The Eating Disorder Rampant Among Cage Fighters

The tactics that cage fighters use to lose weight before a fight are alarming and dangerous, according to a new survey published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The survey included 30 cage-fighter athletes who were competing in five different weight classes. In cage fighting, which is technically called mixed martial arts, there are 11 different weight classes, but athletes aim for the lowest weight class – potentially at the expense of their health and safety.

Results showed that almost one in five of the fighters used sweat-inducing products or supplements, and that more than one in three took prescription or over-the-counter diuretics. Two thirds reported engaging in a practice called “water loading,” where fighters cut back on salt and drastically increase their water intake over the course of a few days, resulting is excessive urination.

Lack of regulations

In the UK, there is no regulatory body for cage fighters, which may put them at risk for injuries or traumas that are due to unsafe dieting practices.

In 2013, a cage fighter from Brazil died after attempting extreme weight loss – 20 percent of his body weight – in 7 days.

The survey also showed that all 30 fighters fasted or ate a low-carb diet in the days leading up to a weigh-in.

Most of the dietary advice cage fighters follow comes from their coaches, the survey found.

Source: BMJ
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/

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