Weighing the Pros and Cons
For some athletes the new weight classes will have minimal impact, but for others the decision to either go up a class or down a class will have major implications to their training, especially when it comes to nutrition.
Take Mattie Rogers for example. She has been vocal about her journey from 69kg to 71 kg, eventually entering the 76 kg Olympic category. She stated, “gaining weight is very difficult for my body, so I am embracing this challenge.” She also reported a body fat percentage of 10-12% and that dropping to 64kg is not an option for her. Mattie is faced with making some major adjustments to her nutrition. In contrast, athletes such as Alyssa Ritchey previously lifting at 48 kg and having to make sizeable cuts to get there, will now be moving into the 49kg category with ease.
For some athletes, body weight manipulations come easy. They gain weight just looking at food and drop weight just as easily.
In theory, losing and gaining weight is an energy equation. When we have a surplus of calories our bodies will store it, and when we are in a deficit, our bodies will burn it. But, the equation gets more complicated when we factor in things like metabolism, digestion, hormones, genetics, and environmental factors.
Along with this, anytime we make a change to our nutrition, there is a large behavioral component that is often ignored. When we make changes to our diet, our routine, habits, performance, and even emotions will be impacted.
Nutrition is all about consistency, so if you are choosing to make changes that you can’t see yourself consistently doing, you may be wasting your time. Can you consistently eat more food and continue to do so for weeks and months on end? How about less food? Can you battle hunger and continue to perform at your best?
Which weight class is best for you? The answer will vary for each athlete. Use these questions to guide you through the decision.
Questions to ask yourself and/or your athletes:
1. How do I feel when I train under or over fueled?
Can you still perform well with less food? Would more food leave you feeling overstuffed? How does this impact your training sessions?
2. How does hunger/fullness affect my performance and mood?
“Hangry” anyone? Hunger affects each person differently. If hunger greatly impacts your mood, energy and performance, a cut may be more difficult than anticipated and the same goes for being overstuffed. Does feeling full leave you sluggish and unmotivated?
3. “How would cutting/gaining weight affect me mentally, especially during competition?”
More often than not, those who have to cut a significant amount of weight, for instance, total less in competition than what they do in training. Though there are some physiological effects to cutting weight, much of the difference is mental. Knowing you haven’t eaten plays a big role in your energy levels, strength, and recovery.
4. Will a change to my nutrition effect how I recover?
Depending on your current calorie and macro goals there may be room to trim down and still recover between training sessions. If you are already running lean on food consumption, decreasing more may impact your ability to recover and perform well the next day. This can increase your risk for injury and compromise intensity.
5. How easily do I gain or lose weight?
What does your body naturally do? Gain, lose, maintain? Any time we fight our natural equilibrium, it is work. Is it impossible? No, just work. With proper guidance we can achieve a lot, but the less we fight your internal cues the easier it is to achieve.
6. What is my current body fat %?
Can I afford to lose body fat? Body fat % is affected by many factors, but if you are on the high or low end, pushing further in that direction may compromise performance and health.
Choosing to go up or down a weight class is a highly individualized decision. You are the expert of your own body and the more you are working with your body, not against it, the better the results will be.
P&G Nutrition Team