How to Cut Weight the Right Way for Sports

How to Cut Weight the Right Way for Sports

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Guest blogger Adam Axelson, amateur boxer and avid WINforum fan, tells us from the inside out what it is like to be in a sport that is weight class driven.  Let’s see what Adam has to say…

Adam Axelson - Boxer

“How many pounds you cutting bro?”

“You need to throw on a trash bag before getting into that sauna!”

“I’m only eating ice chips until weigh-ins.”

It is hard to deny the importance of weight loss in sports with specified weight classes. Some compete at a weight class far below a natural weight, or risk getting demolished by athletes weighing as much as 30 pounds heavier in competition. I boxed in the United States Amateur Boxing League through high school and college, attending Olympic qualifying tournaments on two separate occasions before competing professionally.  Trust me, I have seen the good and bad of this potentially unhealthy evil.

The good news is that there are healthy ways for athletes to accomplish short-term weight loss. The bad news is that most athletes tend to do this via incredibly unhealthy means. It seems ridiculous, but some athletes consider it a badge of honor the more miserable their weight cut is.

I wish I could say I accomplished my weight drops in a healthy fashion from the time I started competing. However, as a young athlete, I was not sure who to listen to and simply went off the advice of my fellow competitors. These recommendations were effective for losing pounds, but not maintaining adequate nutrition for competition.

I competed like this for YEARS, before meeting a trainer who literally changed my life as an athlete. Through a mutual friend, I met strength coach and nutritionist Taylor Selig. He taught me the importance of fueling my fitness and how positively that would affect my training and performance during competition.

Taylor taught me a slow weight loss method, focused on maintaining muscle mass over a three to four week period. Rather than focusing on what I COULDN’T eat, I learned to time what I COULD eat balanced with strength and aerobic workouts, contributing to slow and steady weight loss while still consuming healthy levels of all macronutrients (carbs, fat and protein). By eliminating the binge and purge diet that competitors such as myself were so used to, I hit a new stride in competition during the 2011 season.

Adam Axelson boxing

I won nine consecutive matches before losing a regional championship match in Utah to a nationally ranked fighter. I proceeded to win two more state tournaments and another regional championship before qualifying for the national amateur tournament that year. I had never felt so confident in my body and its ability to perform when placed under high demands during competition.

I have taken these diet principles out of the ring and into my life as a father and husband. Rather than constantly talking about body aesthetics, my family values the importance of nutrition fueling a fun, dynamic lifestyle. We make sure to eat nutritious foods, but avoid fad diets and “cleanses” that restrict adequate nutrition. This keeps us healthy and happy, ready for any adventures life has in store for us.

Adam Axelson is a boxer and a father

Way to go Adam!  #FEEDYOURGAME
Are you an athlete with a fueling and training story to tell?  Email us at and you may be our next guest athlete blogger!


About the author

The Washington Interscholastic Nutrition Forum (WINforum) is a research based sport nutrition resource for student-athletes, parents, coaches, and professionals in the field of athletics. Our team of Sports Nutritionists (Registered Dieitians with a specialty in sports nutrition) keep our website stocked with accurate, science based nutrition information and sport nutrition tips, in order to help athletes and coaches reach their full potential on and off the field.