For wrestlers, diet is worth the weight

Strict daily regimen includes layering clothing, laying off fatty snacks


Wrestlers have to adhere to strict dietary guidelines, including fasting and consuming whole foods, in order to be in their desired weight class

Julia Marques da Silva, Design Director

Wrestling revolves around weight, which sometimes requires extreme dieting, exercise and practice techniques in order to meet strict weight requirements.

For each tournament, wrestlers are required to be weighed in order to determine which class of competitors they will face for the day. Their preparation primarily takes place off the wrestling mats. The athletes have to focus on their diet because it determines part of their success in competitions.

Those who cut weight to enter a lower weight class do so in order to have a strength advantage over opponents. Beginners on the wrestling team will cut a few pounds at time, while those who have been involved in the sport can successfully lose much more weight.

“Some of my teammates (are) cutting 5 pounds in a day to be able to wrestle at a lower weight class at the meet the next day,” said senior Kimberly Jenkins, who joined wrestling this year.

Boys compete in 12 weight classes, while girls compete in 13 to ensure that competitors will be wrestling opponents of the same size. These categorizations are designed to make matches closer and safer.

To gain the advantage of wrestling in a lower weight class in a tournament, wrestlers have developed specialized diets and tactics in order to shed the pounds.

Sophomore Jonathan Ciprian, who has been wrestling for five years, said it’s a simple formula of eating healthfully and avoiding snacking, in addition to layering, which helps athletes sweat more.

“It’s just eating healthy and not doing any midnight snacking,” he said.

Wearing heavy sweats is the most common way that the team loses weight. If they do need to lose extra weight a few days before, according to sophomore Lola Anderson, some teammates might go to a sauna, take a hot bath, or simply not drink water the night before. The most important part of wrestling preparation is diet.

Senior Nick Melendez, a top athlete who has been in the program for four years, keeps a specific, simple diet that allows him to lose 16 pounds in a whole season, about two pounds before each tournament. This includes oatmeal and bananas for breakfast, granola bars for lunch and chicken and rice for dinner, with lots of water throughout the day. Many of his other teammates cut out high calorie foods and replace them with vegetables and protein-packed meals.

“It’s a very strict diet and I try to cut out all junk food since it’s harder to burn off the [higher] calorie foods,” said Melendez.

Despite the strict diets, a lot of the foods that wrestlers eat give them enough nutritional value and energy to be able to perform on competition day. Fibers in fruits and vegetables allows them to feel full and limit snacking throughout the day, while complex carbohydrates such as pasta provides a lot of energy since it provides more nutrients than processed carbs such as french fries. The main struggle for some of the athletes is to maintain this diet, but the support from teammates allow them to achieve their dietary goals.

“We all know what we need to do,” said Jenkins. “So it’s just a matter of if you’re going to do it and wrestle and try your hardest to win or at least not get pinned or let the team down.”