Powerlifting 18. My nutrition ... I don't diet ... I eat!

I like food ... a lot! I like cream cakes, curries, ice cream, chocolate and ... pretty much everything. I still eat these things, but not to the same extent that I did before. Previously I ate three meals a day out of habit, with the odd snack here and there, but I did not really pay too much attention to the quality or the quantity of the food I was consuming. What I can say though is that I was certainly overeating crap food and way too much of it, with the obvious consequences (see blog post 1) and this was no good for anybody!

When I started working out in the gym I did only cardio and was basically 'dieting and exercising' and I had no real idea what I was doing. I cut out as many fats and carbs as possible and got tired quickly. Certainly, I lost a hell of a lot of weight very quickly, but it was not sustainable and I would not recommend this approach. When I moved on to lifting weights (bodybuilding rather than powerlifting) I started to get my nutrition more under control. Eventually, I moved onto a bulking diet of around 3,200 calories per day and after doing this for around 8 to 10 months decided to cut back to see where I was up to, so reduced my calories gradually and added in some light cardio work also, just to burn off a few more. It was during this time that my interests turned to powerlifting, so my current diet is a remnant of my cutting diet.

It generally consists of the following:

Monday to Friday

5:45am dry-fried pancake of 50g oats, half-scoop of protein powder, 2 egg whites, one full egg, 40g sultanas (this is delicious and I really look forward to it!)

9:00am isolate protein shake with creatine (immediately after training)

9:30am 40g muesli with half a small pot of fat-free yoghurt

10:00 am banana

12:00pm half a container of whatever I have prepared for lunch (steak, chicken or fish/smoked salmon and vegetables or rice)

15:00pm second half of the above tub

18:00 whatever my wife has prepared for the family ... and this is where my daily nutrition tends to go off the rails because the meals are rarely healthy, on time or even existent! Of course, I could make this element of my nutrition under my control also (and sometimes do), but am prepared to continue with the current arrangement for the moment.

20:30 casein protein shake

If I get peckish between meals I will munch on a protein bar or on sesame seed breadsticks with reduced-fat cream cheese.

Saturday and Sunday

The routine here is not as strict, but I do keep a reasonably close eye on what I am consuming (most of the time). My family likes a cooked breakfast on one of the days and I have the job of preparing it, so I usually indulge myself. The sausages and eggs are fried in coconut oil and I tend to have two of each with a couple of hash browns and some baked beans. If I go to my mum's house on a Sunday, my good nutrition for that day is pretty much a write off!

Each day I start with a glass of water, followed by a strong coffee with or before my first meal. I tend to have a second coffee or a preworkout before training, but am now more in favour of the coffee and am just using up my last supplies of preworkout. I also take daily supplements of multi-vits, cod-liver oil, glucosamine, MSM and chondroitin (with breakfast), Ginkgo biloba, co-enzyme Q10 (with lunch) and BCAAs (during my workout). I keep an eye on the colour of my urine as an indicator of how hydrated I am and drink plenty of water accordingly.

Now that I am in the swing of things it takes me very little time to prepare my meals. I tend to batch cook on a Sunday ready for the week and my pancake and muesli for the next day are prepared in around 5 minutes when I get home from work.

Bulk food preparation on a Sunday, ready for the week (easy enough when you get in a routine!)

I understand the importance of the correct proportions of the various macro-nutrients, e.g. carbs, fats and proteins and know the theory of how to calculate them, but at present I cannot bring myself to adhere to such a strict regime. I tend to rely on my body to let me know if I am doing the right thing and so far it seems to be working and I am happy with the progress. If I need more macros, it is easy enough to adjust the amounts in my pancakes and muesli (indeed these are both now around 40% of what I was consuming when I was in the bulking phase mentioned above). I pretty much eat whatever I want, so long as I balance the macros and don't consume excessive calories. When I was bulking my intake was around 3,200 calories and consisted of around 50g fat, 400g carbs and 200g protein. I would estimate that my current diet consists of around 2,350 calories and comprises around 45g fat, 250g carbs and 180g protein. The bottom line is, if my pants start getting tight I am consuming too many calories and if I start getting hungry and unfocused on what I am doing then I am not getting enough calories.

So, how is my current nutrition measuring up?

The above graph represents my weight fluctuation over the month of August, 2016. The pink bars represent the weekend. My weight fluctuated over a range of 2.2kg, with an observable tendency for decrease (the trendline) over the period. However, the trendline shows a decrease of only around 0.75kg over this period AND the R2 value (at 0.03) is very low, showing that there is a great deal of variation above and below the trendline. However, there are some useful take home points from this. 1. My current nutrition is working as a basic maintenance/slight weight loss diet. 2. The significant decrease in Week 2 was the result of a concerted effort to make a 90kg weight at the powerlifting competition on the 13th (which I did). 3. My weight ALWAYS increases over the weekend, no doubt due to the combination of not training on these days and being much more relaxed about what I stuff into my face! So, from a weight loss perspective it is like taking two steps forwards and one step backwards. 4. If I choose to lose more weight to get down to a lower weight class then it should be easy enough to do by managing what happens at the weekend a little more carefully. I will continue weighing myself over the coming months and will reanalyze the data in due course (probably in around two months from now unless I feel something is going wrong before then). I will aim to maintain this slight weight loss trend.

Of course, nutrition (along with sleep/rest and training) is one of the three main components of any serious training program. Indeed, rather than diet and exercise, which is what I did when I first started in the gym, I now eat and train!

If you need to sort out your nutrition and are not sure where to turn, I would suggest you contact the guys at Freedom Strength for advice. They offer a great service and the results that I have seen are quite stunning! You can see plenty of examples and contact them via their facebook page by clicking their logo below.