U.S. researchers examined the physical and mental effects of “weight cutting” in 16 collegiate wrestlers. Ten days before competing, the wrestlers were weighed and underwent psychological and strength tests. They could then choose a desired amount of weight to lose before the match, using methods such as exercise, calorie restriction and fluid deprivation.
The wrestlers were weighed again in the days before the match, and the psychological and strength tests were repeated on the day of the competition.
The wrestlers lost up to 8 percent of their body mass, and the average weight loss was about six pounds. Even though they had 10 days to lose weight, they lost nearly all their weight in the two days before the match.
The researchers found that wrestlers who lost 4 percent or more of their body mass had significantly higher levels of confusion on the day of the competition. There was no increased confusion for those who lost less than 4 percent of their body mass.