Alright so here we go. The past few weekends I’ve been approached a few times by some of my own rowers on how to cut weight for lightweight racing. I’m sure many of you have been told many different things as I know I was told many things in my youth about rowing and throughout college. I feel that there is a huge issue here in that most of the ways I’ve ever heard about cutting weight have been completely unhealthy, oftentimes having very serious health risks. That being said, I will be outlining a proper way to cut weight (up to 10 lbs) for race day. Although this still isn’t ideal and I do not encourage people to sit above the weight limit too much this is at the least a much healthier way then running around with a garbage bag on or starving yourself.
Step 1: 7-10 days before a race, up your water intake to 2 gallons of water a day. The concept behind this is that your water metabolism will increase significantly. Your body will start to process water at a much higher rate if you are drinking more.
Step 2: 7-10 days before the race switch to a very low carb diet. By low carb I mean less then 30g of carbs a day. That means you will need to read labels on the back of foods and most likely limit you’re dining out. The reasoning behind this is that your body will use up the glycogen stored in your muscles. If you are staying low carb, then your body will be unable to resupply the glycogen in any large amounts. You will most likely enter into a ketogenic state in which case your body uses body-fat and dietary-fat to produce glycogen. This will just continue to add to the weight loss. Keep in mind for rowers this is going to be slightly miserable. As a rower your body is in a constant need for glycogen to produce those low splits. Your energy levels will be lower the first week…..don’t worry it gets better.
Step 3: Day before the race. Drink water and all liquids sparingly. By sparingly I mean maybe 32 oz water all day. Yes this is not easy, yes it is not ideal but for those who need to make the weight chances are you’ve already realized this and at least its better then what you’ve probably been doing.
Step 4: Race day. No liquid, light food (nothing with carbs) until weigh in. Chances are you will be feeling kind of miserable but you will have also lost a good bit of weight. If you still aren’t race weight then you may need to do your typical 30 minute sweat run (as I said this is not healthy and hopefully you won’t have to do).
Step 5: Post-Weigh in. Go get some carbs in you. Your body will upload these beyond your normal levels due to the low carb stasis you have been in. You’ll feel great have tons of energy and have a great race. Get some Gatorade/water in you as well.
Hope this helps. Next article will include some dietary guidelines for rowers, coaches, and anyone who wants to look good on the beach.