It is that time of year. Your last league dual meet has been completed and now your focus is on League Finals and the road to state. Thanks to the two pound allowance that was administered a couple weeks ago, you are planning on dropping to the next lowest weight class. If you are going to embark on such an endeavor, you must know some simple rules of weight cutting in a healthier, yet effective manner.
Before I continue, let me be clear that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on the internet. The following is a compilation of personal experience and research conducted by yours truly. Always consult a physician before partaking in any extreme weight loss procedures.
Back to my tips for weight cutting. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you are dropping weight each week on the road to state.
- KEEP EATING.
I know it sounds crazy. You would think that the best way to lose weight is to just stop eating. You are correct, you can lose a lot of weight by simply no longer eating paired with exercise. However, that is a sure way to sap performance, and though the quick drop in weight is nice, your weight will eventually stall out.
Food is fuel, bottom line. If you want to make a car lighter, you take off the heavier pieces and replace them with lighter ones, NOT by taking out all the gasoline. Your body acts in a similar way. After those hard training sessions in the wrestling room, your body needs fuel to recover and rebuild itself in preparation for the next hard training session. Your body is broken down in the wrestling room, refueled in the kitchen, and rebuilt during sleep. I tell all my athletes to continue eating a clean diet, even if they are trying to cut weight. Simply switching to healthy foods would guarantee a quick 2-3lb drop in a week or two.
A simple guideline to follow on what to eat when cutting weight would be… i. If it comes from the ground or has a mom it is probably good for you, ii. If it has more than three ingredients, it is probably bad for you. That is a great place to start if you are looking to make some healthy changes to your diet. Keep eating, just eat till your satisfied but not full. If you need to go for a run before bed to get a little sweat going and lose .5-1lb, do so. DO NOT STARVE YOURSELF.
2. COUNT ON LOSING WEIGHT DURING SLEEP
I can imagine that this also will sound crazy. You lose weight while you sleep. If you weigh yourself before bed and check your weight in the morning, you will notice that you would have lost some weight. Finding out the average amount of weight lost during sleep is a great tool to use when cutting weight. I know I lose about 2lbs during sleep. I compete at 155lbs when I cut weight. Knowing I lose about 2lbs from sleep, I now know that the night before morning weigh ins, I need to weigh 157lbs. This is usually my weight post dinner, and after about 45 mins light jog to lose a little weight from dinner and keep my metabolism up.
You do not need to be on weight the night before weigh ins, you only need to be on weight when you step on the scale. Track your weight every day and night for a week. Find the average amount of weight lost during sleep and factor that into your target weight the night before. If you need to run laps in the arena before weigh ins to lose a pound, it is not a big deal. You can lose a pound of water weight in 30-45 mins easy.
3. RE-HYDRATE PROPERLY.
So you made weight and are walking back to the stands to eat breakfast. What you decide to eat for breakfast plays a very important role in optimizing your performance after a serious weight cut. Immediately begin consuming fluids to rehydrate. Water is obviously a given. Try drinking close to a full water bottle before eating any solid foods. Having a good amount of water in your system will help with your digestion, and immediately begin the rehydration process. Sipping on Pedialyte along with water is another popular way to rehydrate due to the high content of electrolytes. However, drink this slow. There have been some cases of people drinking it too quickly and having the sharts or runs later on in the day.
You are also going to want to consume some form of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates help you pull water into the muscles. Carbohydrates also aid in the production of glycogen which is the fuel for the muscles. When your muscles are depleted of glycogen, your performance is sapped. Ever seen someone start off really strong in a tournament, and at the end are just a shell of themselves? They will be a conditioning machine in the first few rounds of the tournament, but by their fourth and fifth match they are just gassed. Much of that is due to the lack of glycogen or fuel in the muscle. Rehydrating properly, and consuming enough carbohydrates to refuel glycogen stores is crucial for optimal performance for a long day of wrestling.
There are obviously a lot more steps involved in a safe, successful weight cut. However, I will have to dive into those another time. Hope you find these three tips helpful if you are lost during your weight cut, or if you are a seasoned wrestler familiar with the weight cutting process. If you have any more questions about weight cutting or prepping for the road to the state wrestling tournament, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram, @joshuasettlage.