Nutritional Mistakes to Ruin Your Powerlifting Success
Yes, the final part of this series is here. My main objective in writing this series is to inform powerlifters of the many nutritional blunders that they are making and how to fix these problems to best improve their performance. I am going to help you stop making nutritional mistakes so that you will get stronger, have less injuries and make sure that you stick around this planet a lot longer. Here I have laid out the final nutritional mistakes that will keep you from reaching your ultimate potential in powerlifting.
Avoiding Healthy Fat
Fat…The wonder macronutrient that seems to be getting a lot of press lately. If you are a regular reader of my nutrition column then you will know that I am a big fan of fat. No, not the kind that gives you an extra tire around your waste, or the kind that makes your legs look as if they were created out of cottage cheese, but the healthy fats. Telling powerlifters to consume healthy fats is much harder then telling them to eat bad fats. Most healthy fats taste horrible while the bad fats taste really good. If powerlifters consumed more healthy fats, their health and performance would be taken to a new level. Powerlifters consume way too much saturated fat and trans fatty acids while their intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are no where to be seen. You need specific amounts of your Omega 3-6-9 fats depending on your goals and variables. These healthy fats will help lower your cholesterol, decrease tendon inflammation, increase insulin sensitivity, and increase hormonal production including our favorite… TESTOSTERONE. These are just a few of the benefits that healthy fats provide to the serious powerlifter. If you are not including healthy fats in your nutrition plan, start kicking them in as your health and powerlifting total will be glad you did!
Not Taking a Multivitamin
This is one mistake that I see over and over. Many powerlifters that I consult with don’t take a multivitamin/mineral formula. One thing that we have to remember here is that the large majority of powerlifters don’t provide their bodies with the optimal amount of micronutrients that they need on a daily basis. This can definitely be a problem especially since many powerlifters are not getting the proper amounts of micronutrients from the foods that they eat. What this spells out for the strength athlete is disaster. Vitamins and minerals have many different purposes in the body and if you are deficient in even just one of these micronutrients then you will not be performing at your best. Micronutrients regulate many different physiological processes in the body. These include muscle contraction, regulation of your heartbeat, the absorption and transportation of the food that you eat, the production of hormones and a lot more. If you are allowing your body to be constantly deficient in one or more micronutrients you can not only look forward to a sub par performance, but an increased rate of injuries and over training. Taking a multivitamin/mineral formula is definitely a very important part of your nutritional program so make sure that you take yours on a consistent basis.
Not Maximizing your Carbohydrate Intake
I know that you won’t like to hear this one but the large majority of powerlifters are not maximizing their carbohydrate intake. They consume not only too many carbs, but the worst types, at the wrong times, and combined with the wrong foods. The problem that I have seen with powerlifters in regards to carbohydrate usage is that they don’t know how to use them in their nutritional plan to their advantage. First off many powerlifters eat too many total grams of carbohydrates per day. Remember if you are consuming more carbs than you are burning in a day, your chance of storing them as fat is very likely. Many powerlifters also eat too many grams of carbs at each meal. This is another problem that will not only help you to feel sluggish but will also help with increasing your fat stores. The next problem is the types of carbohydrates that are consumed. Most powerlifters love simple sugars and refined carbohydrates. Very few powerlifters use the glycemic index or insulin index when they are choosing their carbohydrate sources as well. This is a mistake in itself. Powerlifters are also guilty of not consuming the right carbs at the right time. This is most evident with their pre workout, post workout, breakfast and evening meals. Carbohydrates used in the right manner can really help to improve your performance, but when they are misused they can also be the macronutrient that can cause you the most problems as well. Optimizing your carbohydrate intake is very important for the powerlifter so don’t think that this is something that should be taken lightly.
Having a Wimpy Breakfast
Looking at the size and strength of powerlifters you would think that the large majority of them would be eating like a Sherman tank come breakfast time. Well from a large majority of my clients many eat a wimpy breakfast. Yes you heard correctly. I have clients that are super heavyweights that used to start off their day with coffee and a muffin. Now what’s funny about this whole scenario is that the gentlemen that told me this thought this was pretty good. I almost fell out of my chair when he told me that. He told me that he used to have a coffee and a doughnut for breakfast but since he was trying to go after the “Healthy Lifestyle” he switched over to a chocolate chip muffin. Is this a joke or what? A coffee and a muffin wouldn’t provide enough nutrients for a cockroach let alone a 340 pound man that is planning on putting over 800 pounds on his back. Eating a wimpy breakfast will have you lifting wimpy weights latter in the day. If you want to look and lift like a true strength athlete then you better eat a power packed breakfast that is going to fuel you through your tough workout. How are you supposed to keep your basal metabolic rate high when you start off your day eating like a mouse? Think about it for a minute. Your body has gone 8 hours of sleep without any food. You wake up, your metabolism is just begging for some power packed nutrients and you feed it coffee and a muffin. How are you going to maximize your glycogen stores to fuel you through your workout eating like that? How are you going to keep yourself in anabolic state that will help you to increase your lean tissue and strength eating worse than a couch potato? Just to let you in on something here. We are strength athletes and we have to eat like strength athletes if we want to truly reach our potential in the sport. Your breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and you should make sure that you are eating a balanced and nutrient dense breakfast that will provide your body with the fuel that it needs to accomplish your goals. Remember if you want to succeed feed the machine!
