By Brendon Lowe
Checking the forum recently I have seen a few inquiries about dropping weight for next season. My response to that…. “THE SEASON IS SEVEN MONTHS AWAY!” Do I feel that a wrestler should be losing body fat right now? Definitely. But, do I feel that a wrestler should be losing weight for a competition that is seven months away? Not a chance. Those individuals that are preparing for Freestyle/ Greco Roman state and national tournaments are the only wrestlers concerned with their weight right now.
This is not to say that your diet should go out the window and you should balloon up three weight classes. I have said many times before that a balanced diet is the only safe diet whether you are trying to gain, maintain, or lose weight. Your body is like a car, in that it needs fuel to work and without that fuel it will merely stall out. But, the fuel that you need now is different than the fuel that you will need about a month before the season. A smart wrestler will know what they need at each point throughout the year.
There are three main sources of energy for the body, which come in the forms of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Knowing the function of each will help you balance your diet and shape the body that you need to be a champion.
Protein is the main building block of muscle. This is the reasoning behind the million-dollar industry of supplemental protein shakes, pills, and bars. Bodybuilders have known this fact for years and have been consuming mass quantities of chicken. When your muscles have been broken down by some form of activity they begin to search for sources of protein to rebuild. One thing to keep in mind before you spend your, or your parent’s, hard earned cash to the before mentioned supplement fat cats is that your body will only keep the protein that it thinks it needs. The protein that the body does not need is flushed down the toilet…literally.
Not only will you have the most expensive urine on the block, but you may also be causing damage to your liver. The body sends unused protein to the liver to be processed and disposed of. Increasing the amount of “waste” protein increases the amount of work that the liver must do to get rid of it. The overstressing of the liver eventually takes its toll and it begins to become diseased. This is yet another reason that a balanced diet is of paramount importance.
Fats have been seen as the enemy to many dieters over the years. Think about it, fats are what make us look “fat.” The way that I see it is that fats have been given a death sentence for a crime that they didn’t commit. Yes, an overabundance of fats is extremely unhealthy, but fats are needed for survival. During activities lasting longer than approximately thirty seconds your body begins to burn fats for energy to a certain degree. This is all dependant on the intensity and type of activity that is performed.
A not so well know fact is that fats provide almost three times more energy than do carbohydrates or proteins. The drawback is that fats can only be used under exact circumstances. There are different types of fats that you should be aware of when balancing your diet. The first are saturated fats, which are typically solid at room temperature. Saturated fats, typically found on cuts of meat, give a lot of flavor to your steak. But, these fats should be eaten in low quantities for health reasons. A healthier form of fat is unsaturated fat, which is liquid at room temperature. Oils are the most commonly seen unsaturated fat. Your food labels will tell you the amounts of each, and you should consume more unsaturated fats than saturated.
The third type of fat is a fairly new discovery in the nutrition world and is known as a trans fat. These are fats that start out as saturated and when processed or heated for long periods of time become similar to unsaturated. I won’t bore you with the specifics. Trans fats should be avoided as much as possible. If your diet consists mainly of fried fast food then you’re not avoiding trans fats at all.
Carbohydrates are one of the most important sources of energy, as well as one of the most confusing to understand. Here is the simplified version. Just like fats, there are different types of carbohydrates, namely complex, simple, and refined. Complex carbs are found in starches like potatoes, rice, and pasta. They give energy for longer duration activities and are stored in the body for use as needed. Simple carbs are found in fruits, vegetables, and trace amounts in meat. They are a quick energy source and are constantly being burned during virtually every action that you perform (even thinking). Refined carbs are what most people know as table sugar and are main ingredient in candy and baked goods. Refined sugars provide very little, if any, nutritional value.
According to this explanation, a balanced diet is found using logical thinking about your body’s fuel needs. This is the time of year that you want to add muscle, so protein is of utmost importance. It’s usually good to drop body fat, so fats should be monitored and adjusted accordingly. And you should find an ideal balance of complex and simple carbohydrates to suit your activities.
For those of you still worried about what weight you’ll wrestle at next year, you’re still growing. Get through the off-season and decrease your body fat. When the season gets close, you’ll know where you need to go.
This month’s nutrition extra: You should be eating five to six small meals per day: