How to Put Weight Back on After Weigh Ins
I’ve already discussed how to quickly and safely (relatively) cut weight for a powerlifting meet in this article; however, I have yet to discuss how to put weight back on after weigh ins. Making weight is only a small piece of the puzzle. After a weigh in, you have twenty-four hours to put as much of the weight that you lost back on as quickly as possible. If done properly, not only can you regain your lost weight, but you can supercompensate and put on even more weight than you lost! If you’re a raw lifter or a geared lifter with loose-fitting gear, this can undoubtedly improve performance. Without any further ado, it’s time to discuss the Do’s and Dont’s during that twenty-four hour period before you step on the platform.
Rehydrate as Soon as You Step off the Scale
If you followed my weight cutting guide or something similar to it like Chris Duffin’s Weight Cutting Guide , you are going to be in a dehydrated state come weigh ins. Because we are limited on time, we have to make the most with what little time we are given. You may be thinking that it’s time to load up on water, but plain old water just isn’t going to cut it here. Not only do we need large amounts of liquids, but we need to hold onto as much ingested liquid as we can without getting sick. To do this, we need carbs and salts to hold onto our water. After all, water that we urinate out isn’t going to do us any good here.
There are several post weigh in drinks to choose from depending upon how much you’re willing to spend. If you are on a budget or had a fairly easy cut, watered down Gatorade works just fine. I like to buy Gatorade powder (like this) and add five servings to a gallon. A half and half solution of pre-made Gatorade and water works just the same. I do not recommend drinking straight Gatorade as all the sugar in it seems to cause diarrhea after a weight cut for a large number of individuals.
Many powerlifters opt for a liter of Pedialyte (here’s an example) after their weigh-ins. Pedialyte was designed to replace fluids and electrolytes in infants and children who are suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, but it also works great for powerlifters who are dehydrated from a weight-cut. In my experience (and many others), Pedialyte works better than a Gatorade mixture and doesn’t come with the hassle of mixing or watering down. These conveniences and do come with a higher price tag though. If the price isn’t worth it to you, Walmart has a cheaper knock-off brand similar to Pedialyte, but I have no experience with it. It might be worth checking out, but research it or use at your own risk.
If your weight cut was substantial, or you just like to play it safe considering how much time and money you’ve spent for a meet, I have a concoction that can put a huge amount of weight back on after weigh ins. To do this, you need a gallon of water, a can of coconut water, 75-100 grams of Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin (found in Glycofuse or Intra-MD formulated by John Meadows) , two Nuun tabs and ten grams of creatine (if creatine doesn’t give you GI issues).
Coconut water has been shown to be just as effective, if not better, than sports drinks on the market for replacing lost fluids and helps to prevent cramps due to its high potassium content. For anunbiased analysis of coconut water as a hydration agent , check out this WebMD article. If you opt with a Gatorade mixture, coconut water could be added to the mix as well.
Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin (HBCD) is a fast-absorbing designer carb that I personally like. Truth be told though, something like maltodrextrin or even glucose (also known as dextrose) probably work just as well. You will be fine so long as you choose a carb source that is absorbed quickly so your stomach doesn’t remain full for long.
Although coconut water is a hydrating agent, it is not sufficient alone. This is where the Nuun tablets come into play. Nuun tablets are active hydration tablets that contain the optimal amount of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes to insure immediate hydration. I first heard about Nuun tablets from Stan Efferding, who is an American IFBB Pro Bodybuilder and world-record holding raw powerlifter (for a picture of Stan Efferding, click here). Later, a friend recommended them to me, so I decided to give them a shot. As I mentioned in my previous weight-cutting article, Nuun tablets proved to be highly useful for rehydration and I enjoy the flavors (particularly orange and citrus fruit). I plan to use them from now on and I even add them to my water the day before I test for a PR. Just like coconut water, you could add Nuun tablets to the Gatorade mixture, and perhaps even to Pedialyte.
There’s really not too much to say about creatine. For those who don’t know, creatine is the most researched sport supplement in the world. It is an incredible supplement for powerlifting with peer-reviewed research demonstrating an increase in power output, weight, hydration, lean body mass, bone mineral density, fatigue resistance, muscular endurance, testosterone and subjective well-being and a reduction in muscle damage, fatigue and depression. Creatine also provides glycemic control for diabetics and may even inhibit myostatin, a protein that prevents muscle growth and differentiation. Creatine is extremely cheap and if you aren’t using it already, you’re missing out. For more information on creatine and other must-have powerlifting supplements, read this article.
