Purposeful Athletic Weight Loss and Dehydration
Some individual sports are contested in a spectrum of weight classes. This prompts some athletes to lose weight by restricting food and fluid intake, and by resting or exercising in a hot environment. A small number of weight lifters, rowers, boxers, and wrestlers have used diuretics water pills that reduce reabsorption of water in the kidneys to speed weight loss by increasing urine production. The International Olympic Committee and the National Collegiate Athletic Association have banned the use of diuretics. Despite these regulations, of collegiate wrestlers have reported large weight fluctuations – kg every week of their competitive season. This was painfully demonstrated by the deaths of three American collegiate wrestlers during fall ofDiuretic use results in great reductions in cardiovascular endurance and larger fluid loss from the circulatory system than any other form of dehydration. When only food restriction is used, water and lean body mass are the primary substances to be lost, not fat. The result is a decrease of muscle carbohydrate stores glycogen and muscle water, which translates to decrements of temperature regulation, cardiovascular function, endurance, and possibly power when near-maximal exercise lasts longer than sec. Other methods of rapid weight loss appear to affect athletic performance in different ways. For example, severe fluid restriction may alter the performance of strength athletes. When exercise in a hot environment is combined with water restriction, decreases in strength and power are even more likely to result.
Even psychological factors associated with rapid weight loss may influence physical performance negatively. The resultant mood changes and altered decision making suggest that athletes who dehydrate to make weight could be at a psychological disadvantage when compared to opponents who do not undergo dehydration. These effects may be partly reduced by undergoing rapid weight loss many times.
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Recommendations for Counteracting Heat and Humidity
The following questions have been developed as a summary of this chapter. Athletes, soldiers, and laborers alike can use this checklist to evaluate their readiness to perform exercise, work, or live in a hot environment. Corrective action should be taken if any question is answered no.
Have I trained for – days in a hot environment, similar in temperature and humidity to the ultimate target environment, before I begin competition or an work shift?
Do I wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing?
Do I know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion, exertional heatstroke, heat syncope, and heat cramps?
Do I avoid lengthy warm-up periods on very hot-humid days? for athletes only
Do I know my sweat rate and the amount of fluid that I should drink to replace every kilogram of body weight lost? Do I drink an appropriate volume of fluid before, during, and after exercise?
When training requires that I cover many miles, do I a design a course that allows frequent rehydration at water fountains, schools, gas stations, convenience stores, and city parks, or b carry water in bottles held by a belt, pouch, holster, or backpack?
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