Distributing Your Calories Improperly
Here is another mistake that I see all the time with powerlifters. If you are looking to maximize your performance you have to look at how you distribute your calories throughout the day. One of the biggest mistakes in regards to improperly distributing your calories is those who eat a wimpy breakfast like the guilty super heavyweight that I mentioned above, but yet these same individuals eat a boat load of junk food right before retiring for the night. Now let’s take a look at what’s wrong with this scenario. When your metabolic rate is revved up and is begging for nutrients first thing in the morning you provide it with a breakfast that has absolutely no nutritional value. Sounds really good doesn’t it? Now when your metabolic rate is slowing down for the night, you load your stomach to full capacity with simple sugars, refined carbohydrates, sodium, food coloring, preservatives, nitrates, saturated fats, trans fatty acids and a host of other “Nutritious Goodies” right before bedtime. Can you see what’s wrong with this picture? At the time when your body needs a steady dose of nutrients, you starve it. Now when you need specific nutrients to help you recover from your intense training session, you supply it with garbage that will only help to give you low blood sugar, increase your fat stores, and help to increase your chances of health conditions like insulin resistance and diabetes. Distributing your calories throughout the day in a scientifically laid out formation will have a big difference on your performance. When the body is in need of nutrients you have to supply it with what it needs otherwise much of the hard work that you perform in the gym will be wasted. Many powerlifters don’t count their calories let alone focus on their distribution throughout the day. Distributing your calories incorrectly will cause you to increase your fat stores, put you in a muscle wasting state, slow down your metabolic rate and will increase your recovery time. If this sounds good to you then just continue eating what you want, when you want, in the portion size that you want, and you can at least keep your fingers crossed hoping that you have hit the nutrition nail on the head.
Change your Mindset about Powerlifting Nutrition
I know that a lot of you reading my articles are somewhat skeptical about this whole nutrition thing. Many think that since powerlifters have done well so far without following scientifically designed customized nutrition programs, then why would we need them now. The nutritional aspect in our sport has been sadly overlooked. The advances in powerlifting equipment whether you are for or against it has taken unbelievable jumps in progress. Yet many lifters are still eating as poorly if not worse than those two decades ago. If you take a look at almost every sport from boxing to bodybuilding to running, athletes of these sports are constantly looking for the nutritional edge that will help take their performance over the top. As bad as it may sound the large majority of powerlifters have not put that much effort into their nutritional regiment and this is one of the major reasons why many powerlifters health in latter years is not as good as it could be. My ultimate goal writing for Powerlifting USA is to help powerlifters reach their optimal performance and increase their health and longevity in this sport. But even before I can do this I have to change the powerlifting mindset about proper nutritional practices and only from here can I take your total to new heights.
Not Having your Program Designed by a Professional
Now this may sound like a case of shameless self-promotion here but its not. If you have never sat down with a sports nutritionist before now is the time to have a professional customize a nutritional program to help you reach your goals. I know many of you probably go through my articles trying to put many pieces of the nutrition puzzle together but the truth is you won’t be able to fine tune a nutrition program without some guidance. When a sports nutritionist constructs a program for you through a detailed nutrition and supplementation analysis he will be customizing a program to your specific needs and goals. With a customized program your nutritional plan will be specifically catered to you and won’t be some type of generic cookie cutter plan. Many of the things that would be considered no big deal to the average lifter, when it comes to a nutrition plan, can make a big difference with your results. At the same time your sports nutritionist will be constantly monitoring your weight, body fat percentage, your pounds of lean tissue and the water content of your body. He should also be keeping track of different medical factors like your blood pressure rating, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and much more. Another thing that will be very important in your success is that he should also have you get blood work done including testing you for your level of insulin sensitivity among other things. As you can see just trying to throw a few of my ideas together and consulting with a sports nutritionist for program design is like night and day. When you are working with a qualified sports nutritionist they will be able to analyze your program from many different angles. This is something that you won’t be able to do. Another thing that you have to understand is that any type of plan that you do follow will only work for so long. It’s the same thing with your training. This is one of the benefits of the Conjugate Method of training that is promoted by the world’s best powerlifting coach Louie Simmons. This valuable principle is also true with your nutrition and supplementation program. This is one of the things that a sports nutritionist will d
o with your nutrition plan. Constantly altering your program will keep your body guessing. This way your body won’t adapt to what you are doing with it and you will continually make progress. If you have never worked with a sports nutritionist that specializes with strength athletes there is no better time to get your plan on track and make your nutritional mistakes a thing of the past.
In the final part of this series I hope that I have enlightened you with many ideas that you can now apply to your nutritional program. Of course these are not all the nutritional mistakes that I have seen among powerlifters as this could take an entire book to cover all the things that I have witnessed over the last 10 years. If powerlifters took their nutritional mistakes as serious as their training then we would definitely see totals even more unbelievable than we are seeing today. If you are guilty of many of the nutrition mistakes that I have mentioned over the past five issues, it is now time to clean up your act and get your nutrition plan on track. Just remember if you aren’t maximizing your nutritional plan, your competition is!
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