REACTOR WRESTLING CLUB
WEIGHT MANAGEMENT GUIDE:
No other sport creates as much weight awareness among athletes as wrestling. Every person that has participated in wrestling has entertained the notion that if they were to move down to the next lower weight class that they could win more matches. This may be true in some cases. Unfortunately, this may result in reckless dietary and nutritional behavior in the pursuit of victory. This can be counterproductive and lead to adverse health effects and poor performance long term.
The RWC discourages “CUTTING WEIGHT” by the use of a sweat box, rubberized weight reduction suits, saunas or any similar process that induces excessive sweating for rapid weight loss. The use of these devices is strictly prohibited by all wrestling governing bodies and will be enforced in our club.
The responsibility for a successful and safe approach to weight control lies equally with the wrestler, his coach and his parents. Any organized plan to accomplish weight control must be based on fact, not fad. Sound nutritional information must be the basis for any plan. A wrestler should manage their weight with maximal performance in mind.
Coaches have additional resources available if a wrestler is concerned about weight issues.
The RWC Philosophy
Body Composition is Key
The wrestler with the largest percentage of usable weight is in the best condition to compete. Usable weight in wrestling means muscle weight. We will strive to have the low body fat percentages and high lean muscle mass compositions to be best prepared for competition.
Eating high fat low quality foods to excess will lead to an increase in the weight and fat content. This increases weight without providing benefit to the wrestler. Conversely a healthy diet that has insufficient calories will lead to muscle wasting and loss of lean body mass. Both of these situations will lead to decreased performance and a competitive disadvantage.
That is why a good weight control plan should be as much a concern as our preparation of technique or conditioning or any other aspect of a wrestling program
To set up a weight control plan, the following factors must be determined:
1) The wrestler’s body composition
2) The wrestler’s ideal competitive weight
3) A long-term plan for reaching and maintaining the ideal weight
4) Sensible eating habits that promote caloric regulation and still provide all essential nutrients
The human body is composed of lean tissue (muscle, bone, blood, organs) and fat tissue. Fat tissue can be divided into essential fat which protects vital organs (about 5% in men, 10% in women) and nonessential fat. Athletes who are well conditioned tend have a low percentage of body fat. Body composition can be determined using skinfold test. Please ask the coaches about options. Research studies suggest that wrestlers should strive to maintain a level of 5% to 12% body fat; the optimum performance for wrestlers being from 7% to 10%.
Before a wrestler can determine how much (if any) weight they need to lose to reach their ideal weight, they must know their body composition. If the percentage of body fat is already between 7-10%, the wrestler is probably at or near their ideal wrestling weight. It would be foolish to try to lose 5-10 pounds to qualify for the next lower weight class. Losing more weight would weaken the wrestler and have an adverse effect on performance.
This is particularly important for youth wrestlers who are in a very active growth phase and need to have a higher fuel intake.
If the wrestler’s body fat level is higher than it should be, the wrestler should begin a sensible reduction program to bring it down. Losing weight properly takes discipline and patience. The most healthful way to accomplish weight loss is to maintain or increase exercise while reducing food intake. Starvation and crash diets are not effective because muscle tissue begins to break down. As a result, some of the weight loss will come from muscle mass (usable weight), leaving the wrestler with reduced strength. Using any type of dietary weight loss pills is prohibited on the club.
To lose fat weight, wrestlers need to reduce the number of calories they consume while maintaining or increasing their conditioning program. For each pound of fat a wrestler wants to lose, they need to eliminate 3500 calories from their diet. To lose 2 pounds in one week, for example, requires an energy deficit of 7000 calories or 1000 calories per day. That is a lot of calories to remove from a wrestler’s diet at a time when they need increased energy. A better way to lose two pounds is to eat 500 fewer calories each day and burn an additional 500 calories each day for a week. However, under no circumstances should male athletes consume fewer than 1800-2000 calories per day.
Good nutrition is absolutely essential to a growing athlete. Bone growth, in particular, may be especially sensitive to the effects of bad nutrition caused by starvation and crash diets.
Weight management should start early. Weight loss or weight gain is most effectively and safely accomplished gradually rather than quickly. This means knowing the weight class in which the wrestler intends to compete and starting a program of nutrition and workouts designed to help the wrestler achieve his ideal body composition.
Crash dieting, starvation, Yo-yo dieting and dehydration techniques will make a good wrestler become an average wrestler when it comes to match time.
It makes much more sense to restructure the wrestler’s eating and exercise habits on a permanent basis. Just as a car runs best with a full tank of the proper fuel, a wrestler’s body will perform at its maximum when it is filled with the right ‘nutritional fuel.
FUEL YOUR REACTORS
Use common sense and good judgement throughout the season to achieve the optimum percentage of body fat of 7-10% to determine the body fat and weight class that is best for the wrestler.
The following tips should help the wrestler achieve a safe and rewarding season:
1) Eat three balanced meals a day in moderate portions. Try to include foods from all the major food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, meat/fish, milk/cheese
2) Avoid high fat, high sugar foods and snacks such as chips, soft drinks, mayonnaise, candy bars, desserts
3) Emphasize foods that are high in complex carbohydrates such as cereals, rice, pasta, breads, baked potatoes, muffins, and vegetables
4) Use skim milk instead of whole milk. Substitute diet drinks for regular, high sugar soft drinks. Better yet, drink water or fruit juices. Drink 8 glasses of water daily.
5) Do not snack between meals. If you must snack, eat fresh vegetables or fruit.
6) Stick to your diet and workout program and you will get the results you want. It takes time to accomplish your goals. Be patient.
7) Remember: Good nutrition is something a wrestler must apply each day throughout the season and not just the day before a match. If a wrestler takes short cuts, expect to pay the price in reduced performance.
The Reactor Wrestling Club does not encourage or condone excess or severe weight loss. If you or someone you know is having difficulty with weight based issues please feel free to talk to the coaches for help and guidance.