Overweight Concern Wrestlers

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A concern about some form of overweight is common in most sports events where certain weight categories are in place (Table 1). Wrestling, particularly, has been subject to a great number of studies that have dealt with body composition, eating habits and weight loss regimens. A number of these studies have focused on the impact that rapid weight loss may have on various physical performances parameters. Some excellent reviews and discussions can be found in references 382-386. Basically the following findings have been reported. The primary methods of weight loss are diet manipulation by using well balanced diets, fasting and reduction or elimination of fluid intake. Other measures are aerobics to reduce body fat, dehydration via thermal exposure (sauna, hammam) or exercising in nylon suits or multiple layer clothing. The use of diuretics, laxatives, colon cleaning procedures and very low caloric diet (VLCD) products has also been reported. Some reports mention that a low percentage (up to 4%) of wrestlers are at risk of developing bulimia. Rapid weight loss prior to competition weigh-in procedures, followed by a rapid weight gain as well as the regular repetition of these procedures (weight cycling) have been reviewed by Horswill (382) with respect to their effects on performance and resting metabolic rate. The majority of studies show no effect on anaerobic performance, while aerobic performance generally will be impaired by rapid weight loss procedures. The effects of dehydration and reduced availability of muscle glycogen may cause the latter. Most of the studies that have focused on the effects of a rapid rehydration and weight gain as usual in the competition day show that performance returns to pre-weight loss levels despite the fact that nutritional recovery may still be incomplete.

Key points

  • There is no good data to support the hypothesis that weight cycling in wrestlers may reduce resting metabolic rate and in this way be a promoting factor for chronic weight gain.
  • It seems prudent that wrestlers need to be educated about long-term strategies to manage optimal weight control and diet counselling.

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