Weightlifters are the true definition of wonders, combining the physical ability to push beyond limits, power and strength. A weightlifter works like any other athlete. They both strive for optimum performance every step of the way. Weightlifting is a sport that calls for the ability of every participant to want more and to better themselves. It is physically and emotionally draining and requires much more than just lifting heavier weights at the gym. To be an efficient weightlifter, one has to undergo rigorous preparation.
A lot goes into the necessary preparation. One may think it is all about perfecting technique, performance or lifting heavier weights, but that is not all there is. The most critical aspect of weightlifting is nutrition. Consuming the correct diet is important for weightlifters as their bodies demand a lot of fuel to perform at their best.
Weightlifters looking to gain strength cannot simply stuff their faces and hope for the best. They require different nutrition than the average person. As a weightlifter, when you leave your nutrition behind, your performance and recovery will, in turn, deteriorate.
What to eat
Healthy and well-balanced meals are, of course, a key aspect of a good diet. Ideally, a weightlifter has to consume the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fat.
Protein is an essential nutrient for fitness as it's needed for resistance-training sports activities. Statistics show that the combination of protein and a heavy resistance training program improves the body composition of both healthy men and women.
There are several reasons why protein is important. For one, it is imperative for muscle repair after damage from heavy lifting and speeds us muscle gain. Many lifters incorporate beef, chicken, seafood, eggs, pulses, nuts, dairy and whole grains in their diet as a source of protein. These foods guarantee the constant repair of muscles after they have been broken down into amino acids.
Protein is indisputably fundamental to weightlifters, but one cannot neglect the need for carbohydrates and fats for a balanced diet. Carbohydrates are a great source of energy. Weightlifters are slightly different from endurance athletes because they do not require a lot of carbs. For these athletes, the essential function of carbs is to delay the onset of muscle fatigue. This way, the body can maintain the proteins to be used by the muscles during training and recovery after workouts. Therefore, complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes and starchy green vegetables are the most recommended.
Fats are crucial because they help you feel fuller for longer after a meal and enhance muscle gains. In addition, they improve absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K. One needs to differentiate between body fat and dietary fat. Most people believe that dietary fat will cause fat on your body to build up, but that is never the case. The fact is, dietary fat is higher in calories, but it does not necessarily make one fat. Healthy sources of fat include; animal fats, full-fat dairy, grass-fed beef, whole eggs, coconut oil, fish, avocadoes, olive oil, nuts, seeds, olives and nut berries. They are categorised into saturated, unsaturated and trans fats. Tran's fats should avoid as they lead to heart diseases and stroke.
Good nutrition does not end from consuming your protein, complex carbohydrates and fats. One has to figure out when and how much to eat. A weightlifter has to meet their caloric requirement of between 2.5 and 3.9 calories per kilogram of body weight per day. Consuming fewer calories than is required jeopardises one's training.
Weightlifters are required to consume their proteins before bed as that facilitates overnight recovery. One must also choose post-workout meals carefully as they have an impact on the body. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, should be taken after training. The bulk of your daily carb requirement should be consumed immediately after training.
Weightlifters cannot meet their protein needs from food alone. This is why supplements are suggested for targeted nutrition and enhancement. Include supplements such as whey protein to boost the amount of quality protein intake. Some carbohydrate supplements avail the crucial carbs and calories without jeopardising one's weight balance. Furthermore, including creatine through supplements helps to enhance performance and increased muscle mass.
Other vital supplements to weightlifters are caffeine and Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs).
Weightlifters should also focus on what they are consuming pre-workout. This is because what one eats before training will strongly influence their performance and recovery. The right meal before any workout is any balanced meal containing proteins and carbohydrates about one or two hours before exercise. Before a training session, one needs to consume food to help sustain energy, boost performance, and ensure hydration.
How to determine calorie requirements?
Even while at rest, the body will always be working. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the minimum number of calories the body needs to continue working at rest. This is because the body burns calories to support everyday activities such as breathing, cell production, nutrient processing and blood circulation. Weightlifters have to calculate their basal metabolic rate then add activity factors for optimum body functioning. Exact calorie needs will vary from one weightlifter to the next depending on age, gut bacteria, gender, hormonal levels and how one's body is built.
Caloric intake will depend on whether a weightlifter is training for physical or competitive reasons. Their needs change depending on whether it is during the off-season or pre-competition training. To meet their requirements for a competition day, they will need to gain muscle, maintain correct status or lose weight. For muscle gain, it's necessary to consume about 380 calories per kilograms of body weight. To maintain weight, diets and training should be maintained. For weight loss, one should reduce their calorie intake by 15% to shed the excess fat. Weightlifters need to avoid crash diets as they increase the risk of injury and illnesses when losing weight. Instead, losing half a KG a week is recommended while consuming lots of proteins to enhance the feeling of fullness and prevent muscle loss.