Nutrition is very key in the performance of any sports person. Sadly, for the longest time, dieting has been attributed to people who want to lose weight. Many athletes, especially bodybuilders and Powerlifters, have the mentality that the more they eat, the better they will perform. They, therefore, pay no attention to nutrition levels and live by the slogan “Eat everything you see.”
While this will get you some added mass and increase in energy levels, it is a very bad approach especially for professionals or anyone else for that matter. Eating without a proper dietary plan will prevent you from performing at your optimum levels and you will end up being sluggish with longer recovery periods after training and workout.
While there is no reason for powerlifters to really check what quantities of what they eat, there are things that should be taken into consideration.
The “Eat everything you see” mentality should be abolished. Junk food and processed foods will only give you flat calories. Additionally, many times, these foods have extremely high fat and cholesterol levels, all which are bad for your health. While fats are a good source of energy, it is better to eat high carb foods like whole grains that will release the calories slowly.
However, this is not to say that you should skip a meal. If you are faced with a choice to eat nothing or eat junk food, eat the junk food. You need the calories and there is really no excuse for skipping a meal.
The sole purpose of protein in the body is to repair torn or worn out tissue and also build new muscle. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you eat lots of protein rich foods to supply your body with all the protein it requires. This is especially important because, as a powerlifter, you will need all the muscle you can have and proteins are what will give you that. It is recommended that you eat up to 500 grams of proteins a day and avoid going lower than 1 gram per pound of bodyweight.
For top performers, these are the most important part of the meal. It should, however, be noted that there are two types of carbohydrates; high glycemic carbs (convert into sugar faster and include foods like sugar and carbs mostly found in junk foods), and low glycemic carbs (convert into sugar slower and include wholemeal foods like brown rice, wheat and broccoli).
It is, therefore, advisable to eat low glycemic carbs because the sugar will be released into your blood more slowly and for longer, resulting in higher energy levels for longer. The sugar in the low glycemic carbs can be converted into fats if not used up as quickly as they are consumed.
Fats have always had a bad reputation in the sports world. They are however a requirement in any diet and your body will not function optimally when deprived of them. You should, however, ensure that your daily intake is not above 30% of your diet and that you avoid saturated and trans fats.
Putting them together
Ratios of all three nutrients (fats, carbohydrates, and proteins) will depend on your aims and also what works best for you. There are however two main approaches that can be used.
1. High carb/low fat approach: This includes 40-50% carbs, 10-20% fats and 40-50% protein. With this approach, your energy levels will be constantly high and you will always be in a state of anabolism. It is also good for you if you want to gain more weight.
2. High fat/low carbs approach: it includes 10-30% carbs, 30-40% fats and 40-50% protein. This is great if you would like to lose body fat because the fats will be used as an energy source when the carbohydrate supply runs out.
There are a lot of supplements available on the market for powerlifters. Not all of them are worth the trouble though. However, there are some that can give you some good gains. Creatine is one of these and a favorite with many bodybuilders and powerlifters.
Effects, however, diminish after the fifth week and therefore cycles should only be four-five weeks long. Glucosamine and chondroitin are also loved because they improve joint stability and also improve cartilage lubrication and flexibility.