In order to test the hypothesis that dietary restriction may have a negative influence on physiological and psychological adaptation to a judo competition, we examined the effects of weight loss induced by restricting energy and fluid intake on the physiology, psychology, and physical performance of judo athletes. Twenty male judoka were randomly assigned to one of two groups (Group A: called diet, n = 10; height 174.8 +/- 1.9 cm, body weight 75.9 +/- 3.1 kg; they were asked to lose approximately 5 % of their body weight through self-determined means during the week before the competition; Group B: called control, n = 10; height 176.4 +/- 1.1 cm, body weight 73.3 +/- 6.3 kg maintained their body weight during the week before the competition). A battery of tests was performed during a baseline period (T1), on the morning of a simulated competition (T2) and 10 min after the end of the competition (T3). The test battery included assessment for body composition, performance tests, evaluation of mood, determination of metabolic and hormonal responses. Dietary data were collected using a 7-day diet record. The nutrient analysis indicated that all the athletes followed a low carbohydrate diet whatever the period of the investigation. For the Group A, the food restriction (- 4 MJ per day) resulted in significant decreases of the body weight and altered the mood by increasing Fatigue, Tension and decreasing Vigour. Dietary restriction had also a significant influence on metabolic and endocrine parameters and was associated with poor performance. After the competition, significant decreases of the levels in testosterone, T/C ratio, alkali reserve, and free fatty acid were observed in both groups, whereas the plasma concentrations in insulin, ammonia, urea, and uric acid were increased. In conclusion, our results suggest that the combination of energy restriction and intense exercise training, which causes weight reduction before a competition, adversely affects the physiology and psychology of judo athletes and impairs physical performance before the competition. Our data are the first to demonstrate that a competition including five 5-min bouts induced the same changes of physiological and psychological variables and performance whatever the dietary intake (dietary restriction or not) during the seven days before the competition.