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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Weight cycling in competitive judokas Brewer, Paula E.


It has been suggested that repeated cycles of weight loss, followed by weight gain (termed weight cycling) will lead to metabolic and physiological adaptations which increase food efficiency and thus cause resistance to future weight loss. Athletes who compete in Judo (named judokas), were used as an athletic model of weight cycling. Some judokas cut weight (lose weight) repeatedly, in order to meet specific weight categories for competition, and may therefore represent a weight cycling population. Consequently it is important to determine if suggested metabolic and physiological adaptations associated with weight cycling occur in these athletes. Two groups, weight cyclers (n=9) and matched non-cyclers (n=9),were followed over a period of 10 months (including one competitive season). They followed similar training routines. Weight cyclers dieted (cut weight) in order to compete in a weight class below their usual bodyweight, because they believed that this would give them an advantage over their opponents. Dieting habits were characterized by food restriction an average of 8.1±6.9 (mean±SD) days before their competition. Following the competition, weight was regained to baseline values. There was no significant difference in lean body mass, percentage body fat, height, weight, age, or activity level between the two group sat baseline. Measurements were recorded three times within a one year period. The first pre-season (baseline) value was measured when the judokas were training, but had not yet started to diet for competition. The second test session was during their peak season, at which point the weight cyclers had experienced episodes of weight reduction to meet competitive weight classes. The final test session was conducted during the off-season, at least three months after the Judo season had ended. Measurements included resting energy expenditure (REE), body composition (skinfolds), usual three day food intake (three day food records), and biochemical parameters (fasting insulin, glucose and triiodothyronine). The weight cyclers lost 4.1±1.5 kg, 4.2±2.7 (mean±SD) times per season, whereas the non-cyclers lost little or no weight throughout the study. Weight loss was achieved primarily through food restriction. There was no significant difference in metabolic or physiological parameters between the weight cyclers and the non-cyclers during any of the three test sessions. This study indicated that there were no effects of weight cycling in this athletic population. It is possible that regular physical activity protected against any suggested metabolic adaptations.

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