Wrestlers and athletes spend years learning how to eat better for performance, and then transfer that knowledge to life. Once you've weeded through all the nutritional knowledge, you'll find that a few tips are tried and true. Below are techniques that help with learning your body, and how to appropriately portion your meals throughout the day.
Start your day with 1 glass of water
Wrestlers need a lot of water to stay properly hydrated. Our workouts consist of high intensity burns that include a lot of sweat and often is not replaced. Besides needing the fluid for sweat, water helps support the functions of our organs. Stay on top of your hydration to optimize your performance by drinking 1 glass of water as soon as you wake up. This sets the tone for your day as you should plan to continue to drink 2 glasses around each meal. This will help keep you fuller longer and ready to sweat at practice.
Include protein in each meal
Protein helps you stay fuller, longer. Including protein in your snacks can be beneficial to help prevent overeating at meals. This category includes chicken, fish, beef, eggs, dairy products, beans, and nuts. Be diverse in your protein intakes, and use a protein supplement for when you cannot consume enough protein in your snacks or meals, or as a convenient tool around training sessions. A protein supplement will also be a great tool for athletes who are vegetarians or vegans.
Focus on 5-6 meals a day
There have been many studies which concluded that eating smaller meals more often has lead to less over eating. For athletes, this is also a great way to avoid the midday hunger pains. High level athletes will eat almost every 2-3 hours depending on how many calories they burn. Remember, as your muscle mass increases, so does your metabolism. Make sure to eat before and after each workout.
Use visual cues when building your plate
How often have you been to an all you can eat buffet and stacked your plate with food you had no business even trying to eat? I know my eyes have been bigger than my stomach! When you have visual queues for your portion sizes, it becomes helpful when filing your plate at home or in any situation. Your protein choice should be about the size of a deck of cards or the size your palm. Carbohydrates should be about the size of your fist, and the rest can be filled with vegetables (I know you ALL eat your vegetables). Healthy fats such as nuts and oils should fit in about 2 spoonfuls.
Meal prep to help prevent raiding the pantry
Meal prepping is becoming a great tool for athletes and everyone in between. It helps limit choices, and you will always have your staples of a favorite protein, veg, and carb available for a meal. When you know what you are eating, you won't turn to unhealthy snacking before the next meal. You also won't have that worry about being full enough, as long as you are meal prepping efficiently. Check out the blog I wrote on how to meal prep for beginners here.
Make your own snack packs
There is nothing worse than being in a major hunger emergency. If you are in the middle or end of your season, you are getting in awesome shape and starting to burn the most amount of calories. This means your body will be demanding nutrients every 2-3 hours to sustain all that muscle mass you have put on. Don't get caught in a place where having a nutritionally balanced snack is not on hand and fast food or unhealthy choices are your only option. Check out the blog here on great snack options.
Start a food journal
This is not a calorie counter. Let me say this again: this is not a calorie counter! A food journal is a tool that helps you recognize patterns. It is very difficult to make changes in the way you eat if you don't have a clear understanding of your habits. I used a food journal when I needed to go up a weight class and I had to find opportunities to add more nutrition, even when I didn't think it existed. They only way I was able to find change was by journaling and reflecting on my habits over weeks and months. If you have goals to include more water and more vegetables in your nutrition, you need to know where you have a deficit to make up. Log what you eat for meals, snacks, and how much water you drink. Don't try and eat perfect for the journal's sake, eat how you normally do so you can actually make improvements.