If you’re over 30, you probably have some great memories of high school sports - working out to AC/DC, Soundgarden, Metallica, Biggie, Nas, or maybe the White Stripes (remember when “Fell in Love with a Girl” came out!?). Your recovery consisted of ham and cheese sandwiches, chips, maybe a solid yogurt cup here and there, and that sweet, sweet 8 oz. carton of chocolate milk at lunch. Whatever sport you played, if you were lucky enough to have someone get you in the weight room, the most complicated training program was Day 1: Back and Bize, Day 2: Chest and Trize, Day 3: Legs. Boom. There ya go! If you were concussed in a game or practice, you were encouraged to walk it off. Ya alright? And if you were like me and wrestled, or competed in any weight class sport, you lost weight….poorly.
I played football as a fullback and linebacker (also the placekicker, but who’s counting?) at around 215 lbs. I had a psychopath for a wrestling coach who believed everyone should lose 30% of their body weight to compete at the “optimal” weight. I cut to 171 lbs, and felt like complete shite. I was reminded of this the other day when one of my BJJ students came in trying to crack the varsity wrestling lineup as a sophomore and was losing about 7 lbs at a much lower weight class than I had competed at. He was a mess, physically and emotionally. It took me back.
My family hated me during the holidays when I was cutting weight. I was depressed and competed like the fatigued, dehydrated teenager I was. Good coaching could have gone a long way, and nutrition could have gone even further, but proper hydration through a weight cut is one of the simplest ways to feel a little bit better if weight loss is required in your sport.
Because electrolytes are balanced by your body based on factors like total body mass, hydration levels, and availability of electrolyte in the diet, weight loss is certain to impact electrolyte balance in your body.
Electrolytes are responsible for regulating cellular health in a number of ways:
- Sodium helps with fluid balance and muscle contraction.
- Potassium helps with blood pressure and the beating of your heart.
- Magnesium helps with muscle contraction, heart function, and even anxiety.
- All electrolytes help with hormone regulation and cellular energy.
Athletes who are consistently cutting weight will need to establish a solid baseline weight to allow the body to regulate to the new body mass. Then, after each weigh-in, consume electrolytes like Elixir in order to balance the sodium/potassium/magnesium levels in the body. Athletes cutting for one weigh-in should approach the reduction in body mass of a long, gradual period so the body adjusts. Again, with the final cut often requiring some level of dehydration, rehydrating with water and electrolytes is critical.
In a 2013 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning research, 24 study participants had their hydration tested during a 24-hour period of calorie restriction. Three different drinks were administered: a placebo that was just flavored water, a beverage with sodium chloride, and a beverage with potassium chloride. Here were the results:
- The salt drink was the best at retaining fluid.
- The potassium drink was better at retaining fluid than the placebo.
- Both benefitted accelerating the absorption of fluids after a weight cut, and it stands to reason that both replaced and balanced electrolyte levels in the body.
How does electrolyte supplementation affect performance after weigh-ins? A recent study conducted at Korea National Sport University found, “that the intake of electrolyte water is more effective than the intake of regular water in preventing a decrease in body weight and serum electrolytes. Moreover, it is more effective in improving exercise ability and recovery ability.”
So, if you’re looking to increase your exercise capacity and ability to retain water after a weight cut and a weigh-in, mix up some Elixir and feel the magic of trace minerals replenishing your body. And for goodness sake, don’t listen to bad coaches!