Powerlifters and What They Eat
By Rick Fowler (from his site, www.usaplnationals.com)
A closeup look at how some of the top lifters eat!
Ever wonder what the top names in the game eat to sustain themselves? The
subject came up a few months ago while talking to one of the teenagers I
train with, Justin Newsome. Justin is 15 years old, weighs over 300 lbs.,
and has plenty of potential. After some random quizzing of what he had to
eat that day, it occurred that some lifters, especially newer ones, may not
realize the value of using the food they eat to their best advantage.
According to World Team Coach Larry Maile, on workout days lifters need
quite a bit to get through the rigors of heavy training. "You basically
have to eat enough to provide sufficient energy for your workouts, even when
you are dieting. If you consider that you need energy primarily on heavy
days, and less so on light days, then you can cycle your calories up and
down so that you are strong when you need to be and restrict calories the
rest of the time." says Maile. So this is bad news for those dieting to
make weight right? Well no, not totally....
It's all about the calories...
Dr. Maile went on to add, "Your body also tends to slow your metabolism in
the face of consistently low calories, so that you may be eating much less,
but not losing weight. With variable calorie intake, you don't get that
slowdown." So that could be some good news at least for those trying to
make a lower weight class. The zig-zag method explained by Dr. Fred
Hatfield has been touted as one of the best ways to cut weight, without
starving or dropping a large precentage of muscle.
Larry continued by saying, "In general, people are surprised at how much we
eat, especially when not dieting. In order to have a fast metabolism rate,
you have to support it with calories. It is not unusual for my family and
my lifters to eat 4 -5000 calories daily, even the small ones. But we also
train very fast much of the time, so there is an aerobic component to even
our heavy training."
Brad Gillingham had plenty to add to this. Unless you've been living on
venus the last few years, you know that Gillingham has become one of the top
U.S. Superheavyweight lifters, winning 2 straight IPF titles. But it hasn't
come overnight. In high school Gillingham was a thin framed high jumper
that jumped 6'10" in his senior year. But after that he began hitting the
weights, -and the food, religiously. Since then he has taken in enough food
that I'm sure would feed most small countries. "Tell kids they need to
think of food as a performance tool. I always eat for performance.",
Gillingham said recently. And performed he has, winning the
Superheavyweight title twice on the worlds biggest stage. With lifts that
exceed well over 800 lbs. in the squat, 600 lbs. in the benchpress, a
massive 848 lb. deadlift and a personal best 2,265 lb. total, Brad has
certainly put the food to good use.
Food, Food & more Food!
Eating for performance isn't just something to be done when it's convenient.
Just ask 242lb. kingpin Tony Harris, who recently spent some time in
Virginia with the Coast Guard for an engineering class. Harris, like
Gillinham, puts it away. Harris stated, "As far as food, I ate pretty much
what I wanted when I want it too. Being here on a military base (FT.Eustis)
I was given a food allowance to eat out and not just at the dining facility.
On the typical morning it was a large bowl of cereal and fruit and then off
to Burger King where I ate two ham, egg and cheese biscuits and an order of
French toast sticks. Around 930-10am it was a protein shake (muscle milk)
and usually a pop tart." If that doesn't make you hungry to eat and lift
big, it gets better...
Harris added, "For lunch it was a buffet somewhere in town
(American,Chinese,Mexican or Italian), then another shake at 3-4pm and train
at 5pm. Dinner after workouts was a steak and potatoes (preferably sweet)
and a salad. I was drinking about a gallon and a half of water a day and ran
2-2 1/2 miles on M-W-F with my class (not by choice).On T-T I would have a
big breakfast which was usually steak, eggs, fried potatoes and pancakes or
waffles. Every night before I go to bed I'd have a muscle milk shake, except
Tony also gave these tips on eating, "The large meal
at lunch was to fuel me for the workout and all the food would be digested
and I wouldn't feel bloated during training. I don't count carbs,calories
and, etc., I just eat until I was satisfied and tried not to over eat. But I
always eat desert after lunch and dinner."
According to the top guys, to lift big you need to eat big. And even when
cutting weight, proper fuel and nourishment is important to sustain a heavy
workout. Below is a typical day of eating habits for three current USAPL
National Champions. USAPLNationals.com thanks Ervin Gainer, Tony Harris,
Brad Gillingham & Larry Maile for their contributions!