Alexandra L. Krause1, William Dixon1, Marco Meucci1, Paul Moore1, Bhibha Das, FACSM2, Laurel Wentz1. 1Appalachian State University, Boone, NC. 2Eastern Carolina University, Greenville, NC.

BACKGROUND: Collegiate wrestlers have historically utilized unvalidated rapid weight loss (RWL) methods to reach a specific weight class for competition. The purpose of this study was to investigate wrestler body composition changes across a season and identify nutrition behaviors used to achieve these changes. METHODS: Body composition data were collected from collegiate wrestlers at Appalachian State (n=34) at 4 time points across a season: pre-season, weight certification, mid-season, and post-season. Full body mass (FBM), fat-free mass (FFM), and fat mass (FM) were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Nutrition behaviors were recorded using 3-day food diaries and questionnaires. Repeated measures ANOVA was used to evaluate body composition changes across time points, and paired t-tests were used for dietary intake comparison. RESULTS: 34 wrestlers completed DXA testing at least once (11 lightweight, 14 middleweight, and 9 heavyweight). 17 wrestlers completed all 4 measurements. Wrestlers’ racial identity was predominantly white (72.7%) with a mean age of 20 ± 1.5 years. Collegiate wrestlers demonstrated changes in FBM, FFM, and FM across the season (p<0.05). FBM decreases were observed from pre- to mid-season (-0.98 ± 3.0 kg, p< 0.05), along with decreases in FFM from weight certification to mid-season (-0.96 ± 1.41 kg; p <0.05), and FM decreases from pre- to mid-season (-0.64 ± 0.82 kg, p<0.05). Protein intake decreased from pre- to mid-season (-7.5 ± 14.8 g; p<0.05). Energy intake assessed at weight certification and midseason did not differ significantly but were below recommendations for age and activity level. The most common reported RWL methods were active sweating (76.5%; n=26/32) and energy restriction (61.8%; n=21/32). CONCLUSION: Significant changes were found in FBM, FFM, and FM across a collegiate wrestling season. FFM decreases suggest that wrestler RWL methods may be ineffective in preserving muscle while reducing fat. Decreased protein intake across the season as shown by food records may be linked to FFM decline. Questionnaires show self-reported energy restriction, supported by dietary records that showed energy restriction at weight certification and in-season. Future research should investigate performance outcomes related to decreased in-season FFM and focus on manipulating protein to match training periodization.

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