Podcast Episode 2 Transcript – 5 Places Strength Athletes Go Wrong With Nutrition

The Ideal Nutrition Podcast

Leah

00:00:08 – 00:00:08

Entry soundtrack.

Leah

00:00:08 – 00:00:22

Welcome to The Ideal Nutrition Podcast. I’m here with my co-host, Aidan. Today is episode two and we’re talking about five places strength athletes go wrong with nutrition, so Aidan is going to get us kicked off today.

Aidan

00:00:22 – 00:01:07

So, the first one, and probably the one I’m the most passionate about because it actually matters, like it actually moves the needle, it actually is important for getting as strong as you can or improving your body composition and everything like that is protein intake. And this is a bit of an interesting one because, like a lot of people say stuff like they’re talking about how people often overdo protein and stuff like that, and very few people need to focus on getting more protein in. But when you actually do the maths on it and see what people do and everything like that, it’s kind of hard under some circumstances to get the optimal amount of protein, particularly in a calorie deficit, because firstly, the lower your calories go, the harder it is to get protein into that, and also because if calories are low,

Aidan

00:01:07 – 00:01:49

every calorie you spend on something that isn’t protein is kind of taking away from your opportunity to get protein into those calories. So, this is an interesting one because it doesn’t seem to be super consistently an issue. The way I often see it is like five days per week or something like that. Most strength athletes will be getting enough protein in, but on, like two days of the week or something like that, or infrequently, they might not be getting it. And the way I view it is that every day you don’t reach that ideal amount of protein is a day that you’re not maximizing your muscle growth or maximizing the amount of muscle that you can hold on your frame. So, it makes sense to be striving for this every single day. You can’t really catch up on this. And

Aidan

00:01:49 – 00:02:23

the biggest example I think of this, particularly in the powerlifting world, is really, really just like junk food intake, like that’s the simplest way of saying it, like, for example, going to makers, like getting a burger from makers. Yeah, it is. It does contain protein, it is pretty high in protein and people think of it like that. But if you are in lower calories, it’s harder to fit that in. For example, a Big Mac is 850 calories and 35 grams of protein. If you’re aiming for 1.75 grams of protein in even like a 2500 kind of calorie kind of range,

Aidan

00:02:23 – 00:03:00

it’s just not going to fit in that well. Like if you try to get to that protein target solely from Big Macs. I know it’s a bad example, but if you’re trying to do that, you would need over 5000 calories to get to that amount of protein. That, therefore means, every calorie that you spend on a food like that, thinking it is a good protein source is really making it harder to reach your protein targets, not easier. It’s not a good protein source. Every time you’re having large amounts of foods like that, like I do see people getting takeaway twice in a day, and that’s fine. But if you’re not hitting your protein target before that, like every time you’re doing something like that, you’re either going to overshoot your calorie target or undershoot your protein target.

Aidan

00:03:00 – 00:03:20

And obviously, even like I see people doing a surplus where they’re overshooting their calorie target to get their protein. But in that case, once again, you’re not optimizing body composition. You’d be gaining more of that than necessary. You would basically just be having too many calories for what you’re trying to achieve. Is there anything you want to touch on the protein stuff there?

Leah

00:03:20 – 00:03:52

No, I think it’s, it is about getting the most efficient sources of protein that you can, a good majority of the time when you have really high requirements. Like if you’re your protein requirements are 35% of your daily calories, and it makes sense to go for more efficient sources of protein. I think something that I see all the time is choosing foods that are not necessarily junk foods, but things like peanut butter. Yeah, yeah, as a protein source. And technically, yes, it is. But is it the most efficient? Probably not. And I do see that all the time.

Aidan

00:03:52 – 00:04:30

And like the higher calorie you get, the easier it is to kind of fit stuff in like this and hit your protein targets. But particularly when in the calorie deficit and trying to get leaner and stuff like that, it makes it so so hard to reach that protein target and, like while we’re briefly talking about it, I wanted to touch on, like when we’re talking about mathematics and how much protein people need like to put a number on it, I would say at minimum, most people should be aiming for at least 1.6 grams per kilogram of bodyweight protein per day, so for a 100 kg athlete it would be a minimum of 160 grams of protein. You can make arguments for higher, particularly the leaner somebody gets, but that’s the kind of range I’d be looking at. So

Aidan

00:04:30 – 00:04:43

that’s what you’re looking at, like of a Big Mac 35 grams of protein, that’s pretty high calorie. You can see why it wouldn’t exactly fit into something like that style diet. Um, what would be another mistake that strength athletes often make of their nutrition?

