Powerlifting requires a great deal of energy that only a healthy diet can provide. You must eat to support your training volume and intensity while avoiding overeating. The amount of calories you require depends on both your training volume and your size, but a few methods of achieving optimal performance remain constant to most dieting methods and allow you to train to your fullest.
As a powerlifter, you must consume more protein than someone who does not engage in regular resistance training. Increasing your protein intake improves your ability to recover from heavy workouts and build additional lean muscle mass. Obtain your protein from whole foods as much as possible. Foods such as red meat can be a staple of your diet, assuming you get lean cuts of meat. Milk is a good snack between meals, and you can supplement it with protein powder. The quantity of protein you should consume is based in part upon your training volume.
Carbohydrates give you the energy for heavy training in the gym. Fruit makes a good companion to your glass of milk between meals to keep your energy levels up. Whole grains and vegetables should be a mainstay of your diet, as they not only provide energy, but fiber as well. While you may not require the carbohydrate intake of a marathon runner, you certainly need carbohydrates to increase performance. Generally, avoid simple sugars -- carbohydrates that are quickly digested and give you a short-lived burst of energy. But if you feel particularly drained after a workout, a chocolate bar or pastry can give you a fast infusion of energy to help you recover.
You need fat in your diet not only as a source of calories, but to keep your joints healthy and your hormone production stable. A diet low in fat will reduce your ability to produce hormones critical for muscle growth. To avoid saturated fats and trans fats, cook with olive oil, for example. The inclusion of nuts and seeds in your diet provides omega-3 fatty acids, important for the production of steroidal hormones. If you eat animal protein, choose lean meat cuts to minimize your intake of saturated fats.
How much you should eat depends upon your goals. If you are struggling to stay within your weight class, limit your fat and carbohydrate intake as much as you can without it negatively affecting your training. If you are going to cut calories, make gradual changes at first, no more than 250 calories a day should be cut. Sudden changes in your diet often result in sudden problems in your training. You can always adjust your calories up or down depending on your performance in the weight room. If you are climbing a weight class, do not drastically increase your calories, as fat does not move weight on the platform. Eat nutritious meals and snacks, and slowly add muscle mass. A nutritionist specializing in athlete's nutrition is a good source of advice on how much of a serving you need.
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- "Journal of Sports Science"; Protein and Amino Acids for Athletes; K.D. Tipton, January 2004
- "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research"; The Effect of a Carbohydrate and Protein Supplement on Resistance Exercise Performance, Hormonal Response, and Muscle Damage; J.J. Baty, et al; May 2007
- "The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology"; Diet and Serum Sex Hormones in Healthy Men; E. Hämäläinen, et al.; January 1984
- "Physiological Aspects of Sports Training and Performance"; J.R. Hoffman; 2002
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.