Power Nutrition Q&A - Part Three!

In this issue of the power nutrition q & a you will learn all about Vitamin C and all its great benefits, all about protein quality, fiber and how important it is to incorporate into your diet, nutrition planning and more...
Note: This is part three, click here to view all parts!

I always hear that taking Vitamin C supplementation is a good idea? Is this true for strength athletes? I train 4 days a week and use a progressive overload cycle of training. I have read over and over that taking Vitamin C is good if you catch a cold. How much Vitamin C should a hard training powerlifter take on a daily basis? Does it have any other benefits or is it only good for helping you out when you are sick?

Vitamin C has a lot more benefits than simply helping you out when you have the common cold. Vitamin C has been shown to have a positive effect on the immune system. Supplementing with Vitamin C only when you have a cold is a mistake. Vitamin C is a micronutrient that should be incorporated in all strength athletes' nutrition plans.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin so there is no worry of building up a toxicity level. Excess intake of water soluble vitamins not just Vitamin C is excreted through your urine. One benefit to Vitamin C is that it helps repair connective tissues. Now with all the hard training powerlifters do, training heavy day in and day out takes a toll on the tendons and ligaments after time. Supplementing with Vitamin C can help in the recovery process from your tough workouts. As you probably already know recovery from your workouts is one of the most critical parts of your training. If you are not recovering you end up overtrained or injured. So in turn your progress goes out the window.

Next Vitamin C has a positive effect on powerlifter's favorite hormone - TESTOSTERONE. That's right! It also can help reduce Cortisol levels, which is something we all have to worry about. When the body goes through a perceived stress, whether it is a stressful situation at work or home, intense resistance training session or even strict dieting, the body releases more of this catabolic hormone. Now this hormone does have its benefits but what powerlifters have to watch out for is its muscle wasting properties.

So now you have heard it here first. Too much stress will lead to an increased Cortisol level that causes not only muscle wasting but also an increase in fat storage. I bet you didn't know that! Vitamin C can help decrease Cortisol levels so when you are training hard for your next competition, supplementing with this super vitamin can really make the difference in your recovery and immune function.

Let's not forget the positive effects it has on our hormones. The hard training powerlifter should take in the neighborhood of 3,000mg of Vitamin C per day and it can be increased even more when you are sick. Don't take it all at once since you will waste most of it. Take 500 to 1000mg three times a day as this will do the trick.

My question has to do with protein quality. I always hear something called BV in relation to different protein sources. What is BV and how does it affect different protein sources? Is all protein the same or are their better choices for powerlifters? If you could shed some light on this topic I would really appreciate it.

BV stands for the term Biological Value. This is a method of assessing the quality of different sources of protein. The higher the ratings on the BV scale, the better the quality of protein. The lower the rating on the BV scale, the lower quality the protein is. There are many different protein rating systems out there to help access the quality of a specific protein.

One reason why whey protein is so popular is because of its high rating on the BV scale. Egg protein was at one time the highest on the scale with it scoring a perfect 100. Egg was used as the benchmark in which all other protein sources were rated. With the introduction of whey protein on the scene in the early 1990's it gave egg white protein the backseat so to speak. Whey protein, depending on its grade and cut can range from 104 all the way to 159 on the BV scale. This gives whey the highest rating on the BV chart making it higher than egg, casein, meat, or soy protein sources.

When choosing a protein source look for sources that have a high BV score as more of this protein can be used to do what it does best…keep you in a positive nitrogen balance, enhance recovery, increase lean muscle tissue and jack up your strength. So now you can understand why I recommend powerlifters to supplement their diet with whey protein. If you look back to all my past articles you will see that the protein sources that I recommend are the highest on the BV chart.

BV is not the only thing that you should look at when considering a quality protein source but it should be used as a basis in which to build upon when designing your nutrition program. Other factors when considering a protein source include the amino acid profile, BCAA content, bioavailability, and the rate and time in which it is absorbed.

The quality of the protein that you put inside your body is very important. Feed your body the proper amount of high quality proteins and you will see many very positive benefits with your health and performance. It's like when you pull up to the gas pump with your power beast of a truck. You could fill up your tank with the cheapest fuel available and yes your truck will run, but we both know that it will be puttering like there is no tomorrow. Now if you fill the tank with the highest quality fuel, yes it may cost you a bit more but the return you get in performance is seen right from the start.

