Study Identifies Physical/Psychological Difficulties in Combat Sports Athletes From Rapid Extreme Weight Cuts

In the latest study digging into rapid extreme weight cut practices in combat sports along with their consequences findings were published noting both physical and psychological issues in high level athletes undergoing such cuts.

In the recent paper published in the Korean Society for Physical Medicine, titled “Rapid Weight Loss and Physical and Psychological Difficulties in National Combat Sports Athletes” the authors surveyed 127 combat sports athletes who trained in various disciplines in Korea’s National Training Center in 2019.

The study identified that rapid extreme weight cut practices were common for athletes to make competition weight.  It reveald that athletes routinely did not take advice from doctors or dieticians before engaging in these cuts rather they relied on advice from senior colleagues, coaches and the Internet for their advice.

The surveyed athletes revealed that they suffered a variety of both physical and psychological consequences from their weight cuts including energy depletion, dizziness, muscle spams, altered mood, concentration difficulties and anxiety issues.

The full abstract reads as follows:



The purpose of this study was to investigate the current state of rapid weight loss and physical and mental complaints among elite combat athletes who were selected and trained as national representatives.


A total of 127 combat athletes who had trained at the national training center in 2019 were enrolled. The questionnaire used as the survey tool was interpreted as words that Korean athletes could easily understand based on the Portuguese version of the ‘Rapid Weight Loss Questionnaire’ (RWLQ). χ2tests was performed to determine the differences in physical and mental changes according to sports and weight loss method. RESULTS: Combat athletes in Korea regularly undergo rapidly weight loss within a short period of time prior to competition. There were statistically similar results in terms of weight loss method, physical and mental changes and information about weight loss according to the sport. Weight loss methods often limit food and water intake and dehydrate. The physical complaints associated with them are symptoms such as “no energy”, “dizziness”, and “muscle spasms”. The mental complaints include “irritability”, “concentration loss” and “anxiety”. These symptoms can be caused by side effects such as food intake limitation, water restriction and dehydration. Information sources for weight loss were in the order of “senior or colleagues”, “supervisor or coach”, and “Internet”. No information was obtained from a doctor or dietitian.


These results provide a baseline for predicting proper weight loss in athletes and provide useful information for developing performance enhancement as well as weight loss.



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