fighter diet guidelines
I am not a dietician but a dietician is not a fighter, nor would they know the diet of the best fighter. It goes without saying that a wrestler’s diet is one of the most important elements in wrestling, considering how many of us lose weight throughout our careers.
During the last few months of my competitive career, there were only a few days when I didn’t write down my weight each morning, what I ate, and how much I exercised. By the end, I was using my early days as a role model two or three days before a match. Despite the craziness, the idea worked. Below, I’ll show you a few sample pages of my fighter’s diet, but it’s important to remember that everyone’s body is different. If for some reason the wrestler’s diet that worked for me doesn’t work for you, keep experimenting. Note that experimentation is best done in the off-season.
Fighter’s Diet Generalizations
First of all, in the diet of any fighter, the drink of choice should be water. It’s the best way to stay hydrated. Water is like the gasoline in our car, without it we cannot run. On match days, we should go from full to half tank, not half empty.
Drinking a sports drink when you can is also important in a fighter’s diet. The general rule of thumb is to drink only one if he’s exercised for more than an hour. The problem is that sports drinks don’t go through your system as quickly as water, so you have to be careful with them. The only other beverage I drank was green or white tea with no additives like sugar or milk. However, at first he was not a big fan of tea; Gradually, over time, I grew to love it and still drink at least two cups a day. Tea is high in antioxidants and a natural diuretic that helps fluids pass through your system faster.
A good guideline to follow is to stay hydrated as long as possible, as my weight loss post pointed out. I wouldn’t start to stop drinking water until the day before the weigh-in. In high school this is very difficult as weigh-ins occur almost every other day. That’s why I advise high school wrestlers to always move up a higher weight class than they intend. If more wrestlers focused on wrestling in high school instead of what weight class and who they have to dodge, they’d be much better prepared for the sport in college. More high school students continue to grow, and losing weight impedes that process. I made the mistake of sucking in too much weight on my wrestler diet in high school and it messed up my metabolism.
You should make your own food as much as possible, so you know exactly what you are eating. There aren’t many places where you can get a well balanced meal, including the advertised healthy places. Making your own food is the smartest (and cheapest) way to live when you’re on a fighter’s diet. If you live alone and are having trouble in the kitchen, buy a healthy cookbook to help you get started.
Recommended foods of the fighter’s diet
Any vegetables, fruit (helps you stay hydrated), yogurt with live active cultures, egg whites (whole eggs are okay once in a while), nuts, almonds, granola, oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread, chicken (baked or grilled), brown rice (not the Chinese food type), quinoa (another grain), beans (if from a can, rinse then re-season), tuna (rinse), shrimp (not fried ) and veggie burgers. Those foods basically made up my diet during the season excluding the meals out our team shared after certain games.
I also limited my sodium intake as much as possible by never adding salt to anything. Destemming vegetables is the best way to cook them. The main ingredients of almost all my dishes were extra virgin olive oil, onion and garlic.
Stay away from all kinds of fast food when on a fighter’s diet during the season. “Diet” stuff, like soda, isn’t the best option either. It’s better to drink sugar and burn it off than to drink diet soda and watch TV. Of course, there are certain food vices that we all have. Mine was frozen yogurt, teddy grahams, fruit snacks, baked cheetos, and hot sauce. The hot sauce was essentially the only added sodium I was allowed to have. Do not deny yourself your food vices completely, otherwise you will go crazy. In our contemporary supermarkets there are many options to get your “fix”. If it’s cookies, you can buy 100 calorie packets. If it’s chocolate, eat a few blocks a day. Wrestlers burn so many calories that it’s not the end of the world if they ditch the wrestler diet once in a while.
Below is a copy of what I ate five days before a game (I number the cups of green tea I drank; too many kept me up all night) and was the fattest of the entire season on this particular day:
Fighter Diet Sample Day 1:
Monday 02/04/08…154.8 Fat Disgrace
drank a lot of water
Chewed 2 pieces of gum throughout the day (5 calories each)
8:35 – Strawberry Oatmeal with real strawberries and 2% milk
9:25- Cup of green tea 1
10:30 – Banana
12:20- PBJ with Walnuts on Whole Wheat Bread, 100 Calorie Hostess Cakes
12:30pm – 100 Calorie Yogurt
12:40 – cup of green tea 2
2:20- some granola with a slice of my homemade healthy pumpkin pie
2:25- 7 baby carrots
3:00- cup of white tea 3
6:45- ½ Gatorade, 1.5 Bowls of Berry Berry Kix with 2% milk I drank
6:55- Fruit snack 80 calories
8:30- 90 calorie granola bites
8:40 – 250 Calorie Animal Crackers
10-10:40- 40 minutes of the Stairmaster at maximum speed, that is, level 20 Fat Burner Plus, (two intervals of twenty minutes, with a rest of 1 minute between them)
11:00 – ½ Gatorade
As you can see, he still ate a lot of food even when he was overweight. We had gone out to dinner the night before and my stomach took over my brain. It happens, the key is not to panic. Weight is one thing that can be fixed. I was constantly eating on my fighter diet and it kept my engine running. Monday and Tuesday were extremely busy for me as I had work from 9 to 2, practice from 4 to 6, class from 7 to 10. Otherwise, I would have worked out in the morning too. The following is an example of what I ate the day before a game:
Fighter Diet Sample Day 2:
Cut off the water intake
8:35- Oatmeal with some nuts mixed with 2% milk
8:45 – shot of G2 Gatorade
9:20- cup of green tea 1
11:00- 1 Lindt milk chocolate truffle, one orange
12:00- Balance Bar (200 calories) Pita Chips (140 calories)
12:05 – Gum
12:55 – Banana
3:00 – 100 Calorie Congratulations, ½ PBJ on WW Bread, 100 Calorie Hostess Muffins, Handful of Craisins
6:30- 2 kiwis, 2 oranges
6:50- Granola Frozen Yogurt, Handful of Almonds, 90 Calorie Granola Bites, 100 Calorie Kudos, Sip of Gatorade G2
9:30-10:10- 40 minutes Stairmaster to the max
10:35- sip Pedalite, sip G2 Gatorade
Now go find the best fighter diet for your body.