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14 Best Supplements For Wrestlers & 2 To Avoid (2024)

As much as supplement companies want you to believe there is no way to perform at your best without their...

As much as supplement companies want you to believe there is no way to perform at your best without their products, this is untrue.

But supplements can help you reach your full potential, and in extremely physically demanding sports such as wrestling, every advantage, no matter how small, can be decisive.

Some supplements are worth your money and will help you build your wrestling strength and conditioning. But many others are full of marketing promises and zero actual results.

So, I’ve curated a list of the best wrestling supplements worthy of your money and some you should skip.

Best Supplements For Wrestlers

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3

There are two reasons to take vitamin D as a supplement- to reduce deficiency of the valuable vitamin in the body, especially in the winter months, and to boost aerobic and anaerobic performance.

And while the first use is well known to everyone, the correlation between vitamin D3 and performance is surprising for many.

Athletes who train indoors are more likely to have low vitamin D levels. For example, of 488 indoor Spanish athletes, 82% had less than optional vitamin D levels, with 45% being deficient [1].

This causes numerous problems, as vitamin D levels are linked to bone mineral density, strength, muscular size, and immune system strength [2].

But what's more intriguing is Andrew Marley's PhD study on combat athletes. His two most recent trials found that taking 50,000 IUs of vitamin D per week increased aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance compared to a placebo [3][4].

It is up to you to decide how to take 50,000 IUs of vitamin D. Andrew says he takes one 50,000 tablet per week, perhaps the most convenient way. If you want to take supplements daily, you can take 10,000 IUs five times a week.

I take one 50,000 IU pill every week and purchased a full year's supply for $10. It's ridiculously cheap, so there's no reason not to take it.

===>Check Latest Vitamin D3 Deals<===

Whey Protein

Protein Powder

Protein powder is not a necessary supplement, but it is a very convenient one. There are three main reasons you might want to take whey protein as a supplement:

  • You struggle to get enough protein from complete meals.
  • You are always busy, and whey provides a quick snack replacement.
  • You are on a tight budget.

Your daily protein intake should range between 0.8 and 1 g per pound of body weight. If you weigh 180 pounds, this can be difficult for those who do not consume as much meat or eat fewer meals.

I am around 180 lbs, eat a lot of meat, and still struggle to consistently hit the 180 g of protein daily without going overboard on calories.

Protein powder is an easy approach to meet your protein intake goals.

Furthermore, if you're driving straight from training to work, drinking a protein shake in the car eliminates the need to sit down for a post-workout meal.

Finally, protein powder is the cheapest protein source per serving, allowing you to buy less expensive meat or dairy sources while staying within your budget.

How can you know what protein is best? It makes no difference what type of protein you consume as long as you meet your daily protein requirement.

However, there are other factors to consider as a wrestler. Third-party testing with the informed sport tick is the most important badge to seek for.

You want a protein powder tested for forbidden substances to avoid being popped from contaminated protein.

I recommended Transparent Labs 100% Grass Fed Whey Protein because it is third-party tested, tastes delicious, and has one of any brand's highest protein-to-serving size ratios.

This ensures that most of the scoop contains protein rather than inexpensive fillers.

If you are lactose intolerant, whey isolate is your best option over non-dairy protein powders because it has been further processed and has little to no lactose.

===>Check Latest Whey Protein Deals<===

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is a supplement every wrestler should take, but many avoid because of false assumptions. It is suspected to induce weight gain, gastrointestinal problems, muscle cramps, hair loss, dehydration, and renal damage.

However, none of these are supported by research [5]. Yes, you will first gain weight.

But this is water weight saturating your muscles with creatine, which is the intended effect. This saturation provides greater energy for explosive movements.

Creatine responders should anticipate to gain around 1.2% of their body weight [6]. Nonresponders may experience no weight gain at all.

Taking creatine will raise strength by about 8%, increase the number of reps performed at a given load by 14%, and improve anaerobic power, which is critical for wrestling conditioning. [7][8].

