As a wrestling parent you strive to provide your child with opportunities to perform their best. From wrestling clubs, to private lessons, to countless weekends in hot and stuffy gyms, you work hard to make sure your kid has everything they need. But did you know that the biggest difference maker for your wrestler can start right at home in the kitchen?
Pre-competition meals play a crucial role in optimizing performance for wrestlers. Proper nutrient timing and intake helps wrestlers with their energy level, endurance, strength and recovery. When it comes to providing your wrestler with the fuel they need for competition you want to keep in mind three key things: Does the food provide energy? What are the “bad” choices in terms of nutrient intake? What role does nutrient timing play in their recovery, strength and endurance?
The 3 keys to helping your wrestler:
Provides energy – without the right amount of calories and nutrients, your wrestler may not have enough energy to perform at their best or recover from their practices. Foods high in complex carbohydrates help replenish the body’s reserves of glycogen. Glycogen is the stored form of glucose found within muscle fibers and is the body’s primary source of fuel. Complete proteins are needed to repair and rebuild muscle that is broken down during exercise and to help optimize carbohydrate storage in the form of glycogen. Food choices such as peanut butter and honey sandwiches on whole wheat and protein shakes, are examples of some quick and easy meals, that you can prepare ahead of time for your wrestler for after weigh-ins or even during a tournament.
Avoid bad choices – we all make bad choices when it comes to food, but bad choices before an activity or sport and hinder performance. Foods with empty calories or lacking in proper nutrients can stop a wrestler from preforming to the best of their ability. Food choices such as greasy fast food, or sugary sports drinks, should be avoided whenever possible. Wrestlers should avoid pizza, greasy burgers, donuts and candy; all foods commonly found at wrestling tournaments! In fact these types of foods take longer to digest and will cause you to feel sluggish; a feeling no wrestler wants before they compete.
Timing – pre-competition meals should be eaten roughly half an hour to an hour before competition to allow the body to properly break down the nutrients. When the body is not given enough time to digest food, it causes the body to reserve some of the energy a wrestler needs for competition, for digestion! This can cause feelings of sluggishness, nausea and cramping. This is similar to the old saying, “wait after eating before you go swimming so you don’t get bloated.” Your body needs proper time to digest the food in order to properly break down the nutrients as well as provide energy for an intense wrestling match or practice!
So, when preparing meals or going grocery shopping for your wrestler keep in mind that you want to provide them with meals that will give them lots of energy, help them recover from workouts and matches, will teach them about making healthy choices and will be consumed at the right time. Following the three simple steps above can make all the difference in your wrestler becoming a champion.
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