Weightlifting Diet: 5 Essential Nutrition Principles for Olympic Weightlifters
Harsh reality, if you're not following a high-quality diet based around solid nutrition principles then you'll never reach anything even close to your maximum potential. This article breaks down five of the most essential nutrition principles for weightlifting performance. Let's get started shall we?
1) You Need More Protein In Your Diet Than You Think
There's a really good body of researching suggesting that strength athletes need to be eating between 0.8 and 1.2g of protein per pound of bodyweight. To keep this simple, I just go with the middle number and say 1g protein per pound bodyweight. So if you're a 90kg weightlifter, you should be eating 180g of protein per day. Not super difficult to hit, but I'm willing better more than half of the people reading this won't even be close to that number.
2) You Need to Do Some Form of Food Tracking
Look, I'm not saying you have to go full bodybuilder and weigh out every gram of your food in your diet, but we can all stand to learn something from the approach. Aiming to improve your weightlifting performance but having no idea what you've eaten for the past week is just dumb. And the good news is that being diligent and paying attention to what we eat isn't that hard. Realistically just hopping onto an app like MyfitnessPal for 5 minutes per day works great.
3) A Good Weightlifting Diet Doesn't Require As Many Calories as You Think
I've seen this happen way too many times (and I've fallen into the trap myself a couple of times too). You start training hard, and you think to yourself "I'm an athlete, I should be eating LOADS of food" Unfortunately, weightlifting doesn't actually burn all that many calories. 10 Heavy snatch or clean singles might seem like a lot of work, but in the grand scheme of sports training, it's really not. I can promise you now, overeating won't get you as strong as Moradi, but it might get you a similar physique. (Jokes aside though, the man's a phenomenal athlete)
Compare your typical weightlifting workout to a CrossFit athlete or an endurance swimmer. In a 2 hour session, you're probably looking at 15 to 20 sets, and about 60 reps. Whereas the CrossFit athlete is probably looking at 25 to 40 sets, with anything from 100 to 500 reps depending on the workouts that day. And the endurance swimmer is looking at 80-120 lengths, each with 38-52 strokes (reps), for an average total of 4500 reps! And yes as a weightlifter you'll be training heavier, but I can guarantee you that if you did 4500 super light reps of squats you'd be quick to see where I'm coming from.
4) Eat a Wide Variety of Different Coloured Fruits and Vegetables
If you're really interested in nutritional science you can research the vitamin and mineral profiles of every fruit and vegetable. But if you want to save yourself some time, nature has already divided the foods for you. Different micronutrient compositions create different colours in fruit and veg. So by eating a wide variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables, you'll automatically be giving yourself the best possible chance of getting everything you need to support your performance.
5) Time Your Carbohydrate Intake Properly
Timing your carb intake applies both within the day, and between days. Within the day, aim to eat plenty of carbs in the hours before, during and after training, as this is when your body is best primed to utilise them effectively.
Between days (i.e across the week) aim to consume slightly more carbs and calories on hard training days, and consume less carbs and calories on rest days or lighter training days. This is known as carb cycling, and should help with weight management and insulin sensitivity. . That's it for today, if you focus on nailing those 5 nutrition principles every single day then you'll be well on your way to maximising your weightlifting performance. And as always, if you're looking for a weightlifting coach who can help you dial in your nutrition and recovery, then you can book a quick call with me here. 'Til Next Time Alex