Leah

00:04:43 – 00:05:24

I feel like this is a big one and one I have lots of thoughts about, so I’ll kind of touched on it in multiple sub-topics. But just generally, how people approach altering their weights in strength sports, so a huge one is bulking too fast. I think whenever it comes to bulking, people are keen to get as much bodyweight on themselves as possible in the shortest period of time. But it’s just not the best way to go about it. You are capped in terms of how much muscle you can gain each week each month. It’s not like body fat, where you can throw like a huge calorie surplus at you and you’ll put body fat on to almost, there’s no cap. When it comes to body fat.

Aidan

00:05:24 – 00:05:54

Like you’re pretty limited at the rate that you can gain muscle, a good like rule of thumb is for somebody in their first year of training, like a male athlete in their first year of training, probably gained 10 kg of muscle, if they do everything right, and then the next year, maybe four or five, the year after two or three, and then the years after that you nail everything. You don’t get injured, everything goes well, like you probably get like a kilo, and obviously, if you haven’t done everything optimally, it kind of shifts that if you’re just like a genetic freak and you can gain muscle more easily, you can do better than that.

Aidan

00:05:54 – 00:06:22

But It’s like even that kind of best-case scenario of like 10 kg in a year. I see people gaining intentionally at the rate of half a kilo per week. And I understand the mindset, like if you do a half kilo per week for a year, you gain 25 kg. If you were kind of captive gaining 10 kg of muscle, you’re pretty much saying that by doing this if you were to do it for a year, you gained 15 kg of fat. Um, and the other thing I want to touch them with that, is there has been research done on this. There’s one

Aidan

00:06:22 – 00:06:56

study that always comes to my mind on college athletes, where they gave him a 500 calorie surplus, which is the equivalent of about half a kilo per week weight gain. Um, and they gave them that, and basically one group just ad libitum, as in they just like add as much as they want. But they were told to eat a little bit more. The other had that 500 calorie surplus, and both groups gained a bit of size. Both groups gained a similar amount of muscle. The 500 calorie surplus one gained a little bit more muscle, just a tiny bit more muscle. But the ad litem group that just had a small surplus

Aidan

00:06:56 – 00:07:29

they barely gained fat, they gained a little bit of fat. The one that was in the 500 calorie surplus group, they gained heaps of fat. They gain more fat than muscle, they gained a lot more fat than muscle. And it’s basically being like if you bulk too fast because you’re in a rush to get the job done because you’re in a rush to gain muscle, you’re basically setting yourself up to gain more fat than necessary. And it’s inefficient down the line because you have to spend more time cutting to get to the level of leanness that you want or spend less time bulking in the first place. You spend less time in a calorie surplus because you hit this right where you’ve got as much body fat as you’re willing to kind of have, and you’d have to stop there.

Leah

00:07:29 – 00:07:43

Yeah, and I’d say what I see all the time is more advanced lifters also doing this really rapid bulking. I think it makes sense if you’re a 16-year-old male who’s just started straying the training that you can be quite aggressive with.

Leah

00:07:43 – 00:07:44

Yeah,

Leah

00:07:44 – 00:08:24

just like get all those newbie gain, like go for it, you’re in the perfect position to do so. But if you’ve been training for 15 years, you have a fairly large amount of muscle mass, then it just doesn’t make sense to have a huge calorie surplus where a good majority of that weight you gain is going to be body fat and in a power to weight ratio like sport, it just doesn’t make any sense to do it like that. So that’s definitely a mistake I see happening really commonly, particularly in powerlifting. The second one is gaining weight at the wrong times in your programming. So it kind of feeds back into bulking too fast in that people just don’t,

Leah

00:08:24 – 00:08:49

they don’t think about when they should bulk. Uh, there’s definitely a time in your programming where it’s not the best time to be gaining size. So when you’re peaking for a competition and volume is low, so training stimulus is low, that’s not the time for you to be gaining most of your size, because again, most of it isn’t going to come from muscle mass. It’s going to be somewhat more swamps on the side of body fat.

Aidan

00:08:49 – 00:09:29

Yeah, heaps of people will do it when they’re peaking because they’re excited for their competition, they want to do the best they can, and then when their post-competition and their focus is a little bit less on powerlifting and more on getting healthy again, or rehabbing and stuff like that, or, ideally, doing a hypertrophy block as well. Like if your hypertrophy block always comes post-competition. That’s where you’re trying to address your weaknesses and stuff like that. And we know that during your peaking block, you’re not really building as much muscle. It doesn’t necessarily make sense to be in a decent-sized calorie surplus in the peaking block and then cutting every time you’re trying to be addressing your weaknesses or grow muscle or anything like that. We say this. A lot of people know this, but we see it.

