Dissecting And Rebuilding Your Daily Nutrition

Getting Serious about Powerlifting Nutrition!

Dissecting And Rebuilding Your Daily Nutrition
Author Writter Image By: Anthony Ricciuto B.Phed C.F.T., S.P.N., F.T., S.W.M.
(AS Reprinted From PL USA)

Powerlifting nutrition for the elite & beginning powerlifter.....

Jeremy Klugerman wrote to Anthony Ricciuto asking the following questions and seeking professional help in regards to the nutritional program that was set up for him by his dietician...

I first want to start off telling you how much I like your column. One thing that I like is that I always seem to learn something new about proper nutrition every time I pick up a new issue of Powerlifting USA. You seem to give us good info and yet some of your articles are quite humorous as well.

I have been powerlifting for 5 years now and I am in the 198-pound class. I am currently seeing a dietician for a nutritional program. I have included my sample program below.

One thing that I noticed with the program that she gave me is that it is quite different from a lot of the recommendations that you give in your column. Why is that? Isn't nutrition the same thing for everyone? Do you agree with the type of plan that she has set up for me? Is there anything that you would change?

I am trying to go up a weight class so that I will be a full 220 pounds. My strength is not as good as I thought it would be seeing a dietician. Is there a reason for this? I know that you really hype up this whole nutrition thing so why am I not getting the results that other powerlifters are getting with their program?

If you can please help me out I would greatly appreciate it. I also wanted to know if you work with powerlifters and athletes that are not World and National champions.

Gray FrankI know that you work with the likes of Garry Frank and some of the World's Strongest Man competitors including Great Britain's Strongest Man Glen Ross, so I know you are the real deal when it comes to who you work with. I noticed that the majority of your clientele is the cream of the crop when it comes to the strength world.

Please let me know if you can help me. Thank you for your time.

Jeremy's Daily Nutritional Plan

Day 1
Breakfast 7:00 AM
2 cups of Special K cereal
1 glass of Orange Juice
8oz of 1% Milk
1 apple
Lunch 1:00 PM
1 can of Tuna
2 cups of Garden Salad
1 apple
Snack 5:00 PM
2 cups of Celery Sticks
Dinner 9:00 PM
5 oz Chicken Breast
1 cup of White Rice
1 Cup of Broccoli
Day 2
Breakfast 7:00 AM
6 Egg Whites
2 Slices of Whole Wheat Toast
1 apple
Lunch 12:00 PM
5oz of Ground Beef
2 Cups of Romaine Lettuce
1 Cup of Carrots
Snack 5:00 PM
1 Orange
Dinner 9:00 PM
5 oz of Halibut
1 cup of White Rice
1 cup of Asparagus
Day 3
Breakfast 8:00 AM
1 Bagel with Peanut Butter
8 oz. of Orange Juice
1 apple
Lunch 1:00 PM
1 Tuna Sandwich
2 Cups of Salad
1 apple
Snack 5:30 PM
1 Energy Bar
Dinner 9:00 PM
5oz of Chicken
1 cup of Pasta
1 cup of Carrots

After reading Jeremy's questions and concerns about his current nutritional program, Anthony responded with these thoughts, facts, and pieces of informational advice. Used them to evaluate any daily nutritional program, but it is specifically targeted to those who wish to gain size and strength...

Thank you for the kind words. I am happy to hear that you learn something new every time that you read my column. One of the main things that I am trying to do with my column here at Powerlifting USA is to keep powerlifters on the cutting edge of sports nutrition and supplementation. I know that many of you find my column funny at times but the truth is, the examples that I do give are real life scenarios that I have experienced in the powerlifting nutrition trenches so to speak.

Types Of Professional Help

The first thing that I want to let you know is that there are many types of professionals that practice nutrition. There are Dieticians, Holistic Nutritionists, Sports Nutritionists, Naturopath Nutritionists and more. Even though all of them study the same topics in school, and some even use the same texts, the fact remains that their thinking all differ as they follow different schools of thought.

Many Dieticians work in a hospital or clinical setting where the large majority of their clientele are individuals that suffer from health ailments. Holistic Nutritionists look at nutrition from many different "Holistic" angles looking to cleanse the body and spirit and keep the body in an equilibrium that will promote optimal health. The Sports Nutritionist's main focus is too increase an athletes performance or to change their physique, such as preparing individuals for bodybuilding or fitness competitions.

