You are what you eat and you get out what you put in. You don't want to be a twinky, do you? Find out what to eat and which supplements are a must!
I will begin by saying that there is no reason a powerlifter or ANY athlete should not have an optimal nutrition regimen. If you do not have a tight diet plan to stick to, you are simply not performing at optimal levels.
First I have to address junk food. This is the fall of many athletes. You get out what you put in. You are what you eat. You don't want to be a twinky, do you? You don't want to look and feel like crap, do you? Understand that one of the great things in life is the ability to taste and enjoy good food. Just limit it to holidays and other special occasions.
Protein is just as important in powerlifting as it is in bodybuilding. Protein repairs torn tissue which is what happens when you train. Building muscle should be considered important even if you dont care about your physique. The more muscle tissue you have, the more force can be exerted to the bar, the more weight you lift.
I personally recommend you eat as many grams of protein as possible. If I could, I would personally eat 400-500 grams a day. Try not to go under 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
There are a couple ways to go about eating when you are a powerlifter or strength athlete when considering macronutrient ratios (percentage of protein/carbs/fat of your total calories). The first is high carb/low fat (a macronutrient ratio of 40-50% carbs/40-50% protein/10-20% fat). With the carbs you will have extremely high energy levels and you will be in a constant state of anabolism.
You will constantly be pumped and there will not be a shortage of muscle glycogen. Try not to eat too many carbs within the last couple of hours before bedtime or it may be stored as fat.
The other way to go with your diet is high fat/low carb (a macronutrient ratio of 30-40% fat, 40-50% protein/10-30% carbs). I recommend this for those that want to lose bodyfat. I wouldn't say it's a good idea to go into ketosis, which can happen when eating under twenty grams of carbs per day, because ketosis will deplete you of muscle glycogen, water, and ultimately, strength. In my opinion, 50-150 grams of carbs should be taken in on the low carb type of diet.
The reason for having a high fat intake is because without carbs, there has to be something to fill the calories back up close to your maintenence level. You should already be eating as much protein as possible so the calories have to be from fat. The healthiest way to get fats in your diet is from essential fatty acids, such as flax or simply from canola oil or olive oil, which have next to no saturated fat but have mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats (which are healthy).
These fats are not the best tasting, so if you simply can not stomach them I would try to get a fair share of your fat intake from meats and possibly peanut butter.
Before a meet it is your best bet to really buckle down and stick to your diet. If you are close to your weight class limit or even a little over, it would be best to use the high fat approach.
The last thing you want to do is eat lots of carbs, gain even more weight, and then have to lose water before a meet. All the water you have in you will help with leverage.
If you are under or right at the weight limit I would suggest you use the higher carb approach. Don't eat any junk food and eat very clean carbs. The best carb choices are vegetables, oats, brown rice, wheat breads and pastas, and bran cereals.
There are many supplements out on the market today. Most of them don't do jack. The best advice I can give everybody in terms of supplements is to stick with the basics. Protein, glucosamine/chondroitin, and possibly creatine are the only really valuable supplements that are worth the time, energy, and money.
There are many conflicting opinions on the validity of glutamine. To some people, it helps tremendously. Others are convinced glutamine is only helpful through IV form. I have personally never taken any glutamine products so I can not attest to the pros or cons.
The only advice I can give is to try it and see for yourself how it works for you.
Timing and cycling of creatine is important. Most people stop experiencing gains after the fourth or fifth week of use. Use after this period is simply a waste of money because the effects diminish. It is best to go four to five weeks on and four to five weeks off. You would want the last month or so before a meet to be one of your 'on' periods.
Creatine has not been around long enough to determine if your body's own creatine production can be hindered by use so it is a good idea to just take some time off. Like I said, 4-5 weeks on and at least 4-5 weeks off would be best. Go off for at least the amount of time you were on.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Glucosamine and Chondroitin mixes have been proven to improve joint stability and promote cartilige lubrication and flexibility. This stack is precious to strength trainees as it helps prevent and relieve joint pain. The amount taken also varies in the opinions of everybody but it's always a good idea to take at least the amount that the serving size is on the label.
Usually this is 1500mg of glucosamine and 1200mg of chondroitin daily. If you can afford it, this supplement can be taken year-round. A big difference can be felt when taking this product.
I hope this article has been of assistance to you. If you have want articles on the topic of strength or powerlifting e-mail me with your requests.
Solid Tips for Solid MASS!