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Sports

I Lost 7 kg in Four Days to Beat the Shit Out of Someone

Greek Muay Thai champion Pavlos Kaponis on the perils of rapid weight loss.

All photos courtesy of Pavlos Kaponis

This article originally appeared on VICE Greece

One of the things I found out about myself through kickboxing was that I was capable of self-restraint – especially when I needed to lose a bit of weight in the run up to a fight. I never thought of myself as a disciplined person before but for some reason, having a goal in sight, meant that sticking to a puritan plan of carbohydrate dodging and caffeine reduction wasn't that hard.

Annoncering

When I heard that Greek Muay Thai champion Pavlos Kaponis lost 7 kg [1.1 st] in four days for one event in Hong Kong, however, my own sacrifices seemed pretty pathetic. I gave him a call to ask how one goes about shedding a whole stone in no time and more importantly if it's at all healthy.

Pavlos Kaponis (right), a friend and the Greek flag

VICE: Hey Pavlos, one stone in four days. Is that normal?
Pavlos Kaponis: I do it before every tournament, really. One day before the fight, there's a weigh-in that determines the weight division each fighter should compete in. If you've managed to lose a bit of weight for the weigh in, then you have 24 hours to regain all the weight you lost and have that bit of advantage over your opponent. The first time I took part in a tournament, I weighed in at about 74kg [11.6 st] – my normal weight. But my opponent was more than 80kg [12.5 st], which is a massive difference. In martial arts, weight isn't a detail — it's a deciding factor. I heard about this weight loss trick and started looking into it. I went to a bunch of specialist nutrition seminars to figure out the best way to lose eight.

Surely this rapid body weight fluctuation can't be good for you?
Well, you need a lot of attention and continuous monitoring from both a doctor and a nutritionist. This kind of diet is not for everyone because it really stresses your body to the limit. You can never be quite sure how your body will react. It's a bit easier for me now because my body is used to it — I've done it four times so far.

Annoncering

There must be some risks involved.
The biggest danger is dehydration because the largest part of the weight you lose is water. That's why you need to follow a strict diet for an entire month before the fight. You also need to work out correctly because you aren't just aiming to avoid dehydration but also to build up the strength required to actually win the fight.

So, what's the process behind losing all that weight?
I work out twice a day — an hour in the morning and 90 mins in the evening. They are pretty moderate workouts given that I am only after shedding weight. I also wear a special sweating outfit which helps me reach the right weight.

I also go on a very special diet: I stop eating carbohydrates and basically only eat protein. For breakfast, I'll have some egg whites and one slice of bread, lunch will be a salad and for dinner, a little meat. That's it.

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How did you manage to put all your weight back on in one day?
Putting the weight back on requires far more attention than losing it in the first place. You need to fill your body up again in one day. I spend the entire day eating small portions of food and drinking water every half hour. Even when I sleep, my team wakes me up to eat. You have to be careful not to eat too much because it can mess you up.

Is it tough on your psychology?
All you care about is the weigh-in. That's the stressful situation. Otherwise it's my job and I like it. Just like everyone else, I make sacrifices for my job.