Weightlifting as a sport has its roots in the Olympic games. It was developed by several civilizations, including the Chinese, Indian, Ancient Greeks, and Egyptians. From inception, the sport has always been a measure and demonstration of strength. When you strip it down to the basics, weightlifting entails an athlete’s attempts to lift a barbel of maximum weight. Proper form and clear, precise movements act as the deciding factors to separate the good from the great. Weight lifting has been included in the Summer Games since 1896; however, the sport has undergone several changes. For example, significant strides were made in 1997 to make weightlifting more inclusive when women first competed in the World Games.
Since then, the sport has also moved from a club exclusively for athletes to the ‘mainstream’ fitness circles. Now, there is a thriving community of amateur weightlifters and those who take it up for exercise purposes alone.
No matter your reason for getting into the sport, one thing that remains standard for all weightlifters, professional and amateur alike, is nutrition. Weightlifting can be hard on the body. The incredible technique goes into getting the perfect lift. However, what you eat plays an equally crucial role in getting the best out of your training.
Why is nutrition so important?
When you are weightlifting, you are also building muscle and increasing your strength levels. While it is important to have adequate strength training, nutrition fills a critical gap. Getting larger muscles requires your body to break down existing muscle tissue during training before it builds bigger and stronger replacements.
However, the rebuilding process does not create raw materials from thin air. It requires the nutrients you take in through food for use as construction materials. If you are not diligent in your nutrition choices, you may lose muscle while training rather than gaining it.
How do you meet your nutritional needs?
First, remember that macros are key; proteins, carbohydrates, and fats hold the secret to improving in the sport. You must know how to combine them to get optimum results- starting with protein.
Protein provides your body with the essential building blocks to grow muscles. It is, perhaps, the most critical nutrient for any athlete or fitness enthusiast, more so for weightlifters. A group of sports nutritionists, Jose Antonio et al., even published an article in the 2015 edition of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition with their observations on this theory. They observed that a diet high in protein paired with heavy resistance training could enhance or improve the body composition of both men and women if they are healthy.
Moreover, if you are trying to gain muscle, it is recommended that you consume 1 gram of protein pound of body weight daily. (That converts to about 2.2 grams per kilogram).
Therefore, when you are planning your meals, try to include a source of protein in every meal – many lifters and trainers almost swear by this formula. The good news is that protein is abundant in many foods such as beef, chicken, dairy, whole grains, eggs, soy, seafood, and pulses. In addition, you can also facilitate muscle repair by making certain that even the snacks you have between meals contain adequate protein.
Beyond taking in enough protein, Tim Snijders et al. published findings in the Journal of Nutrition that stated the timing of protein ingestion is also important. They said in their article that ‘protein ingestion before sleep represents an effective dietary strategy to augment muscle mass and strength gains during resistance exercise training in young men’. This statement means that eating protein before you go to bed can help with overnight muscle recovery. Furthermore, you should not underestimate the benefit of timely nourishment immediately after each training session.
If you want to ensure that you are consuming the right quality and quantities of protein, you should also take protein supplements. Some of the most popular products like Muscle Pharm COMBAT 100% WHEY, Dymatize ISO 100, and GHOST Whey are easily accessible while acting as prime sources of the protein you need.
While protein is of particular interest, it is not the only beneficial nutrient you can rely on to help you meet your goals. Carbohydrates, or carbs, are just as vital. There are two types: simple and complex carbs. To get what you need, aim solely for complex carbs like green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, pulses and whole grains. These nutrients help you stave off muscle fatigue during and after training. In addition, the body is deterred from using essential protein stores as fuel instead of muscle builders through this method.
You are also advised to consume your carbohydrates after workout sessions. Weightlifters do not need to eat as many carbohydrates as other athletes like runners – while they are still the primary energy source, there is not much need for carbs beyond that. So, your targeted intake range must fall between 192 and 302 kilojoules for every kilogram of body weight.
The best supplements to help you meet your carb intake goals are mass gainers. With examples like Muscle Pharm- COMBAT XL MASS GAINER, Rule 1- R1 Gain, and Max’s- Absolute Mass, among others, you will be spoilt for choice in your quest for the right product.
Most of all, keep in mind that there is some wiggle room. The nutritional guidelines above are meant to act as a loose framework, not a concrete box. You may use them as mile markers that help you certify that you are going the right way. Beyond that, feel free to do what you think is best for yourself. You can tailor your nutrition to your preferences; indeed, you won’t be the only one. For example, Kendrick Farris, a 3-time olympian, is vegan, so he sources his protein from plants alone, yet that has not been a deterrent to his success.
Finally, approach your weightlifting nutrition with as much focus and organization as you do the physical exercise. With a bit of consistency, you will find success in your weightlifting training.