Cutting Weight in Wrestling: A Tale of Two Hormones

By: Don Moxley, M.A.  Exercise Physiologist, Hydrus Sport Science Director

Wrestling is hard!  Perhaps the most difficult of all sports for which to prepare.  Wrestling requires its champions to be strong, have great endurance, flexible as gymnasts and prepare technically and tactically for all comers.  Wrestles aren’t just well rounded, they have to be exceptional at all aspects of the game.  Then to make it even harder, the process of cutting weight injects a stress most other sports never experience.   In order to be prepared, wrestling has no off season.  As soon as the competitive season ends, preparation for the next begins.  

The off season is dominated by strength and conditioning.  Wrestlers building their bodies, increasing strength and muscle mass to take the largest body possible into their weight class.  A huge price is paid for every ounce of muscle, wrestlers can’t afford to just give that away with bad weight cutting practices.  It’s important to understand, that when weight is cut properly, the wrestler can gain an advantage.  But done wrong, hours of hard work go down the drain.

As we said, cutting weight correctly gives a wrestler and advantage.  Cutting weight correctly involves two elements:  Stripping out as much fat as possible and wrestling lean.  Then using short term dehydration to accomplish the rest.  

In order to strip or use body fat, athletes have to understand the role of the hormone Insulin.  Insulin is the dominant hormone when it comes to fat storage or usage.  When insulin is low, stored fat can be used for fuel.  When insulin is high, the body will not release fat for fuel.  When insulin is high the body is trying to store more fat.  The key to lowering insulin is lowering the glycemic index of the food and fluid you consume.  If you’re a wrestler cutting weight, you should not be eating any refined sugar products.  Drinking sugar based products is completely counter productive.  Not only is the sugar creating a strong insulin response, it passes through the stomach quickly providing no appetite satiation.   Hungry and burning up you valuable protein stores is no way to cut weight and win. 

Many  wrestlers can successfully dehydrate for short periods of time (less than 24 hours), rehydrating following weigh in with no remarkable impact on performance.  The key though is to keep the dehydration period as short as possible.  When you dehydrate for longer periods, you body produces another hormone called vasopressin.  Vasopressin causes the kidneys to restrict water loss.  Your body views this as stress and will not only restrict water loss through urine and sweat, but will also begin to regulate the amount of energy your can produce.  Being fully hydrated at the time of completion is important.  It’s also important to be fully hydrated throughout your training.  Bad weight cutting caused you to lose muscle and lose energy.

Hydrus Performance Hydration Concentrate hits the two things wrestlers need to be lean and fully hydrated at the time of competition.  Hydrus has no sugar!  No sugar means no insulin response from hydrus and you stay in fat burning mode longer!  When you’ve made weight and it’s time to re-hydrate,  Hydrus’ exclusive NanosomeTM Technology provides higher electrolyte and water absorption—“5x and up to 8x more effective”*than traditional hydration products.  That means more water to the cells and your back to full strength at match time!