Protein Intake for Wrestlers

Protein for Wrestlers- image of various cuts of red meat

Here are some of the important points I found regarding protein intake for wrestlers.

I read about them in a journal article entitled “Nutrition and Hydration Issues for Combat Sports Athletes”.

The Basics

Protein that you find in food and supplements is composed of amino acids.

There are 20 total amino acids.

9 are essential, meaning your body can’t make them.

11 are non-essential, meaning your body can make them.

Protein serves as the major structural component to both muscle and other tissues throughout your body. They are also used to produce hormones, enzymes, and hemoglobin. In a nutshell, protein is essential for survival.

While protein can be used to supply the body with energy, it is the least desirable source. Stored carbohydrate and fat are much more preferred by the body. If protein is used for energy production, it most likely means that the body is breaking down muscle and other lean tissue to make up for an energy deficit.

How Much Protein Per Day?

In the journal article, the authors cite a study by Tarnopolsky et al. which demonstrated that strength-trained individuals need 1.8 g/kg/day of protein.

These findings were shown to be consistent with other studies referenced in the paper. Those references cited that athletes of a similar strength training status maintained a positive nitrogen balance with between 1.4 g/kg/day and 2.4 g/kg/day.

Based on these studies, the authors concluded that wrestlers should consume protein somewhere in the range of 1.4-2.0 g/kg/day.

One of the most important issues the authors go into detail on is the fact that wrestlers, at times, restrict their daily caloric/protein intakes. The authors cite other research in their paper demonstrating that during prolonged periods of inadequate caloric intake, a higher consumption of protein helps to minimize the effects of muscle breakdown.

Based on these findings, the authors suggest that whenever a wrestler is following a low calorie diet, that their protein intake remain as high as possible.

Source of Protein

Research cited by the authors found that an increase in amino acid concentration in the blood was approximately 100% higher when compared to resting levels after the ingestion of essential amino acids.

However, amino acid concentration was only about 30% higher compared to resting levels after the subjects ingested whey protein.

Additionally, the researchers found that the delivery of the amino acids to the muscles active during exercise increased 7.5 times. However, the whey protein group only experienced a 4.4 times increase.

Obviously these findings are substantial.

The authors then provide a clue as to why these results were found. Carbohydrates were given with the amino acids and not the whey protein group. The researchers suspect (and I agree) that the addition of carbohydrates stimulated a stronger insulin response. This resulted in a higher uptake in the amino acids compared to the whey protein.

Paper Referenced

Hoffman, J., C. Maresh. Nutrition and Hydration Issues for Combat Sports Athletes. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 33(6), 10-17. December 2011.

A picture of Kyle Dake and Dickie White.
Hi, I’m Dickie (the author of this blog). Here I am with my good buddy, Kyle Dake. While he doesn't have a nice coat like me, he is pretty good at wrestling. Here's what he said about my training system:

Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

-Kyle Dake, 4X NCAA Division 1 National Champion

Want to see what other wrestlers are saying about my training system? Check out my Success Stories page.


Want to learn more about Dickie? Check out my About page.


Want to get started on a program today? Read this post and download your free program- 12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers.


3 Comments. Leave new

  • Solid post man! As a masters nutrition student, who is focusing on sports nutrition, I agree with all that is said.

    There needs to be a combination of carbs(simple) with protein in order to spike insulin for faster repletion of glycogen emptied stores, and that insulin spike will also drive more protein into the muscles for recovery.

    A separate question, what is your opinion on consuming fiber after a practice/workout?
    I believe that athletes should avoid fiber after workouts because it can slow gastric emptying and thus delay the absorption of ingested nutrients (carbs/protein).

    • Hey man, I’m glad you liked it. Didn’t have much time so just pulled a few pieces of info from a paper to stay consistent with the Tuesday schedule.

      In regards to the fiber, I definitely agree with you, although you probably have a much better understanding of it than I do. I’m far from a nutrition expert, although I’m not totally clueless either.

      Hey, when you’re done with the semester, would you be interested in writing one or a few blog posts on nutrition for wrestlers? I’d love to have some content by a seasoned wrestler who’s well educated on the subject.

      Either way, thanks for always leaving comments; it really helps add extra (and very valuable) pieces of info to the blog. Thanks man!

  • That would be great, thank you for the opportunity. Once the semester is done, we can talk about some sports nutrition topics for wrestlers that I can discuss on the blogs


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