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Open AccessArticle

Prevalence, Magnitude and Methods of Rapid Weight Loss Reported by Male Mixed Martial Arts Athletes in Ireland

by John Connor 1 and Brendan Egan 1,2,*
1
School of Health and Human Performance, Dublin City University, Dublin D09 V209, Ireland
2
National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology, Dublin City University, Dublin D09 V209, Ireland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sports 2019, 7(9), 206; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports7090206
Received: 28 June 2019 / Revised: 31 July 2019 / Accepted: 3 September 2019 / Published: 9 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tackling Performance Challenges in Martial Arts and Combat Sports)
Rapid weight loss (RWL) is frequently practiced in weight category sports, including Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). The aim of the present study was to describe self-reported methods of RWL in a sample of competitive MMA athletes comprising of both amateur and professional fighters. The previously-validated Rapid Weight Loss Questionnaire, with the addition of questions on water loading and hot salt baths, was completed anonymously online by athletes (n = 30; all male, n = 15/15 professional/amateur) from MMA clubs around Dublin, Ireland. All but one (97%) of the athletes surveyed lost weight in order to compete, with the average weight loss being 7.9% ± 3.1% of habitual body mass. The RWL score (mean ± SD) for this sample was 37.9 ± 9.6, and a tendency for higher [6.0 (95%CI; −1.1, 13.1) (p = 0.093; d = 0.64)] RWL scores for professional (40.8 ± 8.9) compared to amateur (34.8 ± 9.6) athletes was observed. Frequencies of “always” or “sometimes” were reported as 90% for water loading, 76% for hot salt baths and 55% for 24 h of fasting. Fellow fighters (41%) and coaches/mentors (38%) were “very influential” on RWL practices of these athletes, with doctors (67%), dietitians (41%), and physical trainers (37%) said to be “not influential”. RWL is highly prevalent in MMA across both amateur and professional athletes, and RWL scores are higher than other combat sports. Water loading and hot salt baths are amongst the most commonly used methods of RWL despite little research on these methods for body mass reduction or effects on performance in weight category sports. View Full-Text
Keywords: combat sports; dehydration; hot bath; weight category; weight-making; water loading combat sports; dehydration; hot bath; weight category; weight-making; water loading
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Connor, J.; Egan, B. Prevalence, Magnitude and Methods of Rapid Weight Loss Reported by Male Mixed Martial Arts Athletes in Ireland. Sports 2019, 7, 206.

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