How does eating a salty diet help Ronda Rousey get down to her fighting weight?

From The New Yorker:

To me this sounds like she just adds weight by getting bloated and then removes it. It sounds redundant. What am I missing?


  1. Adding water weight tricks her body into not craving calories so she doesn’t add fat just before a fight. She eats less overall, because of her total weight, even though the weight is mostly water, and not fat or muscle. Maybe she even loses a little fat, although one would hope, not muscle, because one assumes she is training pretty hard.

  2. It’s BS, and she is fooling herself.

I’m inclined toward #2, but if #1 comes into play at all, it’s works on the “setpoint” idea (I’m not going to grace it with the term “theory”) of body weight, which is that your body has some idea of what it should weigh, and will struggle to stay at that weight by adjusting your metabolism, ultimately defeating your efforts to keep your weight down by dieting. She’s tricking her body into maintaining a lower fat content than it otherwise would, by elevating her water content. This works (assuming it does) for someone who needs to weigh n on a certain date for something like a fight, but it wouldn’t work for someone who needs to maintain a weight constantly, or needs to maintain a size and shape, as opposed to a weight, like an actress would.

Again, I’m leaning toward #2. It’s probably something more like, she eats a lot of salty food, which isn’t particularly good for her, and makes her retain water, but it doesn’t makes her gain fat, and it satisfies her need for food with flavor, so she eats less sugar and fat.

The idea is that you load up on salt and water so that your body thinks “Crap, too much salt & water, need to pee it all out”. Then, you cut out the salt and drink less water. The idea being that your body is still in “Crap, too much salt & water” mode and will continue to excrete more water than normal even though you are now dehydrated.

Cutting weight has very little to do with losing fat. A MMA fighter (at least males) will generally weigh about 10% more at the fight compared with a weigh in. So a fighter weighing in at 200 on Thursday evening will be 220 for a Friday evening fight. It’s essentially all water weight. Here’s an article about a guy doing a 5 day cut:

He went from 190 pounds on Sunday, to 170 pounds on Friday, and then back to 187 on Saturday.