When choosing creatine type, stick to monohydrate creatine. Other types of creatine exhibit comparable or worse rates of muscle saturation while costing more due to marketing.

Monohydrate is completely effective and the only type you need.

You don't need to use the loading method of intake unless you need quick improvements in performance. 5 g per day is all you need to get full muscle creatine saturation in 28 days.

Wrestlers should use this supplement without hesitation. However, if you compete in the NCAA or other tested competitions, always look for creatine with the informed sports tick, indicating the tested absence of banned substances.

One such creatine that also tastes delicious is Transparent Labs Creatine.

If you're not competing in a tested competition but still want high-quality, pure, unflavored creatine, Lift Big Eat Big offers a great package deal to save you money.

===>Check Latest Lift Big Eat Big Creatine Deals<===

Fish Oil

Fish Oil

You won't need a fish oil supplement if you consume plenty of fatty seafood, such as salmon, and aren't strapped for cash.

On the other hand, those who don't consume fatty fish regularly should take fish oil in supplement form.

For instance, a study found that supplementing with 4.2 g of EPA and DHA together increased vertical jump height and decreased muscular pain for up to 48 hours after training [9].

In addition, it was found that 3.2 g of EPA/DHA decreased whole-body oxygen demand and heart rate during maximum and submaximal exercise without affecting performance [10].

Consider the EPA/DHA ratio in relation to the capsule size when choosing fish oil supplements. In a 1-gram pill, for example, the typical dosage is 180 milligrams of EPA and 120 milligrams of DHA.

This means that out of 1000 mg, only 300 mg is actually fish oil.

A better solution is Natures Bounty Triple Strength Fish Oil, which is a potent fish oil supplement

This one is what I use, and if you happen to be in the US, you can find it at Costco.

===>Check Latest Natures Bounty Fish Oil Deals<===

Electrolytes

Electrolytes

Wrestling is renowned as one of the most physically demanding sports and notoriously hard workouts where athletes lose a lot of sweat.

Despite current marketing claims, the ordinary person who trains three times per week does not require an electrolyte supplement.

However, for a wrestler who trains every day and possibly twice per day, electrolytes become essential for recovery.

Sports drinks often do not include enough sodium to be effective electrolyte replenishers.

Some are even bad enough to pack their drinks with potassium but not sodium, even though you sweat mainly sodium.

So, opt for an electrolyte supplement with a high salt content. There is no universal guideline because everyone sweats sodium at varying rates, with some wrestlers considered "salty sweaters."

Look for 500-1000 mg of sodium per serving. Transparent Labs offers a 500 mg sodium electrolyte mix that tastes wonderful and meets the informed sports tick criteria.

===>Check Latest Transparent Labs Electrolyte Deals<===

Beta-Alanine

Beta Alanine

Beta-alanine is the well-known pre-workout ingredient responsible for the feeling people associate with a product "working."

Paresthesia refers to the tingling sensations that move from your face to your limbs [13]. This is a harmless side effect that you cannot develop tolerance to.

Spreading your dose over the day, rather than taking a large amount all at once, can help lessen the tingles.

Beta-alanine works by increasing carnosine levels, which buffer acidic waste products associated with high-intensity exercise, allowing you to perform high-intensity bursts lasting 1-4 minutes [14][15].

A recent systematic review of beta-alanine supplementation in combat sports found athletes had increased strength, power, overall work capacity, a better perception of recovery from physical exertion, more lean mass, and less fat mass [16].

For wrestlers, 4 g per day for 8 weeks resulted in a 1.1 lb gain in fat-free mass while losing 0.43 lbs, a 1.5-sec increase in flexed arm isometric hang time, and a 0.3-sec drop in 300-yard shuttle time when compared to placebo [17].

Amateur boxers who take 5-6 g daily had increased punch frequency and force, reduced tiredness, and improved lower body peak power as compared to placebo [18][19][20].

This evidence is sufficient to conclude consuming beta-alanine daily improves wrestling performance.

