Episode 2 – 5 Places Strength Athletes Go Wrong With Their Nutrition

Key Points Covered

Not Reaching Protein Targets Every Day

  • A lot of people either overshoot their calorie targets, or undershoot their protein targets, by choosing protein containing foods that are too high in fats/carbs.
  • This is far more relevant during phases where calories are lower, since it becomes harder to reach protein requirements under those circumstances.
  • Every day you fall below the optimal amount of protein is a day that you are not maximising muscle gain/retention.
optimising protein intake for athletes

How People Approach Their Weight Changes

  • Bulking too fast is a common issue. You are limited in terms of how much muscle you can gain.
  • Natural males can probably gain ~10kg lean mass in your first year of training if you nail everything. Second year is something like 4-5kg of lean mass. Then 2-3kg. Then after that it is like 1kg under the assumption things go well and you do not get injured etc. There are exceptions to this obviously. But this is a good guideline.
Calorie Surplus Size
  • If you can gain ~10kg lean mass in a year under the best circumstances, it is pretty self explanatory that gaining 1/2kg per week is a silly idea. That comes out as 26kg if you did it for the full year. Therefore the vast majority is going to be body fat. Even scaling it back to 1kg per month and you see why that is likely to lead to fat gain.
  • Even a 500kcal surplus is likely far too big for most well-training people.
Large Calorie Surplus Compared to Small
  • Another issue is gaining weight during the wrong time of your programming. For example: A lot of lifters intentionally go into a calorie surplus every time they peak for a competition, then they try to cut post-comp.
  • But peaking blocks are not designed to be optimal for muscle gain, they are designed to help you express the strength you have built over the offseason. And most people try to work on their weaknesses directly after comps. So if you keep cutting calories every time you try to build muscle and strength in areas you are lacking, you are slowing down your long term progress.
  • That being said, never changing weight is an issue too. For people who are advance, it can make sense to sit at the same weight most of the year since there is not much room for muscle growth anyway. But for people who are capable of significantly improving body composition over time, it is more efficient to do structured mass gaining phases and fat loss phases.

Not Going Into Sessions Well Fuelled

  • This is simple, but a lot of people do not go into sessions well fuelled. Nailing your pre-workout nutrition will improve performance.

Caffeine and Late Sessions

  • The trade-off between sleep and performance for caffeine is typically not good. For athletes who are already motivated, the performance boost is small, but the impact on sleep is larger than a lot of people care to admit.

Missing Basics Like Creatine

  • Most people know they should take creatine, but not everybody does it. Taking creatine typically means you gain slightly more muscle than if you never took it at all. It’s an easy win.
Creatine Benefits for Strength

Thoughts on Weight-Cuts for Comps

  • A lot of people either do not cut at all or they either cut poorly, or they try cut too much weight.
  • The research shows that fighters typically you can cut ~5% of body weight the week of competition for a 4hr hour weigh-in, if done well, and not lose any performance. Therefore GPC powerlifters who have 24hr weigh-ins are leaving performance on the table if they do not do a weight cut. Not everybody should weight-cut. But if you never cut ANY weight, you are not maximising performance.
  • Trying to cut 8-10% of body weight is likely going to lead to performance loss.
  • Cutting an appropriate amount of weight, but not implementing it well can also hurt performance.

Relevant Links/Resources

Studies Mentioned

Useful Blog Posts