In this installment of this series I will be discussing some very important nutritional mistakes that you want to avoid for optimal powerlifting performance. I have received hundreds of emails about this series alone as it has really sparked some interest in our readers. Nutritional mistakes among powerlifters is as about as common as white on rice. The purpose of this series is to help powerlifters fix up many of their nutritional mistakes that are ruining all their hard work in the gym. If you know that your nutritional plan has much to be desired, then read on so you can start implementing some of my ideas into your powerlifting nutrition plan.
Not Counting Your Calories
Now, I first want to let you know that counting your calories is something all powerlifters should do. I know the arrogant out there reading this will think that I am advocating some type of sissy plan that will have you dining on carrot sticks and tofu, but this is not the case. It is very important for the powerlifter to know how his or her daily caloric intake. If you don’t monitor your caloric intake and just eat what you want, then how will you know from a nutrition standpoint when you are performing at your best? Many of you may think this is irrelevant in powerlifting, but that is not the case. It is time for powerlifters to come out of the dark ages with their mindset about sports nutrition. On the other hand if you are interested in how this can affect your performance read on. Many of you will tell me that counting calories is for the genetically obese or for some pre contest bodybuilder looking to get ripped to shreds but this is the farthest thing from the truth. By calculating your calories you will then be able to monitor exactly what macronutrient breakdown percentage you are consuming in your diet. If you read the Power Nutrition Column in the February issue of Powerlifting USA, then you can see how one powerlifter was shocked at what he was consuming in terms of his macronutrient balance and ratios when his daily diet was laid out to him on paper. Counting calories has many benefits as well. You will learn what caloric intake helped your performance the most. You will know at what caloric intake you start to increase your fat stores. You will learn at what caloric intake you can drop body fat without sacrificing lean muscle tissue. Your recovery is another very important aspect that is most definitely correlated to your daily caloric intake. Do you remember how you felt the last time you were in an over trained state? Think back to what your nutrition intake was the last couple weeks prior to your over training bout. If you are not recovering properly from your training then the only thing that you can look forward to is lack of progress with your lifts and constant injuries. Does this sound like you? Now do you think that it’s important to watch your caloric intake? Counting your calories will benefit you more than you can imagine, so if you have avoided this in the past thinking it had no place in powerlifting, think again! These are just a few reasons why counting your calories will have a powerful effect on your powerlifting success.
Not Consuming Enough Protein for Your Needs
I know that I have mentioned this in the past but this one cannot be overemphasized. Most powerlifters do not consume the optimal amount of protein in their diet. Its plain and simple. Most think that they are getting their fair amount but once again when its laid out in front of them, they find out they are way below what they should be taking in on a daily basis. Protein intake is also different for each individual. There are many variables that must be looked at when calculating how much you need on a daily basis. You have to look at your total weight, your lean tissue weight, your caloric intake, your energy expenditure, your sport, your basal metabolic rate, your meal frequency, your goal- to lose, gain or maintain your weight, your level of insulin sensitivity or resistance, and the thermic effect of food and more. If you don’t eat enough protein much of your hard work in the gym will be wasted! I know this sounds harsh but it’s the truth. Not eating enough protein on a daily basis is one of the biggest nutrition reasons why people fail to accomplish their goals. If you are letting your body go into a negative nitrogen balance and are constantly allowing yourself to go into a catabolic state, then you can say goodbye to hitting a new PR as often as you would like. Remember muscle is made from protein and water so if you are not eating enough protein daily, you body will breakdown your lean muscle tissue and use this as an energy source. If you like to see your strength shoot down, your muscle mass diminish and the fat around your waist to increase to new heights then don’t eat much protein.
Avoiding your Complex Carbs and Choosing Refined Carbs
This is another mistake that I see a lot of powerlifters making with their nutritional plans. A large majority of powerlifters choose the wrong types of carbohydrates in their diet. From what I have gathered, powerlifters love refined carbs and simple sugars to the better low glycemic complex carbs. If you are guilty of this mistake you can look forward to not only more body fat, lower volume workload capacity, but a list of some really nice health problems latter in life. When you eat complex low glycemic carbohydrates they will provide you with a much longer sustained energy release than simple carbohydrates. The majority of powerlifter’s carbohydrate consumption should come from them as they will have a greater impact on your performance, recovery, strength increases and muscular growth. Now don’t get me wrong, simple sugars and carbohydrates do play a role in the powerlifter’s meal plan, but the constant misuse and abuse of them will only cause a decrement in performance. Complex and fibrous carbohydrates including oatmeal, yams, brown rice, potatoes, ancient grains, whole-wheat pasta, flaxseed bread, vegetables, and salads should be the main staples in your diet. Simple and refined carbohydrates like white pasta, white bread, white bagels, fruit juice, sugar loaded sports drinks, white rice, candy bars, potato chips, crackers, muffins and such should not be a major part of your nutritional plan. Once you start implementing more complex carbohydrates in your plan you will notice an increase in energy, decrease in body fat, increased volume workload, and an increase in your overall health. You will also notice that your energy levels will be more stable throughout the day without having those ups and downs that are seen mid day or after a meal.
