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Sports Nutrition for Wrestlers

Written by Ben Bunting BA(Hons), PGCert, S&C Trainer.

Do you know how to improve muscle strength in a healthy way?

If you are a wrestler or aspiring wrestler and you want the best results, then you should learn how to increase muscle strength and endurance through nutrition.

This article will help you in the process.


Wrestling is a form of grappling which is both a professional sport, an amateur sporting event, but is no longer an Olympic event.

In wrestling, points are scored by touching the opponent’s body or the mat and immobilizing them or forcing your opponent to touch the ground on their back.

The sport evolved out of ancient Greco-Roman and Middle Eastern forms of martial arts in which the objective of combat was to throw or takedown the other person for a point.

Points are also scored by holding the opponent near the ground, in a strangle or headlock grip.

However, if the opponent was used as a leverage force, such as turning him on his back, he receives one point. The sport is not organized or sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee.

There are several varieties of the sport, including the freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman style. Wrestling has been an Olympic event since 1860, though it is currently contested only at the African American, Asian and Junior Pan-American Games.

The World Wrestling Championships, held every year, is the highest-level international competition in the sport.

The NCAA Wrestling Championships have been held for US colleges and schools since the sport became an NCAA-sponsored sport in 1937 and have been contested for US high schools since the sport was added to the National High School Coaches Association sponsored tournament in 1933.

What is WWE?

WWE came out with a revolutionary new idea in 2013. It would now be possible to watch live professional wrestling on TV without the hassle of complex scheduling, long drives, and the need to attend live events.

The growing popularity of UFC paved the way for WWE to launch their own TV streaming service called the WWE Network.

The Network offers fans in over 150 countries access to Raw and SmackDown Live episodes, pay-per-views, and documentaries with the bonus of monthly subscription.

What is All Elite Wrestling?

Founded by CEO, GM, and Head of Creative Tony Khan, AEW is a new professional wrestling league.

For the first time in many years, AEW is offering an alternative to mainstream wrestling, with a roster of world-class talent that is injecting new spirit, freshness, and energy into the industry.

Importance of Sports Nutrition for Athletes

Some of the reasons athletes are triggered to wrestling as a sport are weight loss and strength/power gains.

If implemented properly, wrestling can promote muscle strength improvements.

However, wrestlers should not neglect the importance of nutrition. Many athletes sometimes make the mistake of ignoring the importance of performance nutrition and then partake in strategies that do not yield the expected results.

The performance nutrition guidelines below should be implemented by wrestlers at all levels of the sport, as well as nonathletes who want to improve their strength and power.

Following these guidelines can help to enhance the wrestler’s performance as well as assist him/her in reaching the next level.

Sports Nutrition for Wrestlers

First, you must understand the culture and demands of the sport for the importance of training and good nutrition.

Wrestlers and fighters cut weight for competition to gain an advantage. In the end, having the largest competitor in your weight class can make all the difference between winning or losing the match.

In weight-based wrestling, athletes must be very mindful of their nutrition strategies before, during and after competitions.

The right nutrition plan can ensure adequate carbohydrates, proteins, and fats at the right time to maximize sports performance and the health of your body.

For optimal performance, student wrestlers should consume a meal composed of complex carbohydrates, protein and/or some dietary fats within three to four hours before their match.

With competition time approaching, it is important to choose low-fiber, simple carbohydrate foods that digest faster but still provide fuel to optimize energy levels without causing stomach upset.

Despite its variety of forms, wrestling is generally considered to be a combat sport between two individuals of the same weight class. The majority of wrestling in the United States is considered Folkstyle or Scholastic wrestling.

Youth, high school, and college students typically exhibit this form. Some traditional wrestling techniques award athletes points for multiple offensive and defensive manoeuvres like takedowns, escapes, and reversals.

Macronutrient requirements for Wrestling

It is essential that you have an appropriate sports nutrition plan in order to be able to sustain the energy demands of training.

There is a significant amount of energy required to outmanoeuvre opponents physically and mentally on the wrestling mat.

In determining macronutrient and energy intake, it is important to consider both the energy needed on competition day as well as the months leading up to training.


Carbohydrates are critical to the performance of the wrestling athlete.

You can get energy from this nutrient when you need to take down, escape, or outmanoeuvre an opponent.

Glycogen, a carbohydrate stored in muscle, is responsible for high intensity activities occurring within one minute of a match.

Your body relies on carbohydrates as fuel to fuel its performance.

In addition to the type of competition and intensity, volume and training level, carbohydrate requirements will vary each day.

In general, carbohydrate intake is between 5 and 7 grams per kilogram of body weight, per day during training and competition.

For a 150-pound (68 kg) high school wrestler, 340- 476 grams of carbohydrate will be consumed throughout the day.


Protein plays a vital role in the body’s ability to build muscles and maintain other tissues. Additionally, it supports immune health.

It is important for wrestlers to consume enough protein every day to support the muscle breakdown that occurs during training and competition.

There are typically around 1.2 – 1.7g of protein daily per kilogram of bodyweight.

Protein is 7 grams per kilogram of body weight. A 150-pound (68-kilos) high-school wrestler would consume between 82 and 116 grams of protein per day.


A wrestler should also incorporate fat into their diet.

In addition to providing energy, it also supplies essential fatty acids, protects organs, and provides warmth.

Each student athlete should aim to gain around one gram of fat per kilogram of body weight per day, although that amount varies from one athlete to another.

A 150-pound (68 kg) wrestler would weigh 68 grams per day.


Food and fluids consumed earlier will provide energy and help wrestlers maintain healthy hydration levels during competition.

During matches, as well as between matches, sports drinks are great options since they are packed with simple carbohydrates, fluid, and electrolyte all in one.

Chocolate milk is another great post-competition refuel beverage that provides the carbohydrate, protein, fluid, and electrolytes to reenergize after long-term activity.

Micronutrients for Wrestlers

Vitamins and minerals are necessary for many metabolic processes in the body and are important in supporting growth and development.

In addition to physiologic requirements, vitamins and minerals are essential for numerous physical and mental functions, such as energy, carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism, oxygen transfer, and tissue repair.

Micronutrients of Interest

To metabolise carbohydrates in to energy, the body needs thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and pantothenic acid, as well as minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc.

In order for red blood cells to be formed and provide oxygen to the muscle cells we need iron, copper, B6, B12 and folate.

Zinc is essential for carbon dioxide elimination from muscles and lactate conversion.

Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and other minerals neutralize reactive oxygen species and prevent free radical damage.

Vitamin D shouldn’t be ruled out. Particularly if you live in a climate that doesn’t get a lot of sunshine or train, compete, and do other activities indoors.

Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium, reduce inflammation, promote good bone health and testosterone production.


Adopting sports nutrition principles to any athlete can produce excellent performance improvements.

Ensure that you get the basics covered with the macronutrients (Carbs, protein, fats, and hydration). When these macronutrient sources are carefully chosen your micronutrients should also be covered.

Adopt a ‘food first’ approach, but if you are involved in a very stressful training regime consider using a supplement to avoid any deficiencies.

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