To see endurance increases, acquire 179 g over 3 - 10 weeks [21]. Supplementing with 4 - 6 g per day, divided into 2 - 4 dosages, is effective.

Transparent Labs offers a third-party banned drug-tested beta-alanine at an affordable price.

===>Check Latest Transparent Labs Beta-Alanine Deals<===

Other Supplements You May Want To Take For Wrestling

Pre-Workout

Pre Workout

Using stimulants to get through your workouts usually implies problems elsewhere. Too little sleep, too much physical activity, insufficient nutrition, or too much stress.

Caffeine, the most potent legal performance enhancer, is an example of a stimulant that can be used sensibly.

Other compounds in pre-workout supplements may boost performance, but caffeine is responsible for most of these improvements.

The key elements to look for are properly dosed components, informed sport ticks, and a moderate caffeine dose.

Transparent Labs Bulk is my suggested pre-workout because it checks all of these categories.

Stay away from pre-workouts with massive caffeine doses and underdosed other ingredients.

===>Check Latest Transparent Labs Bulk Pre-Workout Deals<===

L-Citrulline

L-Citrulline

L-citrulline is a popular new endurance supplement that allegedly acts as a vasodilator, improving blood flow.

It stimulates nitric oxide production by converting to l-arginine in the kidneys, which is then converted to nitric oxide.

However, studies on this mechanism are conflicting even though we notice benefits in endurance performance [11][12].

This popular component can now be found in all pre-workout supplements. Steady doses over 7 days appear to provide better performance advantages. However, 6-8 g can provide acute performance gains.

When used continually, dosages ranging from 3 to 12 g are sufficient, although 6-8 g daily is the best option.

Transparent Labs offers third-party-tested L-citrulline that is devoid of banned substances.

===>Check Latest Transparent Labs L-Citrulline Deals<===

Sodium Bicarbonate

Sodium Bicarbonate

You must use caution when using this substance. Most people should avoid it because it causes gastrointestinal discomfort.

Make sure to first try it in training a few times and not debut its use in competition.

The principle is similar to beta-alanine, in which acidic waste products can be buffered to improve endurance.

For example, ten national and international amateur boxers consumed 0.3g of sodium bicarbonate per kg of body weight an hour before sparring.

They gradually increased their work rate throughout four rounds, compared to placebo [22].

Seven professional boxers demonstrated identical findings, increasing the duration to exhaustion by more than double that of the placebo.

The recommended baking soda dose is 0.3g per kg body weight, taken 1-2 hours before training.

It's a lot to ingest, which explains the usual stomach discomfort, so give it a shot before committing.

===>Check Latest Sodium Bicarbonate Deals<===

Nitrates

Increasing nitric oxide levels may improve blood flow to working muscles, allowing more oxygen delivered during exercise.

Beetroot juice and extract are popular forms of dietary nitrates in supplement form.

A daily dose of either 140 mL of beetroot juice or 1 g of beetroot extract increased strength and endurance in a variety of combat athletes [23].

Bulk Supplements is a reputable brand that offers huge bags of beetroot extract.

===>Check Latest Bulk Supplements Beetroot Extract Deals<===

Brain Supplements For Wrestlers

Brain supplements are all the rage now in all walks of life because they promise to enhance focus, concentration, and mental performance.

While primarily used by busy professionals and students, nootropics can have value for athletes and wrestlers.

Don’t expect miracles, though. Even when nootropics work, the benefits are usually subtle and not immediately felt.

But if you have the cash to spend and potentially have better focus and clarity on and off the mats, here are some worthy options. 

Braini

Braini Nootropic

Braini is only nootropic with third-party peer-reviewed research supporting their entire formulation and not only individual ingredients.

To assess cognitive performance, they conducted a 28-day program that included taking Braini daily and administering the validated CNS Vital Signs exam before and after [24].

They discovered a 7.8% increase in cognitive flexibility, executive function, and the Executive Function Shifting Attention Test (SAT-RT) compared to placebo.

Cognitive flexibility aids in the adaptation to complex instructions and translates to decision-making abilities, which are vital in wrestling competitions.