So make sure that when its time to pull your power machine in for some fuelling make sure you feed it high quality sources of protein to make sure your performance doesn't putter when its time to step up on the platform.

My question is in regards to fiber. I am having a hard time getting more fiber in my diet. Can you give me some tips on how to increase it? I know that it helps to reduce cholesterol and this is something that I need as I have been diagnosed with high cholesterol. If you can give me some ideas to help me increase my intake I would really appreciate it.

By the way, the story that you told in part two of your "Nutritional Mistakes" series about the super heavyweight that left the judge with a "mouthful" so to speak was so funny you had me on the ground laughing in pain. I am telling you the truth I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. Keep up the good work and the humor as it really breaks things up. Thanks for your help, as I need to get my cholesterol in check.

Fiber is definitely one of the most overlooked nutrients in the powerlifter's diet. I have consulted with numerous strength athletes and out of all of them very few were taking in adequate amounts of fiber in their nutritional plan. Let's face the bold truth here for a minute. Fiber is not one of those really tasty nutrients that are going to make your mouth water. It usually comes in the form of bland foods that really don't go down like a Krispy Kreme donut.

Increasing your fiber intake will most definitely have a positive effect on your increased cholesterol level. Cholesterol levels that are not in check can really cause a tremendous amount of health problems down the road for the powerlifter. It's a good idea to keep them in check because it can lead to arteriosclerosis which is the hardening of the arteries in your heart. Latter on this condition can lead to a heart attack.

I have noticed a higher incidence of heart attacks among powerlifters than some of the other types of athletes that I consult with. I believe this is due the fact that many powerlifters consume too much saturated fat and ignore their fiber intake. This combo can really wreak havoc on the cardiovascular system especially when there is also very little cardiovascular exercise included in their power training program.

One way to start getting more fiber in your nutrition plan is to start eating sources that provide adequate fiber a few times per day. Don't try and get all your daily intake of fiber in one meal. This will just make you feel like you swallowed a blowfish. Start including more vegetables and fruits in your plan. As with most powerlifters that I have worked with, fruits and vegetables are put to the side for tastier higher fat and refined carbohydrate food choices. Try to get more salads into your plan as well.

One excellent source that should be included into all powerlifter's plans is rolled oats. Oatmeal as you may call it is an excellent source of complex carbs but it also provides a very good source of fiber. Another very good source of fiber is the many different high fiber cold cereals that are now available. Bran flakes and All Bran are very good sources of fiber and should be included in the powerlifter's meal plan.

Not only is the increased fiber going to help bring down your cholesterol level, but it is also going to help prevent another health problem that plagues so many American men and that's colon cancer. If you are not getting enough fiber in your diet then you are setting yourself up for a increased rate of getting colon cancer in latter years.

In regards to your cholesterol problem there are many other natural things that you can do to help bring it under control without resorting to drugs. In the near future I will be doing a series on "Cholesterol and the Powerlifter" so keep your eyes peeled to learn some very valuable information that can do more for you than just increase your total…it can also save your life. So all in all, get your fiber up as it will not only help your powerlifting ambitions but your health as well.

You talk a lot about nutrition plan customization? What is that exactly and how do you go about designing a program for strength athletes? I know that you work with a lot of top powerlifters and strongmen like Garry Frank and Glen Ross so what has to take place so that you can design their program?

I am really interested in knowing more about how you go about putting different nutrition plans together. If you don't mind letting me in on some of your secrets here that would be great.

Ah…Trying to get some of my secrets from me are you? Just joking! When I talk about a customized nutritional plan there are many things that have to go into it. The first thing that I have to do is perform a nutritional and supplementation analysis. It is from this analysis that important information is gained so that I can start the program design.

This includes knowing what the person's training schedule or cycle is like, their current maxes, and when their next competition is. This way I know if the program is for the off season or pre contest. Next I need to have an array of medical information presented to me to help me understand more about what conditions that I may be working with. If someone has high blood pressure or suffers from diabetes I will need to know this information before I can start designing the program. I will also have to know what kinds of drugs or medication they are currently taking, as well as any allergies that they may have.

I prefer my clients to have blood work done not only so I can see if they have elevated cholesterol or triglyceride levels but also to understand how their insulin sensitivity level and thyroid function is. These are two very important factors when designing a meal plan.