Leah

00:09:29 – 00:10:10

It happens everywhere. I think everybody knows that they shouldn’t be gaining at certain times and cutting at certain times, yet we see it so frequently, so it kind of goes into my next point around planning, planning your weight gain and loss phases. So I’d always say it like, bodybuilding as a sport, is a great example of doing this well, so they’ll look at their year or even over two years and really meticulously plan when they’re going to be in a calorie surplus, when they’re going to be in a deficit, they’ll see, they’ll look at the shows where they want to compete and just plan it so meticulously, where like they’re cutting phase will be at the time, it’s most effective heading into

Leah

00:10:10 – 00:10:27

when they want to be on stage. And then they’ll do a bulking phase when they’re doing a lot of hypertrophy work and they’re actually creating that stimulus. And they’ll treat their nutrition and their training as part and parcel rather than looking at them completely separately.

Aidan

00:10:27 – 00:11:08

For sure, another one that is pretty relevant to is constantly trying to remain in a weight class that you’ve outgrown, like over the course of a career, a powerlifting career, or any strength kind of athlete career. You should be gaining muscle, like that’s the goal, that’s why people get into this, when they want to gain muscle, they want to get stronger, everything like that. And after a certain point, like if you’re pretty lean, your total is not really growing or anything like that. But you just keep cutting for a certain weight class, particularly if it’s for like, honestly, like aesthetic reasons. You’re not becoming a better powerlifter by doing that, sometimes it makes sense to move up a weight class. If it makes sense to do that.

Leah

00:11:08 – 00:11:38

Yeah, 100% agree. And I think this is something that, I mean, I constantly see more so in women who just have this number in the head of what they should be just from a social perspective. So, you know, you don’t want to go over the 75 kg class because you know there’s a bit of fear around that number, but they’re really holding themselves back from the powerlifter they could be by trying to remain in that weight class. So, I think a lot of people do themselves a misjustice by trying to do that.

Aidan

00:11:38 – 00:12:07

And another point I want to touch on, which is, it’s pretty conscious for a lot of the, what we’ve talked about with the bulking too fast and stuff like that, but never changing weight at all. Um, you can re-comp, it is possible, particularly if you’re a new to strength sports, and stuff like that. You can do it, but it’s also not the most efficient way. If you’re trying to gain muscle, the most efficient way is in a calorie surplus. If you’re trying to lose fat the most efficient way is in the calorie deficit, if you’re trying to make the most progress you can over a two-year timeframe,

Aidan

00:12:07 – 00:12:31

you wouldn’t, unless you’re incredibly advanced, you wouldn’t want to be just sitting at the same weight, you would want to be having phases in the surplus and having phases in a deficit. Um, that would be the way to go about it. Not making the surpluses too big, as we talked about, you want it to be a small surplus, Um, but you would want to be striving to be gaining muscle over that kind of two-year period, if you want to be getting as better as a powerlifter, strongman, athlete, any strength athlete, really,

Leah

00:12:31 – 00:13:06

yeah, 100%. And I think that also goes back into planning. In regards to yes, you want to be in phases of a surplus, phases of a deficit. Um, and you should be really pairing that up with your training. So I always say that it’s best to talk to your coach and what their plans are for the year. I think a lot of the time people see it as these individual blocks, so I’ve got an 8 to 12 weeks strength block and they don’t see anything outside of that. So it’s good to kind of hit your coach up and be like, okay, what’s the plan for this year and go from there in terms of what you want to do with your weight and shifts in your weight?

Aidan

00:13:06 – 00:13:46

Sure, the next thing that would say a lot of strength athletes don’t always get right is, um, going into sessions properly fuelled and hydrated. This is going to be a quick one, because it’s pretty simple. But like I say, a lot of people who will work all day, barely eat and then come into a session and then have a terrible session like it’s a no brainer. But like if you had a proper meal. Like as we talked about the last kind of podcast. If you have a proper meal, like two or three hours before, or you have a snack before you train and stuff like that, it increases the likelihood of having a good session. And I’m a pretty big believer that if you have good sessions all the time, that’s probably going to carry over the better performance in the long run as well.

Leah

00:13:48 – 00:14:28

Let’s go to the next one. So the next one I want to talk about is caffeine. So I know I’m a huge like a person that uses caffeine a lot almost to my detriment. So it’s like near and dear to my heart, because I know it’s a hard habit to break, but particularly for the athletes that are training at night time and almost over utilizing caffeine to get through those sessions and then being detrimental to their sleep procession, having the caffeine late at night and then they’re just not sleeping and not recovering well, session to session and then you’re almost relying on caffeine to get you through the next session because

Aidan

00:14:28 – 00:14:28

You’ve had poor sleep.

Leah

00:14:28 – 00:14:39

You’ve had poor sleep. And sleep is such a pillar of recovery that we often forget about. And we will use caffeine to like cover that up a little bit.

Aidan

00:14:39 – 00:14:57

And if we take feelings out of it, just look at it from a purely performance perspective, like I care about outcomes, if we care about it from that perspective, how much is caffeine helping? If we look at from a performance perspective, maybe 1 to 3% probably on the lower end of that range. How much does a good sleep help?