Executive function is defined as the ability to pay attention, sequence instructions, switch focus between memory-requiring activities, recall details, and think creatively, all of which are required during wrestling practice.

SAT-RT translates into more efficient, accurate, and timely answers in shifting attention situations, such as dealing with an opponent in wrestling.

NFL players are already using Braini, so it's only a matter of time until it becomes popular in other disciplines.

===>Check Latest Braini Deals<===

Real Mushrooms Lions Mane

Lions Mane Mushroom

Most mushroom extracts are speculative at best. Although there is little strong proof to back up the benefits, it may be worthwhile to take the risk.

Lion's Mane, in particular, is recognized for its cognitive advantages. A recent thorough study discovered that Lions Mane may boost mental processing speed and reduce stress in healthy persons [25].

Importantly, you must seek out high-quality Lion's Mane, such as the one shown here. Take 2-3 g each day to reap potential advantages.

===>Check Latest Real Mushrooms Lions Mane Deals<===

Supplements To Avoid For Wrestling

The two supplements I firmly believe wrestlers should avoid are BCAAs and L-Glutamine, not because they are harmful but because they do nothing while costing money better spent on high-quality food or other supplements.

BCAAs

BCAAs are a waste of money. Total protein consumption takes precedence over all other factors, and protein sources become less important when aiming for 0.8 g per pound of body weight.

When enough protein is consumed on a regular basis, using BCAAs provides no additional benefits [26].

Furthermore, your whey protein and meat already contain BCAAs. Therefore, you don't need to supplement with these three amino acids.

L-Glutamine

Despite its promotion, Glutamine does not improve athletic performance or recovery [27].

It may, however, aid with digestion troubles for patients with IBS when combined with a low FODMAP diet [28], but this is not something wrestlers or fighters in general are concerned with.

Summary

Don't expect supplements to perform miracles. Training, nutrition, and sleep are the three pillars on which your wrestling ability and conditioning are built. But if you have all of them dialed in, a select few supplements can take you to the next level.

Don't fall for too many marketing promises, and stick to the proven supplements, especially if you are on a tight budget. If not, it might be work experimenting with some of the more speculative products.

