A Wrestler's Diet
Wrestlers need to maintain high energy levels to fuel their intense workouts.
They also need to be conscious about controlling their weight. In order to provide
their body with fuel and nutrients and control their weight,
wrestlers need to concentrate their nutritional efforts on eating foods that are
high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. Contrary to some opinions,
wrestlers can eat a healthy, balanced diet and still control their weight.
The key is choosing low-fat, high carbohydrate foods that contain important nutrients.
The following are examples of foods that have high energy content without unwanted extra calories.
Fresh, frozen, canned or dried
Fresh, frozen, or canned. Canned vegetables are higher in sodium
which can cause additional fluid retention and added weight.
Fresh or frozen vegetables are lower in sodium and high in nutrients.
Thicker, heavier, whole-grain breads have more carbohydrates than thinner, lighter bread.
This makes them slightly higher in calories, but those are nutritious calories
that can be used for sustained energy as well as a source of vitamins and minerals.
A good goal is to eat whole-grain products one-half of the time.
Cereals and Pasta:
Adding whole milk to cereal, or fatty meat sauce to pasta greatly increases the amount of fat
calories. Eating cold cereals that are fortified with vitamins and minerals are excellent sources of energy.
Cereals high in sodium should be chosen less often than those low in sodium.
Cereals, hot or cold, except granola which is higher in fat content: Macaroni, Noodles,
Rice (white or brown), Spaghetti, Stuffing, from mix.
Choose low-fat whenever possible.
Wrestlers also need adequate amounts of protein to build, maintain and repair body cells (especially muscle tissue),
help the body resist infection, and regulate body functions.
Care should be taken to eat food containing protein that is also low in fat.
The following foods are the best choices for weight conscious wrestlers wanting moderate protein, low-fat foods.
These foods provide adequate amounts of protein for student athletes, without unwanted extra calories.
Care should be taken to choose meats that are low-fat (10% fat or less) and low-sodium.
Some processed meats may be low-fat, but they are often extremely high in sodium.
If using lean ground beef in casseroles, tacos, chili, etc., it can be rinsed with water after it is cooked.
Rinsing significantly reduces the fat calories.
Meats should be broiled, baked or grilled to keep the fat content to a minimum.
· Beef (lean such as round, sirloin or tenderloin)
· Chicken (skinless, white meat is lowest in fat)
· Luncheon Meats (95% lean, but be careful of the sodium content)
· Pork (lean such as Canadian Bacon or ham, but be careful of the sodium content)
· Tuna (water packed)
· Turkey (skinless, white meat is lowest in fat)
Wrestlers should also be sure to drink adequate amounts of low calorie beverages.
By selecting drinks that are low in calories, a wrestler can drink as much as he desires
without risk of added calories.
Drinking enough fluids to remain hydrated is essential to health and performance. Water and beverages containing nutrients are the best choices.
· Water (Minimum of 6-8, 8 ounce glasses per day)
· Milk (Minimum of 3-4, 8 ounce glasses per day)
· Juices, fruit (unsweetened) and vegetable
· Sports Drinks (diluted reduces simple intake)
· Iced Tea, unsweetened & decaffeinated
Fats and Oils:
Select dressings and oils that are fat-free, or low-calorie. Substituting equal amounts of
applesauce for cooking oil in recipes greatly reduces the calorie count.
· Fat-free or low-fat gravies
· Fat-free or low-fat mayonnaise
· Fat-free or low-fat salad dressings
· Substitutes such as Molly McButter or Butter Buds
Meats: The following foods have approximately 120-150 calories per 3 oz. service.
When cooking meat, it should be broiled, baked or grilled to keep the fat content to a minimum.
Choosing leaner cuts of meat also helps in keeping fat content low.
The following foods have approximately 50-100 calories per serving.
Adding butter, mayonnaise or margarine greatly increases the calorie content.
Fruits and vegetables vary greatly in calories, but are all low in calories compared
to most other foods. They are also complete carbohydrates with the exception of avocados,
unless they are topped with margarine, butter or high calorie dressings. They are great sources of energy.
Sources: Food Power, National Dairy Council, 1991: Health and Safety Considerations for Interscholastic Wrestling,
Ohio High School Athletic Association And Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association, 1994; Pinning Down Your
Optimal Weight: A Wrestler’s Guide to Good Nutrition, Connecticut Department of Education, 1991;
“Recommended Diet For Weight Loss, Wrestling Diet,”
The Wrestler’s Diet: A Guide to Healthy Weight Control, Roger Landry, Robert Oppliger, Ann Shelter and Greg Landry,
1991; Wrestling USA Magazine, Karen Moses, October 1, 1994:
“Wisconsin Wrestling Minimum Weight Program.” Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, 1991.