Wrestling is a sport in which many participants are encouraged to follow strict diets in order to drop weight during the season. Some coaches do not have nutrition training, and they may have unrealistic expectations about weight loss. Nutrition plays an important part in the performance of any athlete. Without an adequate intake of carbohydrates, protein and fat, the body will not have enough fuel to perform at optimal levels.
- Eat at least 1,700 to 2,500 calories a day. During very hard training, you may need an additional 1,000 calories a day.
- Consume between 2.3 and 3.6 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight each day. Good choices include whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables.
- Target good sources of protein, including fish, chicken turkey and yogurt. Amounts should be based on body weight—typically .8 grams of protein per pound is an adequate amount.
- Incorporate heart-healthy fats, such as canola oil, olive oil and nuts into meals and snacks.
During a match, a wrestler is performing at or near 100 percent—the entire match. A pre-competition meal high in carbohydrates is essential for sustaining this intense energy level. Liquid supplements, such as Boost® or Ensure®, are good choices, since they are low in fiber and easy to digest.
Sports drinks during training or tournaments are very helpful in maintaining energy levels required for the multiple matches that take place during a tournament.
After Training and Post-Match
The importance of eating after training or a match is often overlooked. Replenishing the fluids and energy used during activity is very important for recovery. Eating a meal with carbohydrates, protein and a little fat, plus re-hydrating with water or a sports drink is a good habit to develop.
Some wrestlers try to “make weight” by dehydrating themselves. This is very dangerous and decreases both strength and performance. Wrestlers can improve performance and avoid the dangerous risks associated with dehydration by following some easy guidelines:
- Drink two cups of fluids two hours before a match. Drink another cup of fluid 15 minutes before the match.
- Weigh in before and after training and matches. An athletic trainer can help you calculate how much fluid to drink to replenish what was lost through sweat. On average this means drinking three cups of liquid for every pound lost.
- Eat foods with a high water content, such as grapes, watermelon, apples, lettuce and cucumbers.