Cutting weight safely is a critical element of performance and health in combat sports. It is often thought that athletes who are better educated in the science and practice are both able to cut weight more safely and with less impact on their performance, and also keep their weight closer to the division limits and therefore reduce the amount that they have to cut. 


This authors of this study took 63 English male amateur boxers and had them fill out the Nutritional Knowledge Questionnaire for Athletes (NKQA) and the Rapid Weight Loss Patterns Questionnaire (RWL-Q), which assesses the frequency with which specific weight loss techniques are utilised as well as the extent to which knowledge and guidance are sought from professionals. The results of the two questionnaires were cross-referenced to establish correlations. 


Contrary to the author’s hypothesis, the study found no correlation between NKQA and RWL-Q scores, suggesting that having a greater understanding of nutrition basics made no difference to the amount of weight athletes cut before a fight and the severity of the methods used. 


It is likely that the NKQA was to generalised a measure for the specific athlete population and information related to the benefits, downsides and risks of rapid weight loss are of more relevance.


This paper highlights the importance of continuing to push for greater awareness and education around rapid weight loss in combat athletes.

Brown, Freddy CW, Macauley Owen, Neil D. Clarke, and Doug Thake. “No relationship between nutritional knowledge and rapid weight loss in male amateur boxers.” The Journal of Sport and Exercise Science, Vol. 5, Issue 5, 339-346 (2021)

About the author

Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert is a registered physiotherapist with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from Latrobe university (Melbourne, Australia) and a master’s degree in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia).

A 3rd Dan black belt in Shinkyokushinkai Karate under the World Karate Organisation (WKO), Sam participated for over 20 years in full contact competition, winning multiple state and national titles, and culminating in a 4th place in the heavyweight division of the Shinkyokushinkai World Cup in 2009.

As the co-founder and clinical director of Club 360, the premier multi-disciplinary health and fitness center in Tokyo, Japan, Sam has combined his practical experience with an in-depth study of sports performance in relation to combat sports, and strives to help other combat athletes reach their full competitive potential, whilst at the same time decreasing injury risk and increasing competition and training potential.

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By Sam Gilbert