Self-reported Methods of Weight Cutting in Professional Mixed-Martial Artists: How Much Are They Losing and Who Is Advising Them?

J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2019 Nov 12;16(1):52. doi: 10.1186/s12970-019-0320-9.


Background: Similar to other combat sports, mixed martial arts (MMA) includes divisional weight classes. The purpose of our research was to further investigate the amount of weight professional MMA fighters lost prior to weighing in for competition, their methods used to cut weight, and their sources of advice on how to cut weight.

Methods: This survey was administered to 92 male professional MMA athletes. The survey questions included duration of overall weight loss prior to competition, methods of weight-cutting, and their sources of advice regarding weight cutting.

Results: When comparing the number of methods of weight cutting with the source of advice, those who received their advice from social media used slightly more methods of weight cutting (M = 4.86, SD = 1.27) than those who did not (M = 4.02, SD = 1.55); t(90) = - 2.53, p < .05. MMA athletes that used the help of a registered dietitian nutritionist also reported using the least amount of methods for weight-cutting than any other category (M = 3.84, SD = 1.67). Those that used teammates and did not use a registered dietitian nutritionist used slightly more methods (M = 4.46, SD = 1.41) than those who used a registered dietitian nutritionist.

Conclusions: The findings of this study report that professional MMA athletes do undergo rapid weight loss through various methods to make weight for competition. This study adds evidence to the literature that most professional MMA athletes undergo RWL for competition without the guidance of a registered dietitian nutritionist. It is unclear what the effect of using a registered dietitian nutritionist may have on an MMA athletes' ability to reduce weight in a safe and effective manner. Future research should seek to investigate if employing a registered dietitian nutritionist may lead to a higher rate of success for MMA athletes to make weight, and help reduce adverse risks of RWL.

Keywords: Body mass; Competition; Hydration and dehydration; Nutrition; Rapid weight loss; Weigh-in; Weight class.

MeSH terms

  • Athletes*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Martial Arts*
  • Nutritionists
  • Self Report*
  • Social Media
  • Weight Loss*
  • Weight Reduction Programs / methods*