Wrestler’s Diet Guidelines
I am no dietitian but a dietitian is no wrestler, nor would they know the best wrestler’s diet. It goes without saying that a wrestler’s diet is one of the more important elements in wrestling, considering how many of us actually cut weight throughout our careers.
During the final months of my competitive career there are only a handful of days that I didn’t write down my weight each morning, what I consumed and how much I worked out. By the end, I was using my earlier days as a model to follow two or three days before a match. Albeit the craziness, the idea worked. Below, I will show you a few sample pages from my wrestler’s diet, but it’s important to remember that everyone’s body is different. If for some reason the wrestler’s diet that worked for me doesn’t for you, keep experimenting. Keep in mind experimentation is best done in the off-season.
Wrestler’s Diet Generalizations
First, in any wrestler’s diet the drink of choice has to be water. It’s the best way to keep you hydrated. Water is like the gas for our car, without it, we cannot run. On match days we should be going from full to half a tank, not half way to empty.
Drinking a sports drink when you can is also important on a wrestler’s diet. The rule of thumb is only drink one if you worked out for over an hour. The problem is that sports drinks don’t go through your system as quickly as water so you have to be careful with them. The only other beverage I drank was green or white tea with no additives like sugar or milk. At first I was not a big fan of tea, however; gradually over time, I learned to love it and I still drink at least two cups of the stuff a day. Tea is high in antioxidants, and a natural diuretic which helps fluids pass through your system quicker.
A good guideline to follow is to stay hydrated as long as possible as my cutting weight post pointed out. I wouldn’t start cutting out water until the day before a weigh-in. In high school this is very tough since weigh-ins occur almost every other day. That is why I recommend high school wrestlers to always go one weight class higher than they intend to. If more wrestlers focused on wrestling in high school instead of what weight class, and who they have to dodge, they would be much better suited for the sport in college. Plus high school students are still growing, and cutting weight impedes that process. I made the mistake of sucking out too much weight on my wrestler’s diet in high school and it ruined my metabolism.
You should make your own food as much as possible, to know exactly what you’re eating. There aren’t many places where you can get a well-balanced meal, including the advertised healthy places. Making your own food is the smartest (and cheapest) way to live when you are on a wrestler’s diet. If you live on your own and have trouble in the kitchen, buy a healthy cookbook to help you get started.
Wrestler’s Diet Recommended Foods
Any vegetables, fruit (it helps hydrate you), yogurt with live active cultures, egg whites (whole eggs are fine once in a while), walnuts, almonds, granola, oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread, chicken (baked or grilled), brown rice (not the Chinese food type), quinoa (another grain), beans (if from a can rinse them off and then re-season), tuna (rinse), shrimp (not fried), and veggie burgers. Those foods basically constituted my diet during the season excluding the meals out, our team shared after certain matches.
I also limited my sodium intake as much as possible by never adding salt to anything. Stemming vegetables is the best way to cook them. The main ingredients to almost all my dishes were extra virgin olive oil, onion and garlic.
Stay away from all types of fast food when you are on a wrestler’s diet during the season. “Diet” stuff, like soda is not the best option either. It is better to drink sugar and burn it off then drink diet soda and watch TV. There are of course, certain food vices that we all have. Mine was frozen yogurt, teddy grahams, fruit snacks, baked cheetos and hot sauce. Hot sauce was essentially the only added sodium I allowed myself to have. Don’t deny yourself of your food vices completely, otherwise you will go nuts. In our contemporary supermarkets there are many options to get your “fix.” If it’s cookies, you can buy 100 calorie packs of them. If it’s chocolate, eat a few blocks a day. Wrestlers burn so many calories that it’s not the end of the world if they fall off their wrestler’s diet once in a while.
Below is a copy of what I ate five days before a match (I number the cups of green tea I drank; too many kept me up all night) and I was the heaviest all season on this particular day:
Wrestler’s Diet Sample Day 1:
Monday 2/4/08…154.8 Fat Disgrace
Drank lots of Water
Chewed 2 pieces of gum throughout the day (5 calories each)
8:35- Strawberry Oatmeal w/real strawberries and 2% milk
9:25- Cup green tea 1
12:20- PBJ w/walnuts on whole wheat bread, 100 calorie Hostess cakes
12:30- 100 calorie yogurt
12:40- green tea cup 2
2:20- a little granola with a slice of my homemade healthy pumpkin pie
2:25- 7 baby carrots
3:00- cup white tea 3
6:45- ½ Gatorade, 1.5 Bowls of Berry Berry Kix w/2% milk which I drank
6:55- Fruit Snack 80 calories
8:30- 90 calories granola bites
8:40- 250 calories of Animal Crackers
10-10:40- 40 minutes of the Stairmaster on max speed i.e. level 20 Fat Burner Plus, (two, twenty minute intervals, with a 1 minute break between)
11:00- ½ Gatorade
As one can see I still ate a lot of food even when I was overweight. We had gone out to dinner the night before and my stomach got the best of my brain. It happens, the key is to not panic. Weight is one thing that can be fixed. I constantly ate on my wrestler’s diet and it kept my engine burning. Mondays and Tuesdays were extremely busy for me as I had work from 9-2, practice from 4-6, class from 7-10. Otherwise I would’ve worked out in the morning as well. Next is an example of what I ate the day before a match:
Wrestler’s Diet Sample Day 2:
Cut Water Intake
8:35- Oatmeal w/ a few walnuts mixed w/ 2% milk
8:45- gulp of G2 Gatorade
9:20- cup green tea 1
11:00- 1 Lindt milk chocolate truffle, an orange
12:00- Balance Bar (200 calories) Pita Chips (140 calories)
3:00- 100 calorie Kudos, ½ PBJ on WW bread, 100 cal hostess muffins, handful of Craisins
6:30- 2 kiwis, 2 oranges
6:50- Frozen Yogurt w/granola, handful of almonds, 90 cal granola bites, 100 cal kudos, sip G2 Gatorade
9:30-10:10- 40 mins Stairmaster on max
10:35- sip Pedalite, sip G2 Gatorade
Now go find the best wrestler’s diet for your body.