Not Drinking Enough Water
“I only drink water when I am thirsty.” If this is you then you can look forward to sub par performances in the gym and that’s a guarantee. If you allow your body to get dehydrated and expect to perform at your best, you better think again. Proper hydration is very important for the powerlifter. Allowing your body to be constantly in a state of dehydration will not only cause your performance and strength to decrease, but it can also cause an array of health problems. Consuming a diet high in sodium, which is basically the classic American Diet, without consuming large amounts of water will definitely help increase your chances for high blood pressure. Kidney stones are another health ailment faced by individuals that do not drink enough water on a daily basis. If you know anyone that has had kidney stones they will tell you that it is about as painful as childbirth. So I guess the thought of passing a kidney stone the size of a jawbreaker will definitely help motivate you to drink more water in your nutrition plan. Drinking water will also help eliminate toxins that would otherwise stay inside your body. Doesn’t that sound sweet? Nothing like having an array of different toxins floating through your blood steam causing a multitude of different health problems. Increased water consumption will also help you with building muscle. Drinking more water will help you with a process called cell volumization. This is the process where nutrients like amino acids, glucose, creatine, and more can be pulled inside the muscle cell at an increased rate. Once inside the cell protein synthesis can occur to help increase your lean muscle tissue. One last point, your body can’t burn fat if you are dehydrated. Water will help liberate fat stores so that they will be burned of as an energy source. So if you are looking to build muscle, burn fat, eliminate harmful toxins from your blood, and keep your organs functioning properly, make sure you are drinking plenty of water.
Not Eating Enough Fiber
This is another major mistake that I see powerlifters making on a consistent basis. Now many of you may think that eating more fiber in your diet along with a yoga class will help you get in touch with your softer side. No, this is definitely what I am trying to push here, even though this is the type of attitude that I get from some powerlifters when I mention that they need to increase their fiber consumption. Fiber should be a major part of the powerlifter’s meal plan and for many reasons. Colon cancer is no doubt one of the major killers for males in the United States among heart disease. By increasing your fiber intake you can help reduce your chances for getting both of these horrible diseases. Now I know that you are probably reading this column to find out how my nutritional secrets will help to improve your powerlifting performance, not as a longevity column helping you to live well into your 100th year. The fact is many powerlifters suffer from a multitude of health conditions especially those above the age of thirty. As powerlifters we should not only be interested in hitting that next PR or world record, but longevity in the sport as well. Powerlifters too often overlook fiber; thinking that it’s only function is to help you embarrass your family members at your next important function. This is not the case as there is many other functions and purposes to this very important nutrient. Fiber will help keep your bowel movements regular, help with the digestion and absorption of your foods, and clear toxins from the body among a multitude of other health benefits. As powerlifters we should be getting in between 30 and 50 grams of fiber every day. If you are not consuming adequate amounts of fiber in your diet now is the time to start thinking about your colon health. I would bet that probably over 95% of those reading this article are nowhere in this range of daily fiber intake. If you have been lazy with your fiber consumption it would most definitely be a good idea to start increasing it. If you are like most and are guilty of not eating enough don’t go and try to consume 50 grams tomorrow when everyday for the last 20 years you haven’t been consuming more than 10 grams a week. If you do you will feel like you swallowed a cheese grater sideways. If you think that’s bad imagine how you are going to feel the next morning. Start slowly and increase the amount every week or so until you reach an amount that will be comfortable for your body and health. You will know when you have reached the right amount. You should be having at least 2 bowel movements per day and the minimum amount should at least 12 inches in length per day. They should not have a foul odor as this shows signs of toxicity in the body and they should float. I know this may sound a little weird in a powerlifting magazine but proper colon health cannot be overlooked, especially since improper colon health takes so many American lives each and every year. In the near future I will be doing an in depth series on cleansing the body of impurities to not only increase your performance but to rid your body of all the toxins that you have built up over the years. Colon cleansing will be covered in this series and how it can not only benefit your training but your health and longevity as well.
In this installment of Powerlifting Mistakes, I tried to give you the 411 on some more of the most overlooked nutritional mistakes for powerlifters. I know that this was only supposed to be a four part series but I will be extending it for one more part. In the next issue I will be covering the last bunch of nutritional blunders that are keeping powerlifters from reaching their ultimate potential. By fixing your nutritional inadequacies you will not only reach new heights in your powerlifting career, but you will improve the health of your body so that you will be enjoying the sport that you love so much a lot longer!
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