HOW NUTRITION CAN BOOST YOUR GAME
Strength and power athletes, like Olympic Lifters, Powerlifters or those that just enjoy strength training, rely on two central energy systems: the ATP-PCr pathway and the glycolytic pathway. These systems provide the rapid bursts of energy required for explosive movements. Fueling these energy pathways with the proper nutrients is essential for optimal performance.
ATP-PCr Pathway: This system uses stored creatine phosphate in the muscles to provide quick bursts of energy. It’s essential for short, intense efforts like lifting heavy weights or sprinting.
Glycolytic Pathway: The glycolytic pathway kicks in when ATP-PCr stores are depleted. It uses glucose and glycerol to transfer energy, fueling activities around 80 seconds.
ACHIEVING ENERGY BALANCE FOR ATHLETIC SUCCESS
Energy requirements for strength and power athletes vary based on age, gender, body mass, and activity level. Calculating your daily energy needs is essential to support your goals, whether gaining lean muscle or losing weight.
Lean Weight Gain: To gain lean muscle, you must consume a surplus of calories, typically 100-300 extra calories daily, for a 2-pound monthly gain.
Fat Loss: If you’re looking to shed excess weight, a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories below your total daily energy expenditure is recommended for safe, sustainable fat loss.
PROTEIN: THE KEY TO MUSCLE BUILDING AND RECOVERY
Protein is crucial for strength and power athletes because it aids in muscle repair and growth. Aim for a daily intake of 1.5-3.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, which usually translates to 12-15% of your daily energy intake.
Remember that excessive protein intake won’t lead to more muscle growth. Find your ideal protein intake to support muscle development without overdoing it.
CARBS: YOUR SOURCE OF EXPLOSIVE STRENGTH
Carbohydrates are your primary source of energy, especially during intense workouts. The amount of carbohydrates you need depends on your activity level and the length of your exercise sessions.
Short, Intense Activities: A moderate daily carbohydrate intake is sufficient if your workouts are short and intense, like sprints.
Longer, Intense Activities: Higher carbohydrate consumption is necessary to sustain energy levels for activities lasting over 30 seconds, like bodybuilding or rugby.
Choose nutrient-rich carbohydrates like oats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables for long-lasting energy.
FATS: FUELING YOUR ATHLETIC JOURNEY
While strength and power athletes need less fat compared to endurance athletes, it’s still essential for overall health, hormone production, and nutrient absorption. Aim for 25-35% of your daily energy intake from healthy fats.
Ensure a balanced intake of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats from sources like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and lean meats.
MICRONUTRIENTS: THE UNSUNG HEROES OF NUTRITION
Strength and power athletes should consider essential micronutrients like B vitamins, vitamins C and E, iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium. These nutrients support energy production, muscle function, and overall health.
Consider taking a daily multivitamin to fill any potential nutrient gaps, but prioritize whole foods in your diet.
HYDRATION: STAYING AT YOUR BEST
Proper hydration is vital for strength and power athletes, as even a 1-2% dehydration level can impact performance. Maintain optimal hydration levels by drinking enough fluids throughout the day, especially before, during, and after exercise.
If you train intensely in high heat, increase your fluid intake accordingly. Avoid unhealthy practices like cutting water weight for weight classes, as they can harm your performance and health.
NUTRIENT TIMING FOR PEAK PERFORMANCE
While the “anabolic window” isn’t as critical for strength and power athletes, consuming protein and carbohydrates before and after high-intensity workouts can aid in recovery and muscle growth.
SUPPLEMENTS FOR STRENGTH & POWER ATHLETES
Pre-training (0-1 hour): 30g protein with 30g fast-acting carbohydrates.
During training: A mix of fast-acting carbohydrates or BCAA powder.
Post-training (0-2 hours): 30-40g protein with 30g fast-acting carbohydrates.
SOME SUPPLEMENTS CAN BENEFIT STRENGTH AND POWER ATHLETES
CREATINE: Known for its muscle-building and performance-enhancing effects. Take 3-5g per day with carbohydrates.
NITRATES: Improve endurance and energy production. Consume from leafy greens or beetroot 60-120 minutes before exercise.
CAFFEINE: Enhance performance and fat loss. Take 400-600mg 30 minutes before high-intensity workouts.
BETA ALANINE: Delay muscle fatigue for high-intensity exercise. Dosages of 2-5g daily can help.
Remember, supplements should complement a well-balanced diet, not replace it. Always consult with a healthcare professional before adding supplements to your routine.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Nutrition plays a significant role in the success of strength and power athletes. To reach your full potential, focus on the right balance of macronutrients, stay hydrated, and consider supplements to support your goals. Remember that individual needs may vary, so listening to your body and adjusting your nutrition is essential.