by David Gangon uploaded 24th April 2013
Helpful Tip #1: Befriend the clearance section of Dunnes, Tesco & various other supermarkets.
The meat is a day before its expiration, you can buy fine & cheap meat, bring it home, portion it out in small little sandwich bags & freeze it portion by portion.
There's no waste, it's a very cheap way to get all your meat needs, & by portioning out the meat you won't have to bother with weighing things out every day, simply pull out a portion from the freezer the night before you intend to eat it, defrost either on the counter or in the fridge if not being cooked until the afternoon/evening, & savor the benefits.
Helpful Tip #2: Buy a digital scales.
One thing that's all too easy to do is miscalculate how much you're eating; you can end up not eating enough when you need to or having to resort to flooding yourself with food in one or two huge servings, which can lead to a lot of the nutrients leaving your body as waste, as the body can only absorb so much nutrients in one sitting.
So, the easy solution is to just weigh out what you are eating & see exactly what you are or would be eating, just to put it in perspective. Digital scales can be bought dirt-cheap in Argos, Aldi, Lidl etc. & are far more useful than what can be fairly inaccurate mechanical scales.
What you could do from then on is weigh out the uncooked portion of food, find some sort of measuring cup/scoop/bowl that holds the pre-weighed