Continue to Hydrate Throughout the Day
That first drink after weigh-ins is going to go a long way toward putting the weight back on; however, if you cut five pounds or more, you will need to drink throughout the day to get up to and then maintain at your competition weight. You should shoot for a pace of one liter per hour until it’s time to go to bed. For some this may be difficult, but it’s necessary if you want to do your best. There’s no reason to drink more than this though, as our body can’t uptake liquid much faster than this anyway and the extra liquid is going to take up space in the stomach that could be better used for food. I also suggest adding a few Nuun tablets throughout the day, but don’t go overboard here. While it isn’t mandatory, it would be beneficial if you could separate your meals and liquid intake so that you try to drink your liter/hour between your meals. This will help keep stomach acid and digestive enzymes from getting diluted so that you can digest better. This may not seem important, but considering how wonky your digestive system may be after a large weight cut, it’s better to err on the side of caution.
Consume High-Carb, High-Salt, Low-Fat Foods Until Late in the Day
In order to retain as much water as possible, we need to consume foods that are high in carbs and salts. You can start doing this immediately after you finish your first drink. We don’t want to upset our stomach here, so it’s best to begin with something light to test the stomach. It’s critical to avoid high fat foods at this time. Not only can they make you sick, but they are very filling and take a while to digest. Instead, I start with my favorite sugary candies such as sour patch kids, sweet tarts and swedish fish, and something salty like baked potato chips or pretzels. After this, I turn to grapes and bananas, both of which are high in potassium and grapes carry a lot of water too. If my stomach feels fine, I will eat solid foods such as rice, bread and potatoes and try to salt everything that I can. Low fat Oreos, ramen and Chef Boyardee are other personal favorites of mine that I will eat later in the day. When it’s close to bed time, I will allow myself a high-fat meal. For me, this is typically as much pizza as I can eat without throwing up, but you could choose whatever you want in this situation. I know a lot of lifters that swear by Asian restaurants because their menus are packed with high carb and high salt foods. Your final meal is going to be of the morning before your meet. I would try to give this meal two to three hours of digestion time, so even though your sleep is important, it’s best to wake up an hour early to get a quality meal in before your rules meeting. It’s good to make this a hearty and filling meal, but stick to something you are comfortable with and have eaten many times before lest you want to risk spending your day on the toilet rather than the platform.
Eat High-Fat and High-Protein Foods Early After Weigh Ins
I see this mistake time and time again and it’s a sure sign that someone doesn’t properly know how to put weight back on after weigh ins. Protein may be important any other day, but on this day, protein only serves to fill you up and slow down digestion. Keep in mind that dietitians always recommend overweight individuals to adhere to high protein diets because of how filling protein is. This may be good for a cut, but it’s not when we are trying to put as much weight back on as possible in a day. For the same reason, foods that are high in fat should be avoided. They may be high in calories, but they aren’t going to help with water retention, will quickly fill you up and are likely to make you sick. All of these factors are recipes for disaster, and I have witnessed many good lifters crash and burn by following down the high-fat, high-protein path. You can have your triple whopper, just make it your final meal of the night. That way, it’s not leaving you full for the rest of the day when you need to eating and drinking all day long.
This tip may seem contradictory in a “How to Put Weight Back on After Weigh Ins” article, but if you gorge yourself you risk losing everything (literally). All is lost if you spew up everything you ate and drank over the last few hours!
Eat Unfamiliar foods
I admire those who are adventurous enough to try new and unusual foods, but please don’t do this right before your powerlifting competition! An allergy attack, food poisoning, vomiting and explosive diarrhea are going to do nothing for your total. Eating high carb, high salt foods that you know you can tolerate; however, will make all the difference in the world.
By reading this article, you have all the information you need to know on how to put weight back on after weigh ins; however, all this information is for naught if you don’t put it to good use. Have everything planned out and written down well before your meet and buy everything you will need before you head out to your meet venue if possible. If you can’t do that, you owe it to yourself to at least research and scope out where all the nearest grocery stores and restaurants are in relation to both the meet venue and the room you may have rented.
The process of cutting weight and putting it back on over twenty-four hours for a powerlifting meet can be an extremely stressful experience. Many people do it all wrong and suffer as a consequence. It doesn’t have to be that way. Everything will turn out fine so long as you hydrate throughout the day and maintain a steady intake of familiar high carb and high sodium foods and stay away from high fat, high protein and unfamiliar foods early in the day.
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