The reason why my recommendations would be different than your Dietician is because even though the area of study is the same, the thinking or methodology is different. If you were to visit a Dietician, a Holistic Nutritionist and a Sports Nutritionist, each one would have a different type of plan to help you reach your goal. Now the question is, will all the nutrition plans be just as good as the other since they are all professionals in the field of nutrition?

The answer is clearly NO! If you were an athlete of any sport let alone a strength athlete, your best choice would definitely be to work with a Sports Nutritionist. There is no doubt about that. To take things further since you are a strength athlete being a powerlifter, wouldn't it make sense to work with someone who specializes their study and practice with strength athletes?

Of course it would. So my advice to you would be to start working with a sports nutritionist that specializes with strength athletes to design customized nutritional and supplementation programs.

Personal Opinion

If you want my opinion about the program that she has designed, you might not like it. The program is way off in regards to what goals you are trying to accomplish. Yes the above plan is what would be considered in nutrition circles as "Clean Eating" but having it help you reach your goal as a powerlifter, is a total different story. So let's see what's wrong with the plan that you sent me.

You told me that you want to go up a weight class so how can you pack on weight eating like a mouse? There is no way on earth that you are going to pack on any weight, whether it be fat or muscle with the above type plan that you are using. You have to increase your caloric intake by a substantial amount if you want to see any type of difference on the scale. Your total caloric intake is very important so if you are below maintenance intake then you will lose weight not gain it.

Caloric intake is also very important for your strength levels. If your calories are too low for your energy expenditure you will be going backwards with your progress instead of forward. This is something that you definitely don't want to do. So the first thing on your agenda is to increase your caloric intake, otherwise you will be spinning your wheels with no success.

Where Is Your Protein?

Your next mistake with this plan is your protein intake. Not only is the total daily protein intake too low, but also your protein per meal intake is not sufficient. Both of these are very important mistakes. I will let you know plain and simple. If you are training hard and you are not taking in the optimal amount of protein that your body needs to recover and replenish from your hard workouts, much of your time in the gym will be wasted. This doesn't sound so good does it?

Of course not! Who wants to shed blood and tears in the gym only to throw your hard work out the window along with your success? Your total protein intake and grams per meal consumed is very important to the powerlifter so you better increase your amount if you want to see some progress.

Where Are Your Healthy Fats?

Where are the healthy fats in your diet?

Most of you already know that these are your Omega 3-6-9 fats. Having a diet void of your healthy fats is not a good idea for any one let alone a strength athlete. If you avoid these fats you can look forward to higher levels of bad cholesterol and tryglycerides, more injuries including problems with joint pain and tendonitis, lower hormonal levels including testosterone, and an increased rate of insulin resistance.

Now if you look above at the problems that can be caused by avoiding your healthy fats doesn't it seem to be a good idea for them to be a major staple in your nutrition plan? This is one mistake that should not have been overlooked with your plan. Even to this day with all the studies that prove healthy fats should be a major part of your diet, some dieticians still place little value on them. Leaving out your fats will most definitely leave your total flat so make sure you include them in your nutritional plan.

Improper Fluid Intake!

Proper hydration is another problem that I see with your plan. As we speak you are in a state of dehydration. Just remember you need plenty of water as it helps with many processes and functions in your body. If you allow your body to get dehydrated then you can get used to having poor performance in the gym. If you allow yourself to become even 3% dehydrated, then you will cause a decrement in your strength. You can also get used to carrying more body fat than your competitor that does drink his water.

Lastly you can also look forward to a multitude of health conditions that you most likely won't find amusing. These include high blood pressure and kidney stones. I am comfortable to say that the majority of powerlifters don't drink enough water per day. If this is you its time to step up to the water cooler and fill your jug because your performance and health will thank me later.

Improper Meal Frequency And Meal Timing

Another problem that I see is that you are not eating enough times per day. You should be eating at least 6 times per day. This will keep the metabolism elevated and keep you in a positive nitrogen balance throughout the day. This will also keep your blood sugar levels stable and will prevent insulin spikes that will drain all your energy and increase your fat stores. The times of your meals or what is called "Meal Timing" in the nutrition field is also a problem. Your meal timing is too sporadic and this can be a problem. You should be eating something at least every three hours. You are going too many hours without eating and this can throw a monkey wrench into your program.

