Once you’ve made weight, the final piece of the puzzle is properly refueling before you wrestle. Keep in mind that it all starts with having a solid Wrestling Nutrition plan.
There are a couple of things that factor in to this process, but the first consideration is time.
The last thing you want is to have a stomach full of fluid and food when you step on the mat.
So learning how to time things for yourself is a big key.
Anyway, listen, I’m here to tell you that there isn’t a magic formula of X% fat, X% protein, and X% carbs that’s going to make you feel like a million bucks before you wrestle.
It’s such an individually specific thing.
And that’s the big secret- eat and drink whatever you’re comfortable with.
Keep in mind, by comfortable I mean what your body tolerates well (doesn’t leave you gassy and bloated) and doesn’t leave you feeling full and immobile.
This goes for both food and drink.
So basically my suggestion is to try different things but track everything!
Keeping track of what you’re eating after weigh-ins and how you feel and perform is crucial. Ultimately you want to have this down to a science by the time you get to the big tournaments at the end of the year.
This is something I never did and I’m sure it hurt me.
I’d eat different things after each weigh-in. I never really put much thought into what I ate and how it affected my performance.
Now it’s a completely different story.
I’m always aware of what I’m eating and how it makes me feel.
Regardless of what I put in my body, I’m always analyzing how it makes me feel. I evaluate my energy levels during training sessions as well as how I feel I am recovering after.
It’s so important to do this.
In fact, here’s a quick story of just how your intake may be affecting you…
How Chicken Soup May Be Ruining Your Performance
Towards the end of the past college season, I went to Binghamton University to watch the last home dual meet against Old Dominion.
While it went very well for the team, I was a little upset to see Donnie Vinson sucking wind from the 2nd period on after putting up 10 points in the 1st.
I believe he went on to win a 12-2 decision.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a solid win, but the fact that he looked so fatigued that early in the match made me worried considering it was only a few weeks before Nationals.
That night he and I talked about the match and he told me that he was tired from the weight cut, not from a lack of conditioning. I asked him some questions about his diet and found out he had eaten chicken soup the night before.
I explained to him how things like sodium and dairy promote water retention and bloating and that’s why he had to work harder than normal the day of the match to make weight.
So he implemented some of the diet strategies I covered in Cutting 102 and had a much easier time making weight for Conferences.
In fact, he wrestled that same opponent in the Conference Finals and teched him early in the 2nd period.
He then went on to finish 7-1 at Nationals and took 3rd Place.
Now I’m not here claiming that his success was due to the fact that he monitored his sodium and cut out drinking milk.
But it does show you that little things like this can make a difference.
As you know, the last thing you want is to be gassed going into the 2nd or 3rd period in a major match.
So controlling everything that you can is of the utmost importance when it comes to making weight and refueling.
…Ok, back to the topic of refueling
I’m sorry to do this, but like I said before, I don’t have a secret meal. Instead, here are some basic tips to consider.
1. Try to limit yourself to 32oz of water/other liquids per hour after weighing-in.
This will allow your digestive system time to absorb and assimilate the fluid into your body. If you need to, start to slow down your drinking about an hour before you wrestle.
This may help to ensure that you don’t feel bloated. If you can drink at whatever pace you want up until match time, then by all means, stick with that.
2. Eat foods you know your body responds well to.
Before a fight I always pack 2-3 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Why? Because I know it won’t upset my stomach and it will provide predictable energy for me.
I’ve never gone into a fight and felt bad. However, I used to regularly not feel great when I stepped onto the mat.
You may like a certain energy bar or a specific pasta dish.
Whatever it is, always be conscious of how it’s making you feel and how it’s affecting your performance.
As a general rule, I suggest you eat a slower digesting meal.
The last thing you want is to have a big dip in energy 5 minutes before you step onto the mat.
3. Track everything.
Refueling shouldn’t be based on cravings you’re having the night before. You’re not pregnant woman, you’re a wrestler looking to have a great performance within an hour or two of stepping off the scale.
…This pic has nothing to do with this post, I’m just a huge fan of sweet treats.
If for whatever reason you’re craving something, have it after you’re done wrestling for the day. Don’t eat it after you get off the scale.
Remember- the battle is not won or lost on the scale.
The scale simply gives you the “OK” to compete in a specific weight class.
By tracking your intake you will be able to assess which food(s) your body responds to best.
Always look back at the end of a match or tournament and assess how you felt and how you wrestled. Then compare that to what you ate.
During the process you may discover foods that don’t refuel you well. But that’s what it’s all about- learning by assessment.
The ultimate goals are reached at the end of the year anyway.
That’s when you want to have a predictable refueling (and cutting) plan in place.
Anyway, let me know if you have any questions on how you can improve your refueling process by commenting below.
Why not use post practice nutrition as a testing ground for tracking food tolerability? It may not be as intense as weight cutting, but my opinion is it’s safe to assume that if it works after hard practices, it should work post weigh in.
That’s a great idea. Or pre-practice meals/intake maybe 1.5-2 hours before practice to see how your body responds and how you practice. Thanks man!
What about for 2 day weigh ins? How do you know how much to have so that you don’t get too heavy for the second day?
Great question, Austin. Multiple weigh-ins can get tricky, and, to a good extent is going to be based on how much total volume you put in your body, especially if you’re pretty dehydrated at weigh-ins. With that said, I would definitely avoid high sodium foods. Carbs can also promote water retention, but I’m not going to propose tracking these too carefully. The carbs that you eat should be as low on the glycemic index as possible, which will allow you more consistent/sustained energy. Other than that, it’s unfortunately a lot of finding the right balance between being as fueled as possible to be at your best each match and not going overboard so that you have to sweat out a bunch of weight before the 2nd weigh-in. Does this help/make sense?