How to Maintain a Healthy Diet on the Road for Wrestling
One of the most difficult things to do in wrestling is to maintain a healthy diet while traveling from competition to competition. All successful wrestlers follow some kind of routine diet, and traveling can put a damper on normal practices. Your diet is especially critical if you are cutting weight — making weight is nearly impossible if you don’t know how to fuel your body when away from home. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about eating healthy while on the road.
Prepare Your Meals
The best thing you can do to ensure that you are eating healthily is to prepare meals before you leave home. Depending on how long your trip is, certain foods can be stored in containers and then placed in a cooler until you get to the hotel, or wherever you are staying. Check to see what the amenities are where you are staying; there will typically be a refrigerator and a microwave in most hotels. Meals that are good to bring along are:
- Pasta with tomato sauce
- Eggs and rice
- Chicken breast and vegetables
Try to prepare as much food as you can, just in case. It’s also good to pack non-perishable foods, or foods that will last you without having to refrigerate them right away. Tournament essentials — granola and energy bars, sports drinks, etc. — are all packaged so they are easy to bring along. Don’t forget to pack bottled water to ensure that you stay hydrated!
Two-time NCAA national champion and 2008 Olympian, Steve Mocco, has been on the road since his days as a youth wrestler. He grew up in New Jersey and when he first started training, his father drove him to practice in Pennsylvania twice a week — that’s more than two hours of driving each way! During this time, Steve’s father would prepare home-cooked meals that could be heated up on a stove that was installed in their van. Even in college and on the freestyle circuit, Steve’s father continued to travel with him to all of the major tournaments, catering all of his meals to ensure that he had good food to eat!
You may not always be able to prepare your food before you leave for a competition. In this case, one of the best things you can do when you arrive at your destination is stock up on healthy foods at a grocery store. Grab all of the essentials for competition: Fruits, vegetables, water, sports drinks, energy bars, etc. You can also get freshly prepared meals in the deli section. Try to stay away from convenience stores — the prices will typically be higher and the quality of food much lower.
For more information about what you should stock up on, check out iSport’s guide on What to Eat before a Wrestling Match.
Settling for Fast Food
Another huge issue that comes up when you are on the road is the prominence of fast food restaurants. Yes, these are the most convenient and often cheapest choices, but you should not be fueling your body with such low-quality food when on wrestling-related trips. Fast food meals are often much higher in sodium and fat, in addition to the additives and preservatives that won’t nourish your body.
If you must eat fast food, however, here are a few tips that will help you out:
- Nutrition facts: Take the time to read the nutrition facts about the food before ordering. Many restaurants will display this information on their menu. You can also find the information on the internet.
- Order a salad: One of your best options at a fast food restaurant is a salad. Try to find a salad that contains mostly vegetables, not croutons, crackers, etc. Be aware of the kind of dressing that comes with it; these can often be high in calories, fat, and sodium. Opt for a lighter dressing or none at all.
- Nothing fried: Many restaurants will give you the option of getting foods, like chicken, grilled or baked rather than fried. This is always a smart choice.
- Limit condiments: If you must order a food that contains condiments, such as mayonnaise, try to either leave them out or go light on them.
If you can, opt for actual restaurants. You will have a wider variety of healthier options. Some diners are even open late if you and your teammates need a meal after a late-night tournament session. If the internet is available, look for restaurants that are highly rated and reputable.
A complimentary breakfast provided by a hotel is one of the most valuable resources for a wrestler. You can find a wide variety of relatively healthy foods for free! If you are allowed, you may be able to bring a couple of these items with you to the tournament to snack on later. Common foods that are provided at complementary breakfasts and are great for wrestlers are:
- Bagel with peanut butter
Know Your Options
After you gain some experience traveling and competing, you will find a routine diet that works for you on the road. In order to get to this stage, you must know your options where you’re traveling, be it the amenities at the hotel, nearby grocery stores, or the quality of local restaurants. Make sure to do some research before you leave, and always prepare some food for your trip.
For more information on how you should be eating for competition, check out the Related Guides section at the top right-hand side of this page.