Unbalanced Macronutrient Profile

One very big mistake, which is also one that is very complicated, is your macronutrient ratios. Macronutrients are your proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. As a strength athlete you need a specific ratio of each of these in each meal.

Of course these ratios change throughout the day and can change to your body's response to the program. Your goal, body fat percentage, level of insulin sensitivity or resistance, hydration level and many other factors will play a role in the sports nutritionist laying out specific macronutrient ratios in your customized nutrition plan.

I won't go into this completely here as a book could be written on this topic alone. The importance of this mistake cannot be overemphasized, as this is where a large part of the customization process takes place when a sports nutritionist is designing your meal plan.

No Pre Workout And Post Workout Nutrition Plan

One very important thing your Dietician forgot is your pre and post workout nutrition plan. Where are they? What you eat before and after your training plays a major role in your success. If your nutrition plan doesn't have these included in them then you are definitely getting shortchanged on your results.

Your pre workout meal will dictate how much volume workload you can handle, your strength level, how stable your blood sugar level will be, and how much fat you will be burning from your workout. Your post workout nutrition plan will have a major impact on the rate of recovery from your training, how much muscle and strength you will gain, and how elevated your metabolism will stay.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as it gets much more complicated than this. As you can see if you are not having your pre workout and post workout nutrition plan optimized you will be throwing much of your progress out the window.

Jack Up Your Fiber

Fiber is another aspect of your plan that we have to take a look at. Yes you are getting some fiber in your plan with your vegetables and salads, but not nearly enough for your goals. Fiber is often the overlooked nutrient especially with strength athletes.

Too many of us think that it doesn't play a role in the powerlifter's diet, but this is the farthest thing from the truth. Optimal fiber intake is very important not only for your performance but your health as well. Colon cancer is one of the biggest killers in the United States so eating the optimal amount of fiber on a daily basis will help keep you from becoming a statistic.

You need to increase your daily fiber intake especially since you will be increasing your protein intake, as this will make sure to keep the plumbing in proper working order.

Micronutrient Deficiencies

Another concern that I have with your plan is the fact that you most likely have micronutrient deficiencies as well. These include your fat and water-soluble vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. Having an imbalance with your micronutrients is something that you don't want to have since they perform many functions and physiological processes in the body.

Looking at what you are eating combined with the fact that you aren't using a multi-vitamin/mineral formula shows that you are not reaching the proper micronutrient ratios that you need to perform at your best and to keep your body healthy.

Putting This All Together

As you can see here there are many glitches in your program and as a strength athlete you cannot afford to have one of these major mistakes let alone as many as I have pointed out here in this column. Your program doesn't just need a fine tuning it needs a reconstruction. You asked me why you are not getting the results that you thought you should be seeing a dietician but the answer is clear.

There are too many critical mistakes with your plan that will hold back the progress you should be making. This is why you are failing to gain weight and also why you are not seeing some good strength increases as well. Remember, not every professional in the nutrition industry follows the same school of thought and this in itself is a very important aspect that must be considered before working with someone for your plan.

Yes ... your current plan is much cleaner than the large majority of lifters diets that I have seen, but just eating clean is not going to get you that record you want. Many lifters mistake eating clean with optimal strength nutrition and this can be a major deception for those that are not schooled in the nutritional sciences.

The problem with the above type plan that you sent me is that a large majority of powerlifters think that this is the type of nutrition plan that I am recommending when I talk about proper meal planning. This is definitely not the case as meal planning for a strength athlete and those just looking to eat healthy is as different as night and day.

Yes it is true that I do work with the majority of the world's best strength athletes from different sports, but they are not my only clients. I do enjoy working with the best of the best when it comes to the strength scene but one aspect that I really like is taking just your average lifter and turning him or her into something great.

As many coaches will tell you it is a great feeling to have your athletes surpass barriers and reach levels they never thought possible. So yes I do work with clients that are not multiple national or world champions as well.

In short, I hope that I gave you the 411 on your current nutrition plan and the many mistakes that will keep you away from the PR that you are training so hard to get.

Thanks, Anthony Ricciuto

Tags: Athlete Nutrition Supplements Protein General Health Whole Foods

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