With the Tokyo Olympics just around the corner we take a look at what weightlifters are eating and the best times to eat for maximum gains. So, if you’re upping your lifting game or just interested in what Olympic weightlifters eat you’ve come to the right place.
Working towards perfecting your lifting technique is only part of the equation if you’re looking to maximise your performance. Fuelling your body with the best possible nutrition is crucial for competitive or aspiring weightlifters and the right diet can make all the difference.
Protein helps rebuild muscle damage caused by exercise and that’s why it is a essential part of a weightlifter’s diet. A typical weightlifter’s diet consists of low-fat, high protein foods. Many trainers and lifters try to include protein in every meal such as pulses, whole grains, soy, eggs, chicken, beef, dairy or seafood. Any snacks between major meals are also high in protein – helping to constantly repair muscle cells when broken down into amino acids.
Research has shown1 that a diet high in protein, combined with a heavy resistance training program improves body composition in men and women, without any obvious negative physical effects. And as a guide, weightlifters are recommended to have two grams of protein per kilo of body weight each day.
Evidence has shown that it’s not just what you eat that’s important, it’s when you eat it that can impact training productivity.
Studies2 have shown that ‘protein ingestion before sleep represents an effective dietary strategy to augment muscle mass and strength gains during resistance exercise training in young men’. This means that consuming protein before you go to sleep can help your recovery overnight. However, consuming the right nutrients directly after a training session is the most important element.
Protein supplements are a great way of ensuring that you’re consuming high quality protein and getting the right amount each day. Quality whey proteins include Dymatize ISO 100, Gold Standard 100% Whey, Muscle Pharm COMBAT 100% WHEY, and GHOST – WHEY.
Ensuring every meal has a source of high-quality protein is a great start, but lifters should also add whole grains, pulses, greens and some starchy vegetables like sweet potato to their diet, as they are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates. These carbs help delay the onset of muscle fatigue, which is essential to prevent the body from burning other sources of fuel, like protein.
Similar to protein, weightlifters should consumer carbohydrates after their workout, because despite being the body’s main energy source, weightlifting does not require as many carbohydrates as endurance athletes. It’s recommended that weightlifters consume between 192 and 302 kilojoules per kilo of body weight. To help with this intake we recommend adding a mass gainer to your dietary routine, such as Max’s – Clean Mass, PranaOn Natural Mass Protein, Optimum Nutrition – GOLD STANDARD GAINER, or Muscle Pharm – COMBAT XL MASS GAINER. You can also add creatine to help you bulk up to the fullest. We recommend Dymatize – CREATINE MICRONIZED, Optimum Nutrition – CREATINE POWDER, Muscle Pharm Essentials Creatine and Rule 1 – R1 Creatine.
It’s important to remember that everyone is different and there are no ‘unbreakable rules’ when it comes to diet, with many weightlifters treating themselves to ‘cheat meals’ on occasion. Diet can be different for everyone, and an athlete will eat what they are comfortable with. Look at Usain Bolt for example, he claimed to have eaten up to 100 chicken nuggets a day during the Beijing Olympics – However, we are not recommending this dietary approach!
As long as you stick to the recommended dietary requirements and focus on the right nutrients, there are no barriers to success in weightlifting, or any other sport or training you’re into.
And if you are interested in the weightlifting events at the Tokyo Olympics all the times and events can be found here.
For one to watch, we suggest checking out Rio 2016 gold medallist Lasha Talakhadze, three-time IWF Male Lifter of the Year, who has set several world records in his career and is said to be one of the greatest super-heavyweight lifters of all-time.