Your diet before a wrestling match should not be drastically different from your diet during the rest of the wrestling season. As long as you’re wrestling, your body needs plenty of carbohydrates and proteins. So, what should you eat before a wrestling match?
What to Eat Before a Wrestling Match?
Before a wrestling match, you should eat small amounts of protein and carbs only, such as a mix of fruit, meat, vegetables, and peanut butter. Avoid excessively fatty and sugary foods. Keep your portions small, but avoid going into the match on an empty stomach, and always stay hydrated.
This article will help you make a plan for what, when, and how much to eat before a wrestling match, so read on.
How Long Before a Match Should You Eat?
You should eat 1-3 hours before your match and after weigh-ins. Have a full dinner the night before your match and prepare a small breakfast to eat after weigh-ins the morning of. Bring some snacks with you for an energy boost throughout the day if you’re attending an all-day tournament.
If you eat too close to your match, you could feel bloated and heavy. But if you don’t eat at all, you could get lightheaded and tired.
It’s important to find a balance that makes you feel energized when it’s time for you to wrestle.
The Night Before
Dinner on the night before a match should be a full-sized meal with carbs (pasta, bread, or rice), lean meat (like skinless chicken or turkey), and vegetables. Be careful not to eat too much sodium or fat at dinner, as these will make you retain water the next day.
Don’t skip meals as a last-ditch effort to lose weight. A wrestling competition is when it is most important for you to have the nutrients and energy you need.
The Morning Of
For early morning tournaments, when weigh-ins can be as early as 7 a.m., it is typical for wrestlers not to eat until after weigh-ins. Even though you may not be eating yet, you need to stay hydrated.
There is not enough time in between weigh-ins and your match for you to fully rehydrate for the day. Try to drink at least 8 oz. of water before weigh-ins so as not to be dehydrated when you wrestle.
After weigh-ins, resist the urge to binge on fatty foods. You will feel better if you eat a small breakfast, particularly something high in carbs, along with some protein.
A peanut butter sandwich, a turkey wrap, a bagel, or a granola bar, and low-fat milk are all options that should satisfy you without making you feel worse later.
If you’re at an all-day tournament, continue to graze on snacks of fruit, nuts, and vegetables in between your matches. You should drink between 16-32 oz. of water along with your meal, especially to replace the fluids you lose from sweating.
What Foods Are Good for Wrestlers?
The best foods for wrestlers are those high in carbohydrates. Rice, pasta, bread, and potatoes are excellent choices. Pair them with salmon, chicken, or turkey (grilled or baked, not fried), and some steamed or raw vegetables, and you have a complete meal.
Carbohydrates will give you the blood sugar boost you need to perform in your match, and protein is important for building muscles.
After a match, some good foods to recover your energy are chocolate milk, low-fat yogurt, carrot and celery sticks, and low-fat granola bars.
It’s also vital that you remember to drink plenty of water during the wrestling season. You can drink Gatorade as well to replenish your electrolytes but drink mostly water.
What Foods Should Wrestlers Avoid?
Wrestlers should avoid fatty foods, but it’s impossible to eat a fully fat-free diet. Your body needs fat to function, just not in large amounts. The same goes for sodium, which is often added to foods as a preservative.
Too much sodium just before a match can make you retain water, which will increase your weight.
Reduce or completely cut out soda, energy drinks, fried food, and candy. You can replace these with healthier alternatives. Avoid soda and energy drinks because they are too sugary and not very hydrating. Stick to water and the occasional Gatorade.
Swap fried chicken for baked chicken. Eat homemade granola instead of a candy bar. If you’re craving a dessert, try eating some fresh fruit instead — fruit is packed with sugar, but it’s not fatty like ice cream.
This NewMe Fitness Journal on Amazon.com is a great tool to help you track the foods you eat and how they affect your training and energy levels. If you notice that certain foods make you sluggish, avoid them around competition time.
The Importance of Eating Enough
All wrestlers must eat properly, especially before a wrestling match. However, some wrestlers will try to lose weight to make their target weight by skipping meals. Some even dehydrate themselves by not drinking water and excessively sweating leading up to their weigh-in.
Do not fall into dangerous habits, such as the ones I have just mentioned.
Your body needs water, carbs, protein, fat, and other nutrients to function. Wrestling burns lots of calories—the University of Rochester Medical Center estimates it burns 400 calories an hour. If you don’t consume the nutrients you need to fuel your body, you will probably see a decline in your performance.
It is more important for you to be healthy than for you to reach a certain weight. Focus on being the best wrestler you can be, not on your weight class.
If you’re unsure about what foods you should be eating for your particular needs, talk to your coach or doctor for more advice.
The food you put in your body is very important around a wrestling match. Between trying to reach your target weight class and storing energy for your match, you should aim for a diet that is high in carbs and low in fat with a moderate amount of protein.
Be sure to discuss your diet plans with your coach and your doctor before making any major lifestyle changes. And always give your body the food and water it needs to survive and thrive. After all, a starving, dehydrated wrestler isn’t particularly tough competition.
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- FloWrestling.org: What to Eat Before Wrestling Practice
- Team USA: Fueling Success: Proper Tournament Day Nutrition
- Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletics Association: Wrestler’s Diet
- Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletics Association: Wrestling Nutrition Guidelines
- Long Island Wrestling Association: Maximizing Wrestling Performance Through Healthy Eating
- SPX.org: Best Wrestling Diet for Weight Loss
- SportsRD.org: Nutrition for the Wrestling Student-Athlete
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Calorie Burn Rate Calculator
- National Library of Medicine: Weight Loss Methods of High School Wrestlers