Cutting Weight: Benefits, Risks, and Best Practices
Cutting weight isn't something you need to concern yourself with if you're looking for a long-term weight management solution. But to get a temporary edge on your physique or to meet the weight requirement for an athletic competition, slashing excess water weight can be a quick way to temporarily drop a few pounds.
There are dangers and health risks with cutting weight. So, of course, cutting weight should only be done in moderation, with substantial breaks in between. By testing out the tried and true methods for cutting weight, you can safely find the most comfortable and effective method for you.
What Is Weight Cutting?
Cutting weight, also called weight cutting, is temporary weight loss by sweating out and urinating excess water. For a short span of time, it gives your physique an extra sleek look by ridding the layer of water retained between your skin and muscles. There are several methods for cutting weight, and it's best to do a few methods in combination.
Why Cut Weight?
Of course, cutting weight does not actually reduce the accumulation of fat in your body. However, when timed right, weight cutting gives you a window of time to look your best for a photo or special event.
For example, celebrities and actors will sometimes cut weight for important roles or photoshoots to look their best. Likewise, athletes who need to meet weight requirements to compete for events will often cut weight leading up to their weigh-in day.
How to Cut Weight
The best way to cut weight is to make changes in your water intake and do activities that promote sweating. There are also supplements you can take to assist your body in expelling excess water safely.
1. Manipulate Your Water Intake
When you drink more water, it gets your body in the mode of getting rid of more water. Drink three to five gallons of water a day in the three to five days leading up to the day you want to cut weight. In the 12 hours leading up to your event, reduce your water intake to the minimum amount you need to stay hydrated.
2. Reduce Sodium and Carbohydrates
Try to avoid adding salt to your food or eating salty snacks, as salt makes your body retain water. You don't want to cut your sodium intake too drastically since it would throw your electrolyte levels out of balance, but you want to reduce the amount you typically consume.
3. Natural Supplements
Certain nutrients play a role in preventing excessive water retention. Supplementing with these natural agents can help you cut water weight and prevent fluid retention.
Potassium is the electrolyte that balances sodium's ability to retain water. Taking a potassium supplement can act as a mild diuretic, stimulating your kidneys to produce urine, recruiting excess fluids in your body to do so. As you lose water weight through sweat, you also lose potassium. Therefore, supplementing with potassium can help prevent deficiency and protect kidney health. You can also try to eat more potassium-rich foods like bananas and avocados, which tend to be also low in sodium.
For a great electrolyte and rehydration supplement, check out MTS Nutrition Naturalyte.
Enzymes and Probiotics
Water retention occurs throughout the body but is most pronounced when you wake up with puffy eyes, swollen ankles and feet, and bloating around your midsection. Sweating out excess water isn't the only solution. Digestive enzymes such as Bromelain, which is found in pineapple, cut excess water and help prevent fluid retention.
Enzyme supplements are often combined with probiotics, both of which can reduce gut inflammation. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that have been shown to reduce bloating and promote bowel movements.
For a great probiotic and digestive enzyme formula, check out MTS Nutrition Machine Uptake.
Omega-3 Fish Oil
Fish oil is the best source of EPA and DHA: long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that play multiple protective roles in your body, including anti-inflammatory benefits. Why does inflammation matter? When the walls of the gut are inflamed, they retain fluid and cause bloating.
Fish oil has been shown in studies to significantly lower inflammation by reducing the expression of inflammatory genes and by activating anti-inflammatory receptors on cells. Therefore, supplementing with it daily can potentially improve your workout recovery times and prevent bloating.
A great source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids is MTS Nutrition Fish Oil.
Using a sauna lets you sweat out excess water weight in 15 to 20-minute intervals. The heat increases your heart rate and boosts blood supply to your skin, where toxins and retained fluids get released through your perspiration. Drink water before, during, and after your sauna. This not only prevents dehydration but also signals to your body not to retain water.
5. Low-Impact Exercise
Intense cardio exercise raises cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone that can throw your other key hormones out of balance while depleting electrolyte levels. So when cutting weight, you want to focus on strength training and avoid cardio unless you're doing a low-impact activity.
The goal is to maximize sweating and maintain your muscle mass without over-exerting yourself. One thing you can do is wear a hoodie and sweatpants to promote sweating while you work out. Also, like with the sauna, it's important to continually drink water so that your body doesn't switch gears into retaining water.
Must-Know Safety Tips and Warnings
Stress increases inflammation and cortisol levels, which are two factors that increase water retention. You won't benefit from cutting weight if it's stressing you out. Listen to your body whenever you're cutting weight. Overdoing it can stress your kidneys and cause dehydration at levels that shock your organs. It's also counter-productive because you can lose muscle mass in the process of cutting weight when you take it too far.
Are Water-Loss Agents Safe?
Water loss agents are often natural herbs taken as supplements to help with weight cutting. Dandelion, parsley, hawthorn, and juniper are some examples of natural diuretics. Diuretics work by stimulating your kidneys to produce more urine. Diuretics recruit nutrients from the body, making them a trade-off. While herbs are natural, they're typically only safe when taken in limited quantities. Cutting back on salt in your diet may be an equally effective but gentler way to combat fluid retention.
Never Replace Cutting Weight with Cutting Fat
Cutting fat will always be the best way to get lean for the long haul, and you can't expect to see significant long-term changes in your appearance from cutting water weight alone. Cutting weight is something to plan for in coordination with an event, so make sure you're not doing it as a replacement for burning off excess fat.
Methods for Weight Cutting
While there are different methods for weight cutting, a holistic approach is the most balanced. Don't just focus on sweating out water weight or just on taking supplements while avoiding salt. The foundation of cutting weight is to drink more water than normal in the 3 to 5 days leading up to an event while simultaneously sweating out as much water as you comfortably can. Taking supplements (such as MTS Nutrition Aqua Shed) that prevent water retention daily also proves helpful.