Leah

00:14:57 – 00:14:59

Way more than 1 to 3%.

Aidan

00:14:59 – 00:15:32

And there’s another thing I’ve heard, this on another podcast, but they used the word cognitive dissonance, when it comes to caffeine, and we know a large percentage of people. If they have a ton of caffeine at 5 PM, it’s going to affect their sleep. You ask people if you think it affects their sleep, and probably 50% say that it doesn’t, like I’m not going to give an actual stat on that. But like more people think it doesn’t affect their sleep than it actually does. So, it is food for thought, like it’s probably not a good idea unless you’re an extreme outlier. Um, the fourth thing that I want to talk about this is, honestly, the quickest one. But like

00:15:32 – 00:15:59

a lot of people miss basics that they know works. So, a good example of that is creatine, pretty much every strength athlete has heard about creatine, pretty much every strength athlete has heard there’d be a good idea to have creatine. I am of the opinion that if you take creatine for 12 weeks, you’ll gain slightly more muscle than if you didn’t take creatine at all. And for pretty much all-strength athletes, that is a good thing. It’s something you want to be doing. I see a lot of clients and

Aidan

00:15:59 – 00:16:30

even the ones that know they should be doing it like, I’d say, 50% using that number again. But like 50% of the clients, I see no creatine is good. They’ve used it before, but they no longer use it. It’s such a simple one, but that’s why I say it’s a mistake that people aren’t using it, because it’s only like that 1 to 3% kind of boost in performance and muscle and whatever, but it’s the easiest one we will ever get, you just like chuck it in water or chuck it in anything or whatever. You just have it once a day and you get a tiny boost a bit of an easy on. Anything else on that? Or did you want to go onto the fifth thing that strength? Athletes don’t always do the best possible.

Leah

00:16:30 – 00:17:02

Let’s go to the next thing. Although not taking creatine consistently is something that I do see all the time. And it’s such an easy win. You’re right. It is an easy win, so easy to do, so why wouldn’t you be doing it? The last thing is thoughts on weight cuts in general. So, we’re talking about acute weight cuts heading into way in or a competition, so making weight for an event. There are a lot of times where people will do these acute weight cuts either unnecessarily, so they’re just not going to be competitive whether they do the weight cut or not.

Leah

00:17:02 – 00:17:35

Usually, this is novice lifters, kind of coming into the sport thinking that they have to make weight for an event, or if it is a novice competition or they’re not going to be that competitive yet, and it just doesn’t make sense to put your body through that. It makes more sense to focus on performance and just doing the best you can on the day. And then the second part of that is, is athletes not doing the acute weight cut in the most effective way. So, going back to real old-school ways of doing it in terms of just sitting in a sauna for four hours.

Aidan

00:17:35 – 00:17:44

I’ve heard some people doing cardio as well. You’ve literally just done a peaking block and you’ve tapered it and you’ve rested. You’re trying to feel good under that. All this recovery stuff and you smash yourself with cardio.

Leah

00:17:44 – 00:17:53

It makes no sense. And then, you know, in terms of stress on the body, sitting in a sauna for four or five hours. Not only is it dangerous, but that’s so much stress on your body.

Aidan

00:17:53 – 00:18:24

Yeah, you’re not going to feel your best, and we are going to touch on this with the future podcast. But there are ways you can do a better, like looking at research because there is not research on powerlifters and stuff like that. But research on fighters have shown that fighters can often lose 5% of their weight the week of the fight. If they’ve got a couple hours for weigh-in, if they’ve got a four hour weigh-in and they can lose 5% of your weight and lose no performance, is what the studies are showing. We work with a lot of GPC kind of athletes, who have

00:18:24 – 00:18:54

call it a good or a bad thing, but they’ve got access to 24 hour weigh-ins. So it’s like if you are choosing to do one and you do it well, it could give you an advantage. So not an unnecessary one. If you are competitive, blah, blah, blah, you’ve got the availability to do it well and have 24 hours to recover, so we are going to do a proper podcast on that later. Um, but for now, I don’t wanna go too in-depth on that because it’s a bit of a topic of itself. But it is something that we see a lot of people getting wrong I see. I see honestly, as one of the biggest gaps in the kind of powerlifting market in Australia. So

Aidan

00:18:54 – 00:18:58

I’m pretty passionate about it. Anything else you want to touch on with that or wrap it up?

Leah

00:18:58 – 00:19:11

No, I think that’s definitely worth its own podcast in general, I just say, if you’re questioning whether you should make weight or not through an acute weight cut, you probably don’t need to

Aidan

00:19:11 – 00:19:22

100%. As always, I want to say thank you to everybody who has listened. If you could please rate and review on iTunes, we would definitely appreciate that. And, yeah, just thank you.

Leah

00:19:22 – 00:19:22

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