References

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  2. de la Puente Yagüe, M., Collado Yurrita, L., & Cuadrado Cenzual, M. A. (2020). Role of vitamin D in athletes and their performance: Current concepts and new trends. Nutrients, 12(2), 579.
  3. Marley, A., Grant, M. C., & Babraj, J. (2021). Weekly Vitamin D3 supplementation improves aerobic performance in combat sport athletes. European Journal of Sport Science, 21(3), 379-387.
  4. Marley, A., Grant, M. C., & Babraj, J. (2022). Vitamin D3 supplementation combined with sprint interval training improves aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance over sprint interval training alone in recreational combat sport athletes. Science & Sports, 37(3), 217-e1.
  5. Antonio, J., Candow, D. G., Forbes, S. C., Gualano, B., Jagim, A. R., Kreider, R. B., ... & Ziegenfuss, T. N. (2021). Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show?. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 18(1), 13.
  6. Branch, J. D. (2003). Effect of creatine supplementation on body composition and performance: a meta-analysis. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 13(2), 198-226.
  7. Rawson, E. S., & Volek, J. S. (2003). Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 17(4), 822-831.
  8. Mielgo-Ayuso, J., Calleja-Gonzalez, J., Marqués-Jiménez, D., Caballero-García, A., Córdova, A., & Fernández-Lázaro, D. (2019). Effects of creatine supplementation on athletic performance in soccer players: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrients, 11(4), 757.
  9. Peoples, G. E., McLennan, P. L., Howe, P. R., & Groeller, H. (2008). Fish oil reduces heart rate and oxygen consumption during exercise. Journal of cardiovascular pharmacology, 52(6), 540-547.
  10. Gonzalez, A. M., & Trexler, E. T. (2020). Effects of citrulline supplementation on exercise performance in humans: A review of the current literature. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 34(5), 1480-1495.
  11. Gonzalez, A. M., Yang, Y., Mangine, G. T., Pinzone, A. G., Ghigiarelli, J. J., & Sell, K. M. (2023). Acute Effect of L-Citrulline Supplementation on Resistance Exercise Performance and Muscle Oxygenation in Recreationally Resistance Trained Men and Women. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, 8(3), 88.
  12. Huerta Ojeda, A., Tapia Cerda, C., Poblete Salvatierra, M. F., Barahona-Fuentes, G., & Jorquera Aguilera, C. (2020). Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on physical performance in aerobic–anaerobic transition zones: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrients, 12(9), 2490.
  13. Hobson, R. M., Saunders, B., Ball, G., Harris, R. C., & Sale, C. (2012). Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino acids, 43(1), 25-37.
  14. Saunders, B., Elliott-Sale, K., Artioli, G. G., Swinton, P. A., Dolan, E., Roschel, H., ... & Gualano, B. (2017). β-alanine supplementation to improve exercise capacity and performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(8), 658-669.
  15. Fernández-Lázaro, D., Fiandor, E. M., García, J. F., Busto, N., Santamaría-Peláez, M., Gutiérrez-Abejón, E., ... & Mielgo-Ayuso, J. (2023). β-Alanine Supplementation in Combat Sports: Evaluation of Sports Performance, Perception, and Anthropometric Parameters and Biochemical Markers—A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials. Nutrients, 15(17), 3755.
  16. Kern, B. D., & Robinson, T. L. (2011). Effects of β-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(7), 1804-1815.
  17. Donovan, T., Ballam, T., Morton, J. P., & Close, G. L. (2012). β-alanine improves punch force and frequency in amateur boxers during a simulated contest. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 22(5), 331-337.
  18. Alabsi, K., Rashidlamir, A., & Dokht, E. H. (2023). The effect of 4 Weeks of strength training and beta-alanine supplementation on anaerobic power and carnosine level in boxer players. Journal of Science in Sport and Exercise, 5(1), 62-69.
  19. Kim, K. J., Song, H. S., Yoon, D. H., Fukuda, D. H., Kim, S. H., & Park, D. H. (2018). The effects of 10 weeks of β-alanine supplementation on peak power, power drop, and lactate response in Korean national team boxers. Journal of exercise rehabilitation, 14(6), 985.
  20. Hobson, R. M., Saunders, B., Ball, G., Harris, R. C., & Sale, C. (2012). Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino acids, 43, 25-37.
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  3. Lanou, A. J., Mast, A. C., Hill, B. D., Kim, S. S., & Hanaway, P. (2023). A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial of a Novel Dietary Supplement on Standardized CNS Vital Signs Cognitive Performance Parameters in Adults. Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine, 29(5), 303-312.
  4. Docherty, S., Doughty, F. L., & Smith, E. F. (2023). The Acute and Chronic Effects of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Supplementation on Cognitive Function, Stress and Mood in Young Adults: A Double-Blind, Parallel Groups, Pilot Study. Nutrients, 15(22), 4842.
  5. Plotkin, D. L., Delcastillo, K., Van Every, D. W., Tipton, K. D., Aragon, A. A., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2021). Isolated leucine and branched-chain amino acid supplementation for enhancing muscular strength and hypertrophy: A narrative review. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 31(3), 292-301.
  6. Ahmadi, A. R., Rayyani, E., Bahreini, M., & Mansoori, A. (2019). The effect of glutamine supplementation on athletic performance, body composition, and immune function: A systematic review and a meta-analysis of clinical trials. Clinical nutrition, 38(3), 1076-1091.
  1. Rastgoo, S., Ebrahimi-Daryani, N., Agah, S., Karimi, S., Taher, M., Rashidkhani, B., ... & Hekmatdoost, A. (2021). Glutamine supplementation enhances the effects of a low FODMAP diet in irritable bowel syndrome management. Frontiers in Nutrition, 8, 746703.