The demands of wrestling are varied, and more challenging than many other sports, because not only is it physically vigorous, but participants also must stay under weight requirements. This often leads to extreme and unhealthy weight-cutting measures, including crash diets and starvation. A survey by the American College of Sports Medicine in 2001 revealed that 72 percent of respondents engaged in at least one dangerous weight-loss method. Despite the pressures involved with making weight, high school wrestlers should maintain a healthy diet.
Protein is vital for high school wrestlers because it provides their muscles the amino acids necessary to recover from vigorous exercise. It also aids in building muscle through weight-lifting, which is often a primary facet of a wrestler's workout routine. There's a bevy of options in terms of high-protein foods, such as chicken, red meat, nuts and beans. The best choices are foods high in protein but low in saturated fat, which takes longer to burn, so wrestlers should focus on eating lean cuts of meat.
Wrestling matches may only be six minutes long, but they're a non-stop physical workout that can drain the body of fluids through perspiration. And wrestling practice, which often lasts hours, can sap a large portion of fluid out of a high school athlete's body. Water hydrates the body without providing the abundance of sugar that can come in other drinks. There are also various sports drinks that serve a wrestler well. Gatorade, for instance, helps replenish the body's supply of electrolytes, which are lost in sweat. They help hydrate the body and support proper functioning muscles and nerves.
A teen athlete's diet plan should be composed of 60 to 70 percent carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are a wrestler's friend. Unlike the simple carbs found in starchy and sugary foods like white bread and pastries, the complex carbs found in whole grains, beans and legumes are digested slowly, which means your body is fueled with energy for longer stretches of time. This can help a wrestler stave off fatigue, and cut down on the need to eat as much while trying to maintain minimum weight.
Wrestlers, like everyone else, need fat in order to fuel their bodies. But they shouldn't exceed the FDA's daily suggested intake of 60 to 65 grams, or no more than 25 to 35 percent of their daily calorie intake, while avoiding saturated fats. Such fats, which usually come in highly processed items like fast food and chocolate, stay in your body longer and contribute to a variety of illnesses. Egg whites and tuna are low-fat options that also have muscle-supporting qualities.
Wrestlers are highly prone to a variety of bacteria and skin infections because of the dank, sweaty mats with which they come into contact over and over again, as well as the skin-to-skin contact involved in the sport. In addition to proper hygienic habits, it's advisable to eat foods high in antioxidants, which help the body fend off infection. Some examples of foods and spices high in antioxidants include berries, oranges, plums, nuts, seeds, ginger and oregano.
All teen athletes need to incorporate a balanced eating plan in their daily routine. Keeping the body healthy by giving it the fuel it needs for the teen to participate in his chosen sport is essential. Most teens should take in between 2,000 and 3,000 calories per day, depending on their height, size, sex and activity level. Even when trying to lose weight, a teen should take in a minimum of 1,700 to 2,000 calories daily.
- USA Wrestlers: Wrestler's diet
- CBS: Weight Loss Methods Of High School Wrestlers
- Georgia High School Asscoiation: Treatment and Prevention of Skin Infections in Wrestlers
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Sports Nutrition for Teens
- Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association: Wrestlers' Diet