Next I will also conduct some physical diagnostics which include body measurements and composition testing. This will let me know how much body fat they are currently holding as well as a reading for their lean tissue mass and water content. This way I can see how their composition is changing along with the program as well. Not only is this a benefit for those looking to lose a few pounds of fat, but it is an important monitoring tool to make sure that you are not catabolising any lean tissue when on a plan to go down a weight class.

I would need to know about their past injuries and health ailments that you may have suffered of in years past. Of course I will have to know what your current and future goals may be. Whether it's to lose fat, gain weight, improve overall health, or to focus on a health condition like decreasing your blood pressure. Your current or past use of nutritional supplements is another area of focus that must be considered as well. Another area of concern is whether the athlete is drug free or pharmaceutically assisted. This in itself plays a huge role in the design of the program since each of them has different considerations that must be met within the program.

For the drug free athlete preventing catabolism will be an area that must be focused on more than someone that is on the gear. Another aspect to look at is nutritional and supplementation needs to keep the pharmaceutically assisted strength athlete healthy. Focusing on cleansing the blood, liver and kidneys is something that all assisted athletes must do to keep them healthy especially as they get older.

There are many factors that go into designing a customized nutrition and supplementation program for powerlifters. It's not as simple as running off a couple meal plans and dumping them off to everyone that wants to work with you. It takes a lot more than that especially when you start working with National and World Class athletes that have to constantly improve to stay at the top of their game.

So here are some but not all of the things that go into designing a meal plan for strength athletes. I guess it's a little more complicated than just telling you to eat your vegetables and take your vitamins. I hope that I shed some light on just a few of the things that must be considered when designing a customized nutrition plan for strength athletes.

I would first like to tell you how much I liked your Power Nutrition Column in the February issue of Powerlifting USA. That one guy that claimed he was as strong as an ox was a little whacked out if you ask me. Is this guy for real? Did he ever get back to you on the wager that you offered him? I really like how you put him in his place when you told him that women in the 132-pound class were out lifting him. Ha… this guy is a joke. Do you have to deal with a lot of bozos like this?

My question is in regards to your web site X-treme Power. Where the hell is it? I have been checking back every month and it's still not there? Could you give me the heads up on what's going on?

Yes I do get some really funny email from time to time from some of the readers. I just learn to take it with a grain of salt. Actually I find it quite amusing as those that usually try to put down my theories to improve powerlifter's performance with specific nutrition protocols don't have a clue of what they are talking about. They are just purely shooting out their opinion with no educational background in the nutritional science fields. They also have no real experience working with a true professional that specializes in working with strength athletes for program design.

I do see my fair share of these "Bozos" as you mentioned but its cool as I like the attention they give to the topic. The aspect of "Nutrition for Powerlifters" has really taken off like never before over the last year and a half. I am very happy to have been leading the front on getting powerlifters educated on what they need to do to take their total to the next level.

In regards to the wager I offered him of course he didn't accept it. Deep down he knows that I am right with what I was saying since I have proved myself with the many top powerlifters that I do work with. Well, if he decides to change his mind on the wager then he knows where to find me.

In regards to the Web site at www.X-tremePower.com I have to apologize. First off this wasn't going to be a personal nutrition site. The purpose of this site was to provide a monthly internet magazine for all strength athletes including powerlifters, weightlifters, bodybuilders, and strongman to provide their imput from a multitude of different areas.

The purpose of X-treme Power would be an online magazine that covers all the strength sports. There are a couple reasons why it has been so delayed. The first is the fact that on two occasions some of my writers sent me some nasty viruses. It was actually the second virus that actually destroyed my computer. So yes the several months of sweat and tears that I put into it all went down the drain. Talk about frustration, I was about to flip when it happened the second time.

Next I have been in charge to head up the team that will be putting up the "Powerlifting USA" magazine web site. This in itself is another major project, which you should be enjoying its content now or very shortly depending on when this goes to print.

I am also working on a couple of projects right now as we speak that will be very interesting for powerlifters. I will let you in on these secrets shortly. So yes X-treme Power at the present time is still a go, its just going to be delayed for some time until the other projects have been completed. I apologize again for getting you excited and not keeping you updated in regards to the site. Thanks for writing and if you need anything let me know.

Note: This is part three, click here to view all parts!

If you have any questions or comments feel free to write me at aricciuto@x-tremepower.com.