by Dan Wernikoff, Certified Sports Nutritionist
Proper nutrition is essential for growth and development. When an athlete is cutting weight or not receiving the proper nutrients, their growth can be affected or even permanently stunted. A proper nutrition plan safe guards wrestlers from stunting their growth as well as against other negative impacts on the body.
A nutrition plan will provide the body with the right proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in order to keep the body growing and working efficiently. Below are some of the negative effects that cutting weight can have on a wrestlers body:
Impact of Malnutrition on Health and Development
Wrestlers who are malnourished or who have insufficient nutritional uptake experience developmental delays and breakdown in muscle tissue due to inadequate intake of protein, calories and other vital nutrients. The binge cycle of eating that most wrestlers go through when they don’t have a nutrition program often leaves their bodies lacking in a variety of key nutrients and without the amount of calories needed to maintain basic metabolic functions in the body. This leaves them at risk for a variety of short-term and long term complications.
- Compromised immune system. Wrestlers who “cut” drastic weight often are sicker and miss more school than those who are following a nutrition program.
- Temporary reduction in natural testosterone levels: This can lead to msucle weakness, reduced recovery time, moodiness and irritability.
- Decrease in cognitive functions: malnourishment can lead to short term and long term memory problems, a reduction in memory retention and slower reaction times.
- Concentration disorders: Studies have found that malnutrition can lead to concentration disorders. Wrestlers who begin cutting weight at a young age may be more predisposed to these disorders than other wrestlers who follow a healthy diet plan.
- Stunted Growth: Malnutrition not only impacts growth in the short term, but can also limit total bone growth.
- Impaired school performance: Teachers and parents report that wrestlers who are cutting weight typically are more irritable in class, fall asleep in class and experience a reduction in test scores.
These are not all of the Short-Term and Long-Term Implications of weight cutting and the malnourishment many wrestlers experience. However, they should be reason enough for parents and wrestlers to look into healthier alternatives to drastic and prolonged weight-cutting. Champion Athletes Wrestler Nutrition Program can help youth through college level wrestlers make weight and maintain weight in a healthy way without having to worry about negatively impacting their growth, grades and muscle mass.