Hillier, Matthew, Sutton, Louise, James, Lewis, Mojtahedi, Dara, Keay, Nicola
& Hind, Karen
(2019). High Prevalence and Magnitude of Rapid Weight Loss in Mixed Martial Arts Athletes. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism 29
Author(s) from Durham
The practice of rapid weight loss in mixed martial arts (MMA) is an increasing concern but data remains scarce. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence, magnitude, methods and influencers of rapid weight loss in professional and amateur MMA athletes. MMA athletes (n=314; 287 men, 27 women) across nine weight categories (strawweight to heavyweight), completed a validated questionnaire adapted for this sport. Sex-specific data were analysed, and sub-group comparisons were made between athletes competing at professional and amateur levels. Most athletes purposefully reduced body weight for competition (men: 97.2%; women: 100%). The magnitude of rapid weight loss in one week prior to weigh-in was significantly greater for professional athletes compared to those competing at amateur level (men: 5.9% v 4.2%; women: 5.0% v 2.1% of body weight; p<0.05). In the 24 h preceding weigh-in, the magnitude of rapid weight loss was greater at professional than amateur level in men (3.7% v 2.5% of body weight; p<0.05. Most athletes 'always' or 'sometimes' used water loading (72.9%), restricting fluid intake (71.3%) and sweat suits (55.4%) for rapid weight loss. Coaches were cited as the primary source of influence on rapid weight loss practices (men: 29.3%, women: 48.1%). There is a high reported prevalence of rapid weight loss in MMA, at professional and amateur levels. Our findings, constituting the largest enquiry to date, call for urgent action from MMA organisations to safeguard the health and wellbeing of athletes competing in this sport.