-Before you read any further, I am not a certified nutritionist or nutrition expert. This is advice from my own practice and things that have helped me and other athletes around me. Feel free to use this knowledge to your own benefit or talk to me about practices that have helped you.-
As far as nutrition goes for weightlifting, it doesn’t have to be different than the one we would prescribe for any CrossFitter: meats, veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar.
However, one thing that is variable is our activity level, that depends on what our extracurriculars are. If we are doing both weightlifting and CrossFit, we will have to eat more of the good, healthy stuff because our activity level is higher and we are most likely lifting a little heavier and more often than the average CrossFitter.
Another variable is if we aren’t doing CrossFit and we’re doing strictly weightlifting. What weight class are you in? Would you be better in a lower weight class? A higher one? These are things that we need to decide if you as an athlete are going to compete.
If you are cutting down to a certain weight class, loss of body weight may come with a slight loss of strength, but if your strength isn’t taking a huge hit with the reduction of calories, great! If it is, that weight class maybe isn’t meant for you. No matter what, we (coach and athlete) have to feel good about your lifts AND recovery. If you feel like complete garbage every day, then you probably need more calories if your other efforts of recovery are in check (sleep, rest days, mobilizations). But, make sure the other efforts are in check first.
If you are going up a weight class, add more meals throughout your day to get more of your macronutrients (protein, fats, carbs).There are quick ways to add mass, but those may not be the best way. Any effort to change a weight class needs to start well in advance of the competition to have a steady change in body composition.
Going back to the foods we should eat, we should be focused on getting whole, nutritious foods. Not a whole lot of food is coming in a colorful package with a character on it.
When it comes to carbs, we focus on the “little starch” and veggies. This is an important aspect to think about. We want our glycogen stores (carbohydrate intake) to be full when we lift, that way our energy feels up and ready. I like to tell my athletes to get a good source of carbs about a half hour to an hour out from training. This will depend person to person. Work schedules and previous classes/training sessions will affect that timing as well.
What are good “starchy” carbs? I love potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, and quinoa. Those four are easy to make on the spot or prep. These will give you a boost of energy for your training because they are higher on the glycemic index. Veggies on the other hand, are lower on the glycemic index. Veggies will keep you full for longer but won’t spike your energy or glycogen stores.
As far as protein goes, eat it up. Protein is great for recovery as well as carbs. Protein will help build the muscle we need to sustain our training and to get stronger. A good rule of thumb is to get 25-30g of protein in every meal, especially post workout!
But when should I eat?? This is a general guideline. Eat your starchy (high glycemic) carbs an hour or half hour before and after training to refuel yourself. Protein, veggies, and fat sources are in throughout the rest of the day to support recovery long term.
These are the basics of nutrition for supporting exercise whether it’s weightlifting and/or CrossFit. Again, I am not a registered dietitian, but I think what I know can help anyone get to where they want to be. Take this advice and do with it what you will. If you have any questions or want to talk more about nutrition, message me or see me in person.
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