuel stores after weigh-in whereas other sports allow limited time for recovery. The physiological requirements of each sport also affect the extent to which rapid weight loss will affect performance. For example, lightweight rowing is more likely to be impacted by fluid and carbohydrate (CHO) deficits than weightlifting. Hence, different weight-loss methods might be prioritised.

TABLE 8.1Summary of sports-specific issues when making weight

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