First off, let me begin this post on wrestling nutrition with a disclaimer: I’m not a Registered Dietician.
I’m not a certified nutritionist.
And I only took a couple classes on nutrition in college.
There, are you sold on me being an authority on wrestling nutrition?!
Well, here are a couple of pictures to convince you that I have an idea of what I’m talking about.
For those of you who know my story, during that time period I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.
So that definitely contributed with some of the weight loss. However, it was my training and nutrition plan that enabled me to achieve 5% bodyfat and walk around at that level without starving or low on energy.
So how did I do it and how can I help you improve your wrestling nutrition plan?
Well, before I get into the adjustments I made, I’m going to have you take a test that was made famous by the always hilarious and super strong Jim Wendler.
True or False: Are fruits and veggies good for you?
True or False: Are fried foods bad for you?
True or False: Are lean sources of protein good for you?
True or False: Are Sweet Treats bad for you?
True or False: Are nuts, avocados, coconut oil and other healthy fats good for you?
True or False: Are refined grains and high sugar/processed foods bad for you?
If you answered “False” to any of these questions then I’m going to direct you to the video below, specifically the part about the Tack Hammer.
Ok, but seriously, the idea behind this quiz is that while nutrition can be confusing, in the grand scheme of things, making good choices is the foundation to any good wrestling nutrition plan. However, as basic as it sounds, it’s often overlooked.
So addressing principles is the first priority. You really shouldn’t be worried about what special blend of post-workout recovery powder(s) you need to drink if you’re eating McDonald’s on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, though, that’s the most common question I get asked.
Not how long I’ve lifted for.
Not how my diet looks.
Not what my program looks like.
Everyone seems to think the results come from a magical drink. But, as you probably know, there’s a lot more that goes into it.
In fact, I’ll be honest. I haven’t even begun to look at my carbs:fat:protein breakdown with my diet.
All I’ve been focused on is making sure I’m putting good meals in my body and keeping my total caloric intake in check (usually around 3000-3200 when I’m training twice a day for an upcoming fight).
And as you can see from the pictures above, it’s a solid, predictable plan that I’ve found works great for me.
Ok, so now that you’ve passed the quiz, what’s next?
Your Wrestling Nutrition Plan Steps To Success
Since you’re a big superstar graduate of Wrestling Nutrition 101, I’m now going to go into a 2 step process.
Step 1: Stop Eating Like Crap.
I had a much stronger incentive to do this because of my digestive disorder. If I ate crap, I’d get sick and in turn feel like crap (…and crap a lot).
However, there are other incentives that I’ve discovered that may help motivate you.
You’ll feel a ton better. Not immediately. In fact, you may feel worse at first. If you eat crap regularly, then that’s what your body is used to being fueled by. I’ll be honest- I felt lethargic and pretty terrible for the first week or two when I made drastic changes to my diet. However, stay consistent with the changes to your nutrition plan and give it some time. After a few weeks you’ll feel great.
You’ll have more energy. When my wife and I eat like crap now we are sluggish and don’t want to do anything. In fact, we decided to cut loose a little on Tuesday night. I had an ice cream sundae for dinner (because I love Sweet Treats) and she ate some frozen pretzels with cheese and some chicken poppers. Guess what? We didn’t feel very good after.
You’ll recover between workouts faster. I’m currently dealing with some issues with my Ulcerative Colitis and haven’t been able to workout as much. However, prior to getting sick again I was training pretty hard. I was averaging between 3-4 hours a day. I rarely felt run down, sore, beat up, and unmotivated. A proper wrestling nutrition plan will help you recover faster and as a result, you’ll get better faster.
Step 1 doesn’t need to be some massive overhaul to your current diet.
Instead, just take it in small steps.
For instance, instead of eating Lucky Charms for breakfast how about you try a high fiber cereal?
And while you’re at it, maybe throw in a piece of fruit or a handful of raw nuts.
See, it’s not that hard to make improvements.
And guess what?
If you’re in a situation where you can’t make the best eating decision you’re not going to completely negate the effects of your diet.
Just focus on doing the best you can and continually strive to make improvements in your diet.
Step 2: Learn To Count Calories.
I know what you’re thinking…
“Dickie, I know of a lot of diet plans that say you don’t need to count calories. Why shouldn’t I just follow one of those?”
Answer- because when you have a diet that you are marketing to 300+ pound Large Americans who eat fast food for every meal there’s no need to worry about small details like counting calories.
I didn’t count calories when I first started my plan. However, once I got settled in with meals that I felt good eating, eventually I needed to. Why?
I don’t care how clean you’re eating. If your taking in more calories than you’re burning you’re not going to get leaner following your wrestling nutrition plan.
Want more proof?
Insert image of any bodybuilder ever.
…No, that’s not a typo. I just don’t feel like putting a bunch of pics of huge dudes in thongs on my blog.
But seriously, bodybuilders are some of the most regimented dieters ever.
Besides, getting leaner there is one big benefit to counting your calories- you have a record you can look back to.
Why is this important?
Maybe you had low energy in the wrestling room on a certain day. You can look back and see what you ate and how many calories you had before practice. You can use this info and compare it to days you’ve had great practices.
Maybe you feel beat up and sore a couple days after a lift. You can look back and see what you ate and what your calories were to get a good idea of how this may be affecting you.
Maybe you haven’t gained or lost weight for the last 2-3 weeks. You can look back and see how many calories you were averaging.
I’ll be honest, it’s a pain in the ass when you first start. However, once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature. In fact, you’ll find that you eat a lot of the same things on a regular basis, which makes tracking even easier.
Here are some things that I use to help get you started:
Calorie Counter– You can use any one you want. I just searched Google and found this.
Excel Worksheet– This is the exact Excel file my super talented wife built for me. I’ve included a sample day to give you an idea of how I record things.
Supertracker– recommended below in a comment left by Oliver, a Nutrition & Food Science Masters student at Hunter College. Here’s a quick video on how to use it:
Alright, that’ll wrap things up for today.
One more quick reason to track your foods/Cals that I may write about in a future post- food allergies/sensitivities.
You may not respond well to certain foods (from a digestive standpoint). For instance, I’ve found that when I eat gluten I get bloated, gassy, and generally feel like crap. I’ve also found that when I’m having issues with my Ulcerative Colitis, gluten makes the symptoms worse.
How did I find these things out?
You guessed it- by tracking and monitoring my diet.
Anyway, please leave me comments below with any questions you may have about wrestling nutrition.