Back in high school, after day one of a grueling two-day state wrestling tournament, I stepped on the scale, exhausted. It showed I had gained seven pounds since morning weigh-ins. Almost all of this was water weight I had gained by following my ill-informed diet for wrestlers. Making weight that first day had been extremely challenging, and I knew doing it a second day in a row would be even more difficult.
My weight maintenance leading up to the tournament was lackluster, and it came back to bite me.
Cutting weight can leave a wrestler drained and dispassionate about the sport. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead and cut intelligently. Follow these five tips to trim the few pounds you need and give yourself a chance to dominate on the mat.
1. Start early
The earlier you start your cut, the better you will feel during matches. Trying to cut 15 pounds two days before a match will leave you slow and lethargic when you hit the mat. If you start to get down to weight a week or more before a match, you will feel much better on the day of the contest.
2. Consume fast-digesting protein after workouts
When your body goes without fuel for long periods of time, muscle mass inevitably decreases. Help your body maintain muscle mass by refueling after workouts with fast-digesting protein. The best options are whey protein shakes, chocolate milk and yogurt.
3. Eliminate sodium
One week before you need to make weight, cut sodium from your diet. Sodium causes the body to retain excess water, which makes you heavier but not stronger.
4. Drink water
That was not written in error. Obviously, you will have to cut water out as you get closer to the weigh-in. However, in the weeks leading up to a weigh-in, increase your water consumption. It will keep hunger away by distracting your stomach, and it will prepare your body to dump water when you start cutting.
5. Eat while you cut
So many wrestlers miss out on this, thinking that once they start to cut weight, they have to eliminate eating entirely. You need energy to cut weight. A small high-carbohydrate bar can give you energy while you cut weight.