Weight Cutting in Wrestling10 Nov 2014
By Matt Opheim - Staff Writer / Insidecoloradowrestling.com & Mark Schwab - University of Northern Iowa
Wrestling = weight cutting right?
I disagree. Wrestling = discipline and discipline requires a certain mindset. A mindset that not everyone has, but those that do, will be successful in wrestling and everything else they choose to endeavor. Weight cutting is one of the disciplines of the sport and no matter what anyone does or says, no matter how many weight classes there are, weight cutting is just part of the deal. I don't condone extreme weight cutting, however it is an important component to the sport and a component that should be surrounded by positive support and education. I mean really, let's just face it. If you, as a parent don't support weight cutting, understand how to support proper weight cutting tactics, how is your wrestler going to respond? I assure you, he will cut some weight, and most likely, he will do it the wrong way. Be positive and support his choice, he is going to do it anyway, therefore, you should help him do it correctly. Discipline requires patience. Weight maintenance for a wrestler should be a daily occurrence and top of mind, not just November through February, but instead, January through December.
Never dehydrate or starve your body. Focus on losing body fat; this takes time. Starving and dehydration guarantees poor training, performance, attitude, effort, and unnecessary injury. Spend as little time as possible in a starved or dehydrated state. Dehydration should not occur until the last 12-16 hours before a weigh-in. Your muscles are roughly 80% water. When you dehydrate, it's muscle sabotage. You will lose more weight by fueling your body in small portions throughout the day then if you starve. NEVER enter a workout starved or dehydrated.
Your body is incredibly resistant to giving up body fat. You have to create a calorie deficit through your diet and workouts. Morning workouts are ideal for burning fat. You should be going for long runs and extra cardio to burn body-fat. You have to work-out outside of structured practices to burn calories.
Avoid excessive sugar and salt, pop, fried foods, chips, candy bars, late night eating, and huge portions. Always eat breakfast, small portions throughout the day, and always remain fueled and hydrated for training sessions. Always fuel your body immediately after a training session.
Carbohydrates (4 calories per gram) your bodies preferred source of fuel. This should be roughly 55-65% of your intake. Examples- fruit (full of carbs and water) vegetables, whole grain bread, pancakes, French toast, waffles-moderate syrup, Fig Newton, yogurt, chocolate milk, oatmeal mixed with fruit, etc
Protein (4 calories per gram) is not used for energy. It's used to build and repair exercised tissue. You don't need it in large doses. It should be roughly 15-20% of intake. Examples-lean meats, chicken breast, skim or 2% milk, egg whites, clear broths soups (low sodium) French toast, etc.
Fat (9 calories per gram) taste good, but is not beneficial when trying to lose body fat. Your fat intake should be minimized to 15-25%. Examples-whole milk, fatty cuts of meat, margarine, peanut butter, white sauces and gravies, salad dressing, oils, creams, mayo, fried foods, potato chips, candy bars, pop, white bread.
Wake-up- Drink 8-12 oz of OJ or Vegetable juice. Eat 1-2 pieces of fruit and 1-2 pieces of whole grain/ wheat toast.
8:00-8:30 a.m. following a.m. workout, it's crucial to eat breakfast. Drink 12-16 oz of water / Gatorade. Eat 1-2 pieces of fruit, bowl of oatmeal or pancakes or French toast. (Moderate syrup)
12:00-12:30 p.m. Drink 16 oz of water. Eat pasta with little sauce or a sandwich with lean meat-whole grain/ wheat bread, and a piece of fruit.
2:30-2 pieces of fruit or 4 oz of frozen fruit from Wal-Mart is perfect. (Blueberries, Blackberries, Strawberries)
5:30 p.m. - After workout drink 20-24 oz of water and 16 oz of gatorade
6:00-7:00 p.m. Drink 12-16 oz of water, eat 8-12 oz of chicken or lean meat, 4-8 oz of pasta or 2 pieces of whole grain bread, 6oz of yogurt or 5 fig Newton's.
Unless it's 24-36 hours before a weigh in-you should drink 32-64 oz of water
10:00 p.m. Eat a small bowl of cereal or a granola bar with 8 oz of skim milk. A cup of tea with Melatonin will help with sleep
This is just an example; you can substitute foods, but stick with the percentages listed above. As you can see, you actually take a lot in. The amount of food and water you take-in depends on your weight class and weight situation. If you wait to the last minute, this plan is fruitless. This plan only works if you get your body-fat down over time. (Low body fat is the key to burning calories and competing effectively.) Most champions in all sports are lean. This will take extra workouts early on but will be well worth it when you're feeling strong and can work on skills instead of dehydration and starvation. Remember you chose a tough sport and one that needs long term planning to succeed.
Q&A with Mark Schwab
Why is proper nutrition before and during a tournament important? It's important because fueling your body effects your energy level, endurance, attitude and motivation. You need fuel for execution and endurance.
Can you talk about how if Div. 1 wrestlers are focusing on nutrition, youth and high school wrestlers should too, because being successful on and off the mat is a "lifestyle" and diet is a part of that lifestyle? I don't know if I have correct answers so I answer from experience as a coach and athlete. Fueling your body is vital. Too many athletes spend their time focusing on weight loss and not enough time on making solid nutritional choices. In simple terms, "starving and massive dehydration" is sabotage and you often will lose more weight at the end of the day by fueling because you can train more aggressively and have a totally different experience mentally. It's hard to get this through to athletes. A lot of this has to do with procrastination. When it comes to losing weight, it's easy to put off and dehydrate at the end, but with one hour weigh-ins, you will pay the price. We encourage athletes to spend the least amount of time possible in a dehydrated state. Also, athletes need to understand our brains gobble up a lot of our glycogen and when we severely deprive our body of fuel, our muscles fatigue and our attitude and motivation suffer, then we make poor choices nutritionally and mentally the athlete begins to dread and eak through training and performance. The athlete also has to allow time for the lifestyle to render results. There will be uncomfortable periods, but in this sport, you have to be willing to give up comfort to achieve personal satisfaction, goals and dreams.
What are some things to STAY AWAY from? Soda, energy drinks (popular among youth), candy bars, doritos, seem obvious? But how can the WRONG diet affect you? I believe everything in moderation. Soda tastes good but often doesn't quench your thirst. It's high in sugar, calories and caffeine. Energy drinks are artificial energy. They may give you a boost, but often takes you lower than where you started. It's about making solid decisions. For example, foods closest to their natural state will likely benefit you most and water, water, water. Find a balance of beneficial fuel and fuel for taste. However, fuel for taste in moderation. The key is being consistent and disciplined over time.