Wrestlers, with their constant power exercise and high calorie consumption, need a special diet. Among such diets, some people name Ayurvedic, while it’s often considered to be a deficient type. Do Ayurveda treatments make sense for wrestlers and athletes in general? They are not as incompatible as a Westerner might think.
Indian Wrestling Cuisine Traditions
Like such an old culture should, India has its tradition of wrestling too, called pahalwani or kushti. This tradition lacks cinematic depiction like that of Japanese karate or Chinese kung-fu, but it’s quite alive in India. There are even villages where every household has at least one wrestler, and disputes are solved in spectacular respectful yet furious brawls.
Pahalwani is an ancient and layered art, including workouts, philosophy, art, and, of course, cuisine. The traditional pahalwani diet is called khurak, and while it has many variations, the basis is common. Khurak is mostly an addition, a dish made of flour, almonds, milk, and ghee butter, with sugar and various spices. One should also notice that khurak is rather an addition to everyday ration than its replacement. The everyday food of a pahalwani wrestler includes usual Indian dishes: lentils, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and so on.
What Ayurvedic Foods Are Good for Wrestlers?
Let’s start with the ayurvedic concept of three qualities of nature. The tradition has three of them:
- Sattva. This word means “calm,” and the sattva food include grains, fresh fruit and fruit juices, milk, cheese, nuts, or honey. Cow milk, though, is the pinnacle of sattva in foods.
- Rajas, or “passionate.” Rajas foods are meat, fish, vegetables, and spices, including garlic and onion.
- Tamas, or “inert.” This type of food also includes meat and fish, but also over- or underripe fruit, bread and pastries, alcohol, and mushrooms.
It would take too long to explain further meaning of this triad, so let’s simplify. The wrestler’s way of life implies long and hard exercise which generates heat. According to ayurvedic concepts, this heat should be equalized with more sattva foods. Not what a Western wrestler might expect? It doesn’t, though, mean you have to exclude all rajasic or tamasic foods, as they don’t exclude each other and sometimes even overlap. It’s the question of balance.
Should You Embrace Ayurvedic Diet?
Of course, you can try adding khurak to your everyday diet like a special addition, without changing the course. Still, you must remember that khurak was invented as an addition to a certain type of cuisine, and, combined with meat, isolate proteins, and other foods that are considered “athletic” today, this may not work as planned. Remember, it contains lots of fats which are usually minimized in Western athletic cuisine in favor of proteins and fiber. With your usual meals, it may cause a disbalance.
To Ghi or Not to Ghi?
Still, you can try making some khurak as a mostly sattvic food, with milk and nuts prevailing in the recipe. But you better consult with an Ayurveda specialist to balance your diet better. If you have a question to ask or some related experience to share, welcome to the comments: let’s spread the knowledge!