Bulking and cutting in a safe and healthy way is one of the top challenges for all wrestlers. National champion wrestler Anthony Cassar went from wrestling at 197 pounds as a sophomore in college to wrestling at 285 pounds as a junior. He was able to jump weight classes and still achieve peak performance, winning the national title his junior year
. Anthony started wrestling as a young kid, once his father introduced himself and his brother to the sport around 8 years old. He wrestled all throughout his school days and eventually became the National Champion of wrestling at Penn State University
. Anthony grew up eating healthy, but decided in college that he would dedicate himself to fueling his body properly in order to train at a high level. Nutrition is a critical part of wrestling: in order to make certain weight classes, Anthony must focus on bulking and cutting weight throughout his various training seasons while maintaining physical fitness. In this Q&A, Anthony delves into his core nutrition principles.
What convinced you that you needed to start fueling your body properly?
After two years in college eating dining hall food, dorm snacks, and alcohol, I began to feel terrible in training and competitions. For a while you may be able to get away with a bad diet, but it will inevitably catch up to you. I knew I could be faster and stronger, and so things needed to change. I started working very closely with my Penn State coaches and nutritionists. I delved into the science of nutrition as much as I could to unlock a new level of performance.
What are your core nutrition principles?
Consistency is my #1 principle. For the most part, I try to stay away from junk food, simple and refined carbs, sugar and sweet baked goods. However, having a fun meal every now and then won’t derail my process, because I am consistent for the majority of the time. I base my meals off of a high quality protein and fat. By having staple meals I can count on, I can easily manipulate their calorie density for when I am bulking and cutting weight. I make sure to hydrate and consume enough electrolytes right before a match or key training session. Prior to using UCAN, I’d eat fruit + nuts, and other basic fats and carbs that wouldn’t sit heavy in my stomach. Now, I replace most of my pre-training fuel with UCAN. I build a meal based mostly on protein, and drink UCAN Energy Powder prior to competitions and training. Post-workout, I love Cocoa Energy + Protein. It’s the perfect protein + carbohydrate mixture for recovery.
How do you navigate the fast weight gain that comes with having to bulk up for a higher weight class?
I went from 197 pounds my first two years of college to competing in the 285 weight class. I dedicated 6 months to getting both big and strong, while doing my best to maintain endurance the whole time. The goal was to get strong without overloading my body with inefficient fat. I ate primarily whole, nutrient dense food the whole time and for the most part stayed away from all junk food. Heavy weight classes usually have the reputation that you can eat whatever you want, but that is not the case. If you want to perform at a high level you must fuel properly. It was not necessarily enjoyable to eat so much but I knew my goal was to put on mass, so I built my meals using the same foundation of my normal diet and added on to that. A huge key for bulking is to put your calories to work. Yes, you’re eating many calories per day, and you want the majority of those to go to muscle! So I put in hours in the gym and on the wrestling mat to stick to my strict workout schedule in order to balance my muscle to fat ratio.
What are the critical aspects of cutting?
Cutting takes someone to be disciplined and consistent. I eat very similar meals to when I’m bulking, but much less of them. I still seek high quality food that will keep me energized. I specifically limit my sodium and carbohydrate levels close to the match due to their water-weight holding capacities. UCAN Energy would be perfect for cutting, because it gives you long lasting energy and is a very efficient source of calories. Unlike eating other fast carbs, you won’t put your body into fat storage mode like other insulin spiking carbohydrates do if you use UCAN before a weigh-in or wrestling match. Want to fuel like the Champ? Click below for some of Anthony’s favorite products.