Georgian weightlifter Lasha Talakhadze currently holds the world weightlifting record at 484 kg., achieved during the 2017 World Weightlifting Championship. Standing at 6’6” and weighing 168 kg., the 27-year-old champion is a giant. As a result, many people consider Lasha to be the greatest super-heavyweight weightlifter of all time.
Lasha’s build says a lot about a common misconception surrounding weightlifting—that you need to get ripped for heavy lifting. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need a large belly either. Several factors go into diet and training to lift weights three times that of the weightlifter. The idea behind a weightlifter’s diet and training regimen involves adding as much muscle mass as possible.
Because speed is also a deciding factor in weightlifting, improving core strength is typically the name of the game. Core muscles like the abdomen, obliques, lower back and glutes provide stability in explosive movements—in this case, lifting the weight in as few attempts as possible. Weak core muscles can leave you feeling frail, aching all over, and unable to maintain posture.
Consider the following tips when drawing up your diet plan to build your muscle mass.
Protein is Key
Researchers from Nova Southeastern University in Florida studied 48 fit men and women, divided into two groups that differed on protein intake. They discovered that people who ate 3.4 grams per kg of body weight per day (g/kg/d) had more improved body composition than those who only ate 2.3 g/kg/d. Both groups underwent heavy-resistance workouts.
Protein is a staple in an athlete’s diet, whether in his three meals or snacks in between. But, as this study shows, it’s part of a formula for more muscle, including carbohydrates and a proper workout. According to Today’s Dietitian, some significant sources of protein include:
- One wholeegg (large) – 6 grams, 71 calories
- 1 cup of skim milk – 8 grams, 86 calories
- ½ cup of pinto beans – 11 grams, 197 calories
- 3 ounces of salmon –22 grams, 155 calories
- 3 ounces of chicken (skinless) – 28 grams, 141 calories
Milk and eggs are as ubiquitous to a weightlifter’s diet as any other diet. That’s why supplements like those sold by sites like www.nspnutrition.com are typically milk and egg-based. Milk is rich in leucine, an amino acid that triggers protein synthesis in the muscles. While the egg white contains most of the needed protein, the yolk also contains supporting minerals like iron and phosphorous.
Eat at the Right Time
Your body will suffer from wear and tear during a workout, so it’s crucial to eat a protein and carb-rich diet before and after. Nutrients will facilitate tissue repair and promote growth as you rest up. However, according to multiple studies, there are other ideal times.
In 2015, researchers in The Netherlands studied 44 males undergoing a 12-week training regimen. One group took a supplement containing 27.5 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbs, and 0.1 grams of fat before sleeping, while the other group took a no-calorie placebo. The result was that the first group experienced an increase in muscle strength than the placebo group.
Eating during long hours of exercise is also recommended. Of course, you won’t be eating while doing your crunches, but during a break in between. According to Riska Platt, a nutrition consultant at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, an intake of up to 100 calories every 30 minutes will suffice. Sources can include low-fat yogurt or bananas.
Indulge with Care
Aiming for gold in any sporting event entails sacrifice such as skipping the usual indulgence like pizza or burger until after the competition. Successful athletes like Morghan King, who took sixth place in the weightlifting event of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, find room for their favorite food after a big event.
A rather bizarre finding is that junk food is as effective in post-workout recovery as protein drinks and energy bars. A study conducted by the University of Montana in 2015 took 11 highly-trained male athletes and had them fast for 12 hours. The group that ate fast food had a higher glycogen level than the other group that consumed sports bars and drinks.
However, the small sample size means the findings aren’t fully validated. Even the study’s authors don’t claim junk food as a substitute for healthy eating.
Although protein is a critical component, success in weightlifting requires a slew of other nutrients and an intense workout. It also needs a will strong enough to resist temptations and to work toward the goal set. After earning all of these, your reward will be the strength that you’ll be renowned for.