Recovery After a Wrestling Weigh-In
You've trained for months, then started cutting weight through dehydration and diet before the match in order to make weight. You might have lost 5 percent or more of your body weight. Now that the weigh-in is over, it's time to recover as much of the weight loss as possible and restore your normal blood glucose and muscle carbohydrate levels. If you recover correctly, you'll be able to wrestle your best. If not, you might lose the next match before you even step onto the mat.
Need for Hydration
Rehydrating is the most important factor in the recovery process. Sports and nutrition experts, Janet Walberg-Rankin and Craig Horswill of the Long Island Wrestling Association, say your goal should be to consume 150 percent of the weight you lost. If your match is shortly after the weigh-in, however, this will be impossible. Start by drinking as much as you can tolerate and then drink more every 15 minutes. This will restore your blood volume level and counteract the effects of cutting weight, which can include mood changes, lack of focus and fatigue.
What to Drink
You need to replace electrolytes lost through dehydration, so plain water is not sufficient. Sports drinks containing carbs, sodium and electrolytes are the way to go. A good carb-electrolyte drink allows your body to best absorb the liquids, according to the Rapid Rehydration website. If you don't have time to completely rehydrate, drink as much as you can comfortably tolerate.
What to Eat
Even though you're probably starving after the weigh-in, shoveling down everything you can get your hands is a mistake. Instead, eat a succession of small meals Carbs are essential to fuel your muscles -- and for brain function and alertness -- so carb-rich foods are the way to go. However, you don't want to eat foods high in fiber or fat as they make you feel bloated. This is because they are hard to digest, remaining in your stomach longer. Energy bars, cereal, pretzels, fruit, bread with peanut butter or a slice of cheese, chocolate milk, yogurt or liquid meal replacements are good choices. A chocolate peanut butter sandwich, recommended at the Wrestling Performance Tips website, made with chocolate protein powder, natural peanut butter and whole wheat bread gives you long-lasting energy and a tasty treat as well.
Although weight cutting in wrestling is part of the sport, it can be quite dangerous, especially when done on a regular basis. Dehydration is especially risky. Rapid Rehydration says sweating off pounds should only be done within 12 to 24 hours of the weigh-in and should be limited to 5 to 8 percent of your body weight. Dehydration can cause nausea, vomiting and muscle cramps. In severe cases, it can lead to kidney failure and death. You also don't want to starve yourself during the weight cutting period. A lack of food takes your body into starvation mode. Your stomach shrinks, metabolism slows and you become fatigued. If you regularly have to lose lots of weight prior to weigh-ins, you might consider going up one weight class to ensure you're not jeopardizing your health.
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.