Secrets of Bodyweight Manipulation, Part Eight - J.M. Blakley
Just as much work is involved in the process of putting weight back into the body as was involved in the removal of it. This is a concept that only too few athletes fully grasp. Performance will surely be compromised if all but full replenishment of body weight is not actualized. Performance can even be aided by close attention to replacing fluids to a point beyond the starting weight. This is known as a rebound effect and is very beneficial to the lifter.
The food lost from the gut during fasting need not be restored at all. But the act of fasting does pull some stores of glycogen from liver and muscle depots. Also blood sugar levels may be low. The general energy state of the athlete can also be down. A diet high in carbohydrate for the next 24 hours will refill the muscle and liver glycogen stores as well as bring the blood glucose levels back to normal. The storing of glycogen has an added benefit as 2.5 to 3 grams of water will be stored along with every 1 gram of glycogen in muscle and liver. This has a true, deep hydrating effect at the cellular level. The plasma volume is raised if blood glucose is kept high by constantly eating of carbs every hour. The effect of carbohydrate ingestion along with fluids can have the very dramatic effect of expanding the blood volume and raising the blood pressure.
Blood pressure should be monitored closely. It is not uncommon for an athlete to eat and drink too much too soon after weigh-in and suffer headaches and nosebleeds. This can cause a risk of stroke also and can be easily avoided by keeping tabs on blood pressure andreplacing the fluids more gradually.
It is also not uncommon to see an athlete vomit the first round of foods and fluids back up. This moves the athlete in the wrong direction and the nausea can seriously impede further attempts to reconstitute. This, too, is easily avoided by exercising discipline with the first batch of reconstitution materals. Choosing to eat small amounts interspersed with rest periods will prove beneficial for the competitor.
A well tolerated volume of food must be established by each individual but it is best to start out with too little than too much and each trial begin to increase the amount. The type of food is also a major factor at this critical time. Potato chips and salty snacks are light in composition and heavy in sodium. A slice of sausage and pepperoni pizza may not be as well tolerated. Crackers, candy, or a small amount of a favorite food are good options. Too much of anything can be bad, so moderation and blood presure indicate how much will be tolerated.
Disciplined athletes will start out slow and easy and gradually eat more and more each meal. The meals also tend to get heavier and heavier. By the evening the athlete wants nothing more to do with food but will continue to eas as much as they can stand (truly forcing themselves to replenish even after they feel fine). Going this extra mile will ensure that all glycogen stores are not only brought back up to normal, but overcompensated and filled with more than was started with. This is true carbohydrate loading and can actually overfill the muscles with glycogen (and water!). Obviously this is a good thing for competiton.
The athlete continues to eat until a specified time prior to the event possible 1.5 hours pre. More if the athlete is particularly nervous or excited.
The best choices of food after the initial recomposition has begun are foods high in carbohydrate and high in electrolytes and salt. However, after a certain point, whatever the athlete can stomach will do. Every attempt must be made to consume an excess of 5,000 calories. The more the better.
A schedule should be set up and followed as closely as possible, especially at the beginning. The eating bouts should be at regular intervals and increase slowly in volume and calories. By about 6 hours post weigh-in, the reins should be let out and the athlete should eat as much as possible in each subsequent sitting. Every meal matters. The committed athlete will force the food even when they are full.
This presents a small problem. The feedings combined with the stress of the cutting process (not to mention possible sleeplessness the night before) can make the athlete a bit groggy and a nap is definitely in order. However, some athletes will take this too far and miss meals and fluids while they are napping. This puts them behind and then when they finally feel energized again and ready to eat, it's nearing time for bed. Restaurants are closing and food just isn't as easy to get ot prepare. They dismiss this and promise themselves that they will eat an extra big breakfast to make up for it and retuire with less than they should have eaten.
This is a big mistake for two reasons. First, they are unlikely to make up the missed calories. And even if they did, they're still behind the point they could have been if they had eaten at least something more the day before. Secondly, the food that is eaten immediately does not end up in the body absorbed, assimilated and transferred into the cells as food eaten the day prior would have been. Much of it is "on the way" but not yet incorporated into the muscles deep down. Food eaten the day prior has time to make its way deep into the cells where it can have the most benefit (stored as glycogen).
So if too much napping is a problem the athlete must set a timer to wake them at inervals and quickly eat the intended food and fluids and only then go back to resting and overcoming the fatigue of cutting weight.
To some degree this applies to the night's rest also. Some effort should be made to eat and hydrate throughout the night. There is a trade-off between good rest and full recomposition, admittedly. The truth is that many competitive athletes are restless the night before a big competition anyway. It is the exception to find an athlete that sleeps deeply the night prior to a meet. It is very easy to have small amounts of food by the bedstand, along with fluids, to take every time the athlete wakes up. On a particularly restless night this can be a substantial amount of calories. It is not necessary to set an alarm to rouse the athlete from slumber to eat, but the opportunistic athlete will take advantage of the night hours by continuing to reconstitute if they happen to wake up.
Next: Fluid Replenishment and the Wrap Up.
"Let bravery be thy choice, but not bravado."
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