Wow. The response to my last post has been frankly overwhelming. Just when I thought I had no tears left, I found myself crying again and again while reading all your beautiful comments and emails. Seriously, thank you. I know everything will be okay soon and the thought that I have somehow touched other women in similar situations makes the pain I felt writing that post somewhat bearable.
Today I wanted to talk about how I lost so much weight for my competition, as I keep receiving a lot of questions about it.
Before I start, the below is NOT a weight loss method I endorse. It is purely for powerlifters/strong(wo)men who are looking to make weight for competition. The second you put a drop of water in your body or eat a carb, you will gain back all the weight. Most bodybuilders do something similar during their peak week, but it is not a permanent way to lose weight.
Water manipulation is very dangerous as it flushes all of the electrolytes out of your body. You will feel like your head is swimming for the first couple of days, and then feel like you’re dying of thirst. It is still, however, safer than sitting in a sauna or wearing a sweat-suit. The below methods are last-minute desperation tactics and you are better off losing weight the “normal” way where possible.
Also keep in mind that I am not an expert at weight cutting by any means. I put the below into practice after reading a bunch of articles from powerlifters and strongmen, and I am largely writing this post so I have it for personal future reference. Without further ado, this is how I went from 76.5kg on Monday morning (naked) to 72.7kg on Saturday morning (clothed).
Monday – Wednesday: 8.5-9 litres of water, including two serves of powder-based electrolytes per day. Ideally, I would have started this on Sunday but I was rock-climbing and didn’t to be running to the loo every 15 minutes. I also had a few coconut waters to add some extra calories.
Thursday: I started cutting water, back to 4.5 litres for the day. That still sounds like a lot but, when you are used to having double that, you already start feeling thirsty.
Friday: Only 2 litres for the entire day, and nothing after 5pm until weigh in the following morning at 8am. I found brushing my teeth helped in keeping thirst away.
I drank herbal tea and one black coffee a day. I didn’t have any sugar or sweetener in my coffee to avoid water retention.
The science behind the water loading is that your body gets used to flushing itself out. You pee every 20-30 minutes (and have to get up about six times a night!). Even when you start cutting water, your body continues to expel it at the same rate. This means that you flush out any extra water sitting in your system.
Carbs and calories:
My last non-green vegetable carb was Sunday evening. I consumed 20-30 grams of carbs per day from Monday to Friday. As I was limiting carbs, I obviously avoided grains but I also cut out dairy as both of these food groups encourage the body to retain water.
I averaged 1000 calories a day. This was lower than what I was aiming for (more like 1400) but I had absolutely no appetite due to the events concurrently happening in my life. In a way, it was kind of a good thing that shit hit the fan like it did, or else I would have been gnawing my own arm off.
My daily intake looked something like this:
Breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 egg whites (boiled)
Lunch: 150g chicken, 100g asparagus, 1/2 TB olive oil, sometimes 1 TB peanut butter
Dinner: 180g white fish, 100g asparagus, 1/2 TB olive oil
Monday to Wednesday, I loaded up on sodium (about 3000mg a day) by adding salt and soy sauce to everything I ate. Granted, I wasn’t eating that much but it adds up quickly.
On Thursday, I cut sodium completely (apart from the eggs, which had about 500mg) and ate everything dry and unseasoned. Again, I really had no appetite so didn’t care what my food tasted like.
From Sunday, I took Fybogel (a fibre supplement) twice a day and Senokot (a natural laxative) once a day. I didn’t want to be backed up while trying to make weight, and my overall fibre was very low anyway. I barely noticed a difference in my digestion, to be honest, and I was thankful there were no accidents during the competition ha!
In the week before a competition, I usually do three light workouts running through pressing, farmers and a light loading medley. I had absolutely no energy or time to do more than one. I also did seven minutes of sprints at 70% effort on Monday. Many people do fasted cardio every morning to help with weight cutting, but I wasn’t that desperate.
Wednesday morning I was 75.0kg, Thursday I was 74.7kg, and Friday I was 74.0kg. I was tempted to eat a carb or something Friday night, but I held off in case it back-fired.
I weighed in on Saturday morning at a scrawny 72.7kg. I felt skinny and yet bloated at the same time.
After I ate and drank, I weighed 75.5kg. Sunday morning I was back to 76kg. See – temporary!
Immediately after weighing in, I had 750ml of water with electrolytes followed by a whey protein shake. I then ate a bagel with one egg and one piece of bacon (you want to eat something salty and carby asap). We then drove to have breakfast, where I had two eggs on toast and a coffee.
I then had another 750ml of water with electrolytes. I waited about 45 minutes and then had a small portion of granola and yoghurt. All this was by 9.30am, with the comp due to start at 11am.
I felt fine but stopped eating as I didn’t want to overdo it. I probably did anyway, as the second I started warming up I felt nauseous. You have to be very careful not to eat and drink too much too quickly, as your stomach will have shrunk.
After the first event at about 12.30pm, I had a second bagel and tried to sip more water.
Usually, I am stuffing myself silly at competitions but I couldn’t this time. I only packed half as much pasta as I normally do and, even then, I only ate a third of it. I had one chocolate bar before the farmers walks and a banana when I was completely finished, but given I was competing for seven hours it really wasn’t a lot at all.
I did make it through a further 1.5 litres of water, two coconut waters and an iced coffee. I was more focused on completely rehydrating myself rather than forcing down food.
The competition finished at 6pm and I didn’t eat until 10pm. I wasn’t even hungry at all but I knew I would feel it the next day if I didn’t eat. I had a medium bowl of pasta and some Ben and Jerry’s and my stomach turned into a rock. When you try to introduce junk food after two weeks of completely clean eating, it will mess up your insides!
I didn’t eat again until 2pm the next day, when I was taken out for a burger, after which I didn’t eat again until the following day. My appetite has not been right since but again I think it is more a result of the other events going on in my life rather than the weight cutting process itself.
So that is how I lost almost a kilo a day. To be honest, I’m sure I would have lost heaps of weight without going through the whole water manipulation experience considering I wasn’t eating anyway. As Rob suggested, I should write a book called “Fuck up your life, and lose 5kg!” Don’t try this at home, kids.
Have you ever had to cut weight quickly?