Here at SciFighting, our staff is constantly researching to bring you the most useful information pertaining to combat sports. One particular subject we ‘re frequently asked questions about is cutting weight for wrestling.
With the holidays approaching and wrestling season right around the corner, what better way to spend Thanksgiving than by not eating any food because you have to make weight for your next match?
As fun as wrestling can be, many things we have to do in order to prepare ourselves to “play” are not fun at all. The most arduous duty of a wrestler is without a doubt making weight. There’s no sugarcoating it, it’s terrible: the feeling of an empty stomach so hollow it wants to eat itself, the dry throat, the weary eyes, the desiccated facial skin…it all sucks pretty bad. Even so, there are certain steps you can take to alleviate some of the misery that goes with cutting weight.
Planning ahead is paramount for cutting weight. Decide what weight class you would like to compete at ahead of time. And by “ahead,” I mean a couple of months, not a couple of weeks before the season starts. Some states require certification tests to determine the minimum weight class you will be eligible for. These tests are usually based on height, weight, body fat percentage, and hydration. Begin working toward your goal as soon as possible.
One of the main advantages of cutting weight ahead of time is maintaining as much muscle mass as possible while shredding unwanted body fat. This will give you an edge in strength over your competitors who wait until the last minute. However, when you begin your weight cutting journey, be cautious not to over do it early on. If you lose too many pounds too quickly, your body might be losing much needed muscle instead of burning fat. Establishing a healthy pace of weight reduction is vital to your success.
This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people get this part wrong. As a wrestler, you want to eat foods that are abundant in protein, fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and complex carbohydrates. Avoid foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, simple carbs and sodium. Consuming foods high in sodium should be minimized because it causes your body to retain more water.
Here’s a list of some great foods for wrestlers:
- Chicken (grilled and skinless)
Oatmeal with skim milk or water with a side of egg whites makes for a healthy breakfast. Also, any pasta, rice, or bread you eat should be WHOLE WHEAT. Eating some organic peanut butter on a piece of whole wheat bread as a meal replacement before a workout is a great idea, but it must be ORGANIC peanut butter.
Additionally, don’t drink alcohol. Wrestling season is not the time for partying. Among other things, alcohol is not good for protein synthesis. You want your body to be in the best condition possible, so you shouldn’t be consuming any alcoholic beverages.
CUT WATER WEIGHT
Put on some sweats and hop on a stationary bike, elliptical, treadmill, or go jogging. It’s important to note that this is merely a short term weight loss method; most of the weight you lose will be only water. You should begin this process a few days before a match in order to deplete your body of unnecessary water weight. There’s no point in sweating out a bunch of pounds months or weeks before a deadline. It’s also important to begin reducing your water intake while doing this, or you’ll just drink up the pounds you labored so hard to sweat out. Do not gorge yourself with tons of water and then think you can sweat it all out the night before. That’s very strenuous and mentally exhausting.
A way you can make this process easier on yourself is by recording how much weight you lose in your sleep. Some people drop one to two pounds after a full night’s rest. Weigh yourself before you sleep, and weigh yourself in the morning prior to eating breakfast. Do this multiple times to get an idea of the average amount your body shreds while your snoozing.
Sitting in a sauna with a sweatsuit on is another popular method of cutting water weight but has been known to be very dangerous. Wearing a constricting sweatsuit and trapping yourself in a small room at dangerously high temperatures will cause your body to sweat at an unnaturally high rate. If too much water evacuates your body in a short period of time while your overheating, the results can be fatal. I would never recommend this method of weight cutting to anyone.
Finally, if all else fails, and you still have five to six pounds to lose the night before a match, taking some natural laxatives to clean some extra junk out of your bowels can help. This should only be done as a last resort. Ask a doctor or health professional for guidance before using these, and make sure to follow their instructions carefully.
When done properly, these methods are the safest ways to cut weight. Some wrestlers go to extreme lengths to make weight and do things that are very deleterious, such as: vomiting, wearing a sweatsuit in the sauna for prolonged periods of time, and going days without any food or water. Cutting weight, when done the right way, should make you feel miserable, but not like it’s going to kill you. If you find yourself fainting, feeling dizzy, or having difficulty breathing, that means your body is being pushed too far. Even fainting just once is too much. If any of these events occur, you need to stop and immediately tell a health professional.