According to a study from The Physician and Sports Medicine, 37% of the wrestlers were not meeting their recommended calorie and nutrition intake allowance. Nutrition is essential to Wrestlers, especially if they want to perform at full performance. However, this leads to many questions, such as whether they should eat before a match and, if they should, what foods they should eat.
Generally speaking, wrestlers should not eat right before a match since it doesn’t give enough time for the stomach to digest the food, which can cause people to vomit while in a match. Thus, it is recommended for wrestlers to eat 1-3 hours before a match to allow their stomachs to digest the food.
This blog post will discuss when wrestlers should and shouldn’t be eating. We would also look at the foods they should eat and drink to achieve maximum performance based on scholarly journals and studies.
Should Wrestlers Eat and Drink Before Wrestling?
As a general rule, wrestlers should eat and drink 1-3 hours before a match, giving enough time for their body to digest and absorb its nutrients. Furthermore, it is recommended that wrestlers eat during this time frame to achieve peak performance while in a match.
Of course, weigh-ins are a different story.
Generally speaking, wrestlers shouldn’t eat before weigh-ins since they need to fit into their respective weight classes. However, people who do not have problems with weight control can eat low-calorie foods such as berries, soups, eggs, oats, and fish.
Also, diet before weigh-ins has a minimal impact on the actual match. What matters are the things we eat after the weigh-in.
Most wrestlers go on a diet before a match, and some don’t eat solid foods for some time to lose a lot of weight.
Thus, after weighing in, it isn’t recommended to binge eat as it could overwork your digestive system.
The best start is slowly refilling the lost water weight by drinking water. The question is, how much?
Wrestlers should drink water at 0.1 ounces per pound (6ml per kilogram) before a match to refill the water they lost during their diet. It is also a good idea to drink water with electrolytes after weigh-ins.
A study from the European Journal of Fitness, Nutrition and Sports Medicine found that Consuming electrolytes from energy drinks 10-60 minutes before exercise can improve focus, alertness, anaerobic performance, and aerobic exercise performance.
This means we can perform better if we refill our lost electrolytes before a match.
Of course, drinking water with electrolytes doesn’t have any calories or energy we could use for matches.
Thus, after drinking water, it is time to refill our bodies with proper nutrition before the match.
However, do not eat anything 30 minutes before a match as there might not be enough time to digest them, which can cause people to vomit.
Also, do not over-eat, as it might cause people to crash and feel lethargic.
I know how tempting it is to eat a lot after dieting, but it would only decrease our performance before the match.
Eating after a weigh-in and before a match is crucial because we need to have enough calories for maximum strength and endurance.
According to the University of Rochester, a 160lb person loses 432 calories per hour of wrestling. Therefore, we must find a way to store this many calories before a match.
Thus, what foods should we take 1-3 hours before a Wrestling match? Let’s talk about that next.
What should Wrestlers Eat Before a Match?
The best foods to eat before a wrestling match are foods that have low to medium glycemic indexes, such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, unrefined grains, raw fruits, and lean meat. Some partially processed foods such as Peanut Butter and Fruit Jam work. High glycemic index foods such as mashed potato or boiled rice should be avoided.
It is worth noting that we should stay away from high glycemic index foods as many research papers report a decrease in athletic performance from eating these foods. We will talk about these studies later.
According to the glycemic index foundation, High glycemic index foods have a glycemic index of more than 70.
Here is a simple table summary of a low, medium, and high glycemic index food.
|Low Glycemic Index
|55 or less
|Medium Glycemic Index
|56 – 69
|High Glycemic Index
|70 or more
So, what are examples of high GI foods?
Here are examples of High Glycemic Index foods to avoid according to Harvard Medical School:
|Average Glycemic Index
|Boiled White Rice
|White wheat bread
This doesn’t mean that wrestlers should avoid all these foods altogether. This means that they shouldn’t eat these foods before a match.
A study from the Journal of Applied Physiology found a significant improvement in exercise time when a moderate-GI meal is ingested 45 min before exercise.
This study was a very impressive study looking at not only the athlete’s performance but also blood tests and muscle analysis.
In fact, a separate study supports this.
A study from the Department of Sports Science at Kyushu Kyoritsu University found that ingestion of a high carbohydrate, low glycemic index meal improved sprint performance in female athletes.
Thus, aside from staying away from high glycemic index foods, we should focus on eating low to moderate GI foods.
But what are examples of this food? Let’s go back to some examples shown by Harvard Medical School.
Alright, that’s a lot, and there are more foods than the ones on this table.
So, here is a general rule.
Wrestlers should eat low to medium glycemic index foods before a match, such as beans, vegetables, fruits, and meat, for better performance.
Here are some meal examples wrestlers should eat before a match.
- Eggs (poached/scrambled/boiled), spinach, avocado, wholegrain/sourdough toast
- Bircher muesli, Greek yogurt, berries
- Smoothie with fresh fruit, mall handful of nuts or seeds, spinach/kale (Any vegetable of choice)
- Omelet with spinach, mushrooms, and tomato, wholegrain/sourdough toast
- Wrap, lean meat or cheese, salad
- Garden salad, roast vegetables, mixed legumes, chopped almonds
- Garden salad, grilled chicken or tinned tuna or tofu, drizzle extra virgin olive oil
- Vegetable soup, ham and cheese toast on wholegrain/sourdough bread
- Grilled lean meat, chargrilled vegetables, or salad
- Grilled fish with baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, and asparagus
- Curries made with lean meat, milk, and lots of vegetables
With these foods, you can expect peak performance in your matches based on Scientific studies. Good luck!
What’s next? If you like watching Wrestling matches, did you notice the blood and injuries are becoming rarer? What caused this? Is the blood we are seeing on those pro wrestling matches real? If you’re interested in finding these out, you may check this post: Are the blood and injuries of Pro Wrestling Real?
Scholarly Article References:
- Steen, S. N., & McKinney, S. (1986). Nutrition Assessment of College Wrestlers. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 14(11), 100–116. https://doi.org/10.1080/00913847.1986.11709226
- Tambalis, K. (2022). THE EFFECT OF ELECTROLYTES AND ENERGY DRINKS CONSUMPTION ON ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE – A NARRATIVE REVIEW. European Journal of Fitness, Nutrition and Sport Medicine Studies, 3(1). doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.46827/ejfnsm.v3i1.127
- Kirwan, J. P., O’Gorman, D., & Evans, W. J. (1998). A moderate glycemic meal before endurance exercise can enhance performance. Journal of Applied Physiology, 84(1), 53–59. https://doi.org/10.1152/jappl.19220.127.116.11
- Goto, H. (2016). Ingestion of High Carbohydrate Meal with Low Glycaemic Index improves Repeated Sprint Performance in Elite Adult Female Soccer Players.