Professional boxing is a combat sport categorized into a series of weight classes. Given the sport’s underpinning culture, boxers’ typical approach to “making weight” is usually via severe acute and/or chronic energy restriction and dehydration. Such practices have implications for physical performance and also carry health risks. This article provides a case-study account outlining a more structured and gradual approach to helping a professional male boxer make weight for the 59-kg superfeatherweight division. Over a 12-week period, the client athlete adhered to a daily diet approximately equivalent to his resting metabolic rate (6–7 MJ; 40% carbohydrate, 38% protein, 22% fat). Average body-mass loss was 0.9 ± 0.4 kg/wk, equating to a total loss of 9.4 kg. This weight loss resulted in a decrease in percent body fat from 12.1% to 7.0%. In the 30 hr between weigh-in and competition, the client consumed a high-carbohydrate diet (12 g/kg body mass) supported by appropriate hydration strategies and subsequently entered the ring at a fighting weight of 63.2 kg. This nutritional strategy represented a major change in the client’s habitual weight-making practices and did not rely on any form of intended dehydration during the training period or before weighing in. The intervention demonstrates that a more gradual approach to making weight in professional boxing can be successfully achieved via a combination of restricted energy intake and increased energy expenditure, providing there is willingness on the part of the athlete and coaches involved to adopt novel practices.
The authors are with the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK.