Bodybuilders train to be statuesque and cut, but powerlifters train only for strength and function, so it makes sense that their different training goals will lead to different dietary needs. While a bodybuilder needs to consume very clean proteins and carbs to build muscle while curbing body fat percentages, powerlifters can eat whatever they want, so long as the net result is high energy, high performance, and fat lifts.
Powerlifters select food that provides the most energy in order to move the maximum weight from Point A to B. Quite often, prioritizing calorie-dense fuel leads to food choices higher in fats and carbohydrates. When you take a look in a powerlifter's grocery cart, you'll probably see lots of sugary products, fattier cuts of meats, flavored drinks, and even straight up junk food.
Elite professional powerlifter and world record holder Pete Rubish makes it clear that his diet is not designed to produce six-pack abs. He wants to eat things that he enjoys but that also provide the sustained energy needed to complete his training sessions.
Rubish's grocery cart might look questionable to those with only a cursory knowledge of the fitness world, but there's actually a method to his shopping madness!
His first stop at Marrazzo's Market in Trenton, New Jersey, is the bakery, where he picks out three doughnuts stuffed with custard and jelly. After that, he grabs all of the different fresh berries he can find, plus his favorite juices to help make his signature Summer Slam Animal Whey shake.
Rubish isn't precise about his portions when he shops. Powerlifters eat big but, unlike most bodybuilders, they usually don't weigh out their food. For example, if they are going to eat a chicken meal, they just grab a bunch of cooked chicken and eat it until they're full. In contrast, a bodybuilder would weigh out the chicken, or anything else, to ensure that a macronutrient wasn't overconsumed.
At Marrazzo's, Rubish found some thinly sliced steak to make one of his regular meals, a gyro sandwich. He quickly found the rest of the ingredients he'd need to complete the meal: pita bread, pico de gallo, feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce, which he loves.
His only concern with carbohydrates is that he gets a lot of them, so another one of Rubish's go-to meals is spaghetti with ground beef and marinara sauce. He always chooses the protein-fortified spaghetti. At 17 grams of protein per serving, the spaghetti is a quick and easy way to bump up his protein intake for muscle size. Later, he grabbed his favorite oat bran cereal to serve as a snack, some almond milk to wash down the cereal, and a rarely seen guava juice he cherishes.
Not one to pass up sweets, Rubish grabs a tasty looking pastry pack on his way out—don't judge—and heads home to cook up a smorgasbord of a meal that looks like a cheat-day nightmare to a bodybuilder. But to a powerlifter like Rubish, it's the stuff of legend-making.