Making an Impact with Wrestlers

Next Level Podcast with Host Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LD

Clint Wattenberg- Podcast

Clint Wattenberg, MS, RD, CSCS
Proud Cornell University alumnus, a 2 x All-American for the Big Red, an assistant Cornell wrestling coach and a USA Freestyle National Team member.

I am a life-long wrestler, a proud Cornell University alumnus, a 2 x All-American for the Big Red, an assistant Cornell wrestling coach and a USA Freestyle National Team member.

My involvement in the sport continues to this day as I club coach for the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club, working with wrestlers ranging from youth, high school, college and even Olympic levels on wrestling skill, tactics, nutrition and strength training. I am also proud to be very involved in the growth of the sport through the grassroots youth wrestling organization known as NYWAY (New York Wrestling Association for Youth).

I serve as the Coordinator of Sports Nutrition for Cornell University Athletics, and help support all 36 sports teams on Cornell’s campus. I work especially close with the Cornell Wrestling team, which has achieved national prominence over the past several years. I work intimately with wrestlers on weight loss, weight gain, weight cutting challenges as well as the plethora of other areas of performance nutrition.

It is difficult for me to pinpoint the exact inception of my passion for sports nutrition, but I remember being intrigued as a youth wrestler and cross county runner by the challenges of effectively fueling while competing back home in Chico, CA.

It was my time here at Cornell and my personal weight management struggles that really shaped my passion. As a Big Red wrestler, I competed at the 165-pound weight class for three seasons. As is the case with many wrestlers, my weight class became my identity but after having grown significantly (from ~170lbs to ~190lbs), I had outgrown my weight class by that third year. Unfortunately, I failed to recognize it until I was in the heat of the season; one that saw an unfortunately high level of focus on weight cutting, was riddled with injury and ended with me falling short of my goals. After some serious reflection and heavy lifting, I bumped up two weight classes all the way to 184-pounds for the following season. This of course presented an entirely new (and much more enjoyable) fueling challenge that included weight gain, strength gain and skill development to take on bigger and stronger competition. It was at this bigger weight class (184-pounds and then 84kgs/185lbs) that I achieved my greatest successes on the mats that includes becoming an NCAA All-American and USA Freestyle National Team member.

After college, I competed briefly in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and have consulted with several MMA fighters including Jon Jones and Anthony Leone on both sports nutrition and wrestling for MMA.

These experiences have grounded my knowledge in performance nutrition for wrestling as I have maintained this performance perspective for each and every step of my education. I have spent my career, both competitively and professionally, applying the science to the singular demands of a wrestler.

At Cornell, in addition to my role as a sports dietitian, I serve as a Specialty Nutritionist (Dietitian) for the Cornell Healthy Eating Program (CHEP); the CHEP program is a multidisciplinary effort to help students fuel themselves effectively to support their academics, athletics and wellness with special focus on disordered eating. In this role I work with a broad spectrum of sub-optimal fueling that ranges from student athletes struggling to adequately fuel their sport training (and incur an injury like a stress fractures) to students suffering from severe eating disorder requiring hospitalization. While the fields of sports nutrition and eating disorder nutrition counseling can be quite different, I am humbled by both roles and learn lessons every day that impact the perspective that I bring to my practice as a dietitian.

What you will learn in this episode:

1. When did you discover you had a love for wrestling?

2. A lot has changed in the last 10-15 years in regards to the issues with weight loss, body fat, and hydration guidelines for Wrestlers. Can you discuss what happened to put more strict guidelines in place?

3. Even with the new guidelines, there can be some challenges wrestlers face regarding their diet that may negatively impact their performance. What are some of those challenges?

4. What are 2-3 nutrition principles you feel are critical for all wrestlers to implement in their fueling plan that could elevate their performance?

5. What should the composition of a wrestler’s diet look like?

6. Are there different needs in-season vs. off-season?

7. Weight cutting seems to be a common practice amongst wrestlers and if not done correctly, could be dangerous. What are negative outcomes if a wrestler doesn’t cut weight safely? Could we see a loss of muscle and strength?

8. What are some safe nutritional strategies you teach your athletes on how to cut weight safely?

9. Hydration is another important aspect to include in a wrestler’s nutrition plan. Especially during the weight cutting phase, very little fluids may be consumed. How do you educate your athletes about hydration?

10. What type of fluids do you recommend?

11. The morning after a weigh in most wrestlers are starving, especially those who have been restricting calories to cut weight. What type of foods do you recommend?

12. With the desire to cut weight or build muscle comes the potential to want to use dietary supplements. Are there any commonly used supplements by wrestlers? Are there any you recommend that may improve performance or recovery? Are there any that can be potentially dangerous?

13. You were an All American Wrestler while at Cornell. You were studying nutrition at the time so do you feel you had an advantage over your opponents or were you also struggling to fuel correctly?

14. You just completed a great eBook on Performance Nutrition for Wrestlers “A Practical Handbook to Mastering the Sports Complex Nutrition Puzzle” Let’s talk about that for a second. Why did you want to create this (i.e. needed something specific for young athletes)?

15. What are some of the topics that you discuss in the Ebook?

16. Where can our listeners purchase your eBook?

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Download Eat 2 Win Nutrition App