Water loading is a practice used to manipulate body weight. This practice generally involves the consumption of large quantities of water (sometimes upwards of 7-8 liters) over a 3-5 day period leading up to weigh-in day. The proposed benefits relate to the practice of having a “diuretic” effect, increasing the output of fluid from the body, therefore decreasing bodyweight. Research has found it to be an effective method in weigh manipulation but should be performed under the supervisor of a professional as it can be dangerous if done incorrectly.
Read: The Importance of Hydration for MMA Athletes
Glycogen is the body's storage form of carbohydrate and it is estimated that the average person has 400 grams of glycogen in their muscles and another 100g in their liver. Every gram of Glycogen attaches to roughly 3g of water.
Through restricting dietary carbohydrates and completing a moderate-intensity exercise, the body and glycogen stores will be reduced. Glycogen depletion reduces your body weight from the removal of both the weight of the stored glycogen and the weight of the water that is stored with the glycogen. This is a high-performance risk practice that should be discussed with your Nutrition Professional before attempting.
As many of you already know sodium, the very important electrolyte, when ingested results in the retention of water. This is a complex process involving the kidneys but to keep it simple, as sodium is restricted in the diet water retention decreases and the process of flushing water from the body begins. It is recommended that the removal of salt from the diet begins at least 3-4 days out from the weigh-in. Once weigh-in is completed, salt is then used in the reverse to aid in the re-hydration process.
These protocols and techniques can be utilized in fight week to reach your competition weight, but it is important that leading up to fight week an athlete has been following an individualized nutrition plan to make sure they come in to fight week at an appropriate weight. This artificial weight loss carries both health and performance risks so always ensure you are being guided by an adequately qualified health professional.