Wrestlers who are cutting weight must walk a carefully balanced line between eating enough to maintain their energy and reducing calories enough to lose weight. Although snacking between meals can mean eating too much, a series of snacks throughout the day can help keep your energy levels even. The trick is to eat the right kind of snacks for the needs of your body and to maintain your competitive edge.
Weight Cutting Basics
A small wrestler would be at a disadvantage in competition against a large wrestler. For this reason, wrestling competition is divided into weight classes. A wrestler must prove he weighs at or below a division limit to compete in a specific weight class -- and wrestlers who compete below their natural body weight are typically larger and stronger than others in their class.
Avoiding Empty Snacks
If you're cutting weight, avoid all high-calorie, low-value foods like sweets, soda pop and fast food. Every calorie you take in needs to be high in nutrition if you want to perform on the mat. Otherwise, every empty calorie you eat is another calorie that's not helping you wrestle well.
You should aim for long-lasting energy from foods that break down slowly in your digestive system. Fast-digesting foods like refined carbohydrates will give you peaks and valleys in your blood sugar. You'll feel good during the peaks but will crave more food -- potentially enough to break your weight cutting diet -- during the valleys. Proteins and whole grains make better snacks than fruit or refined grains.
If your stomach is rumbling, you can fill it with zero-calorie snacks without affecting your long-term weight gain goals. Celery, iceberg lettuce and cucumbers are examples of foods that have fewer calories in them than you'll burn while digesting them. This advice only works until 48 hours before your weigh in. At that point, you're concerned with the actual physical weight of the food -- not the pounds it potentially puts on later.
Most weight-cutting diets include dehydration as part of the strategy, because fluids tend to be heavy for their volume. Although you want to avoid drinking more than necessary in the days before you weigh in, fluid-filled snacks can help you feel less thirsty. Fruits and vegetables are good choices -- but be sure to weigh yourself while holding your snack to make sure it won't tip the scale over the limit.
- "NCAA Wrestling Rules Book, 2010-2011"; NCAA; 2009
- "Coaching Wrestling Successfully"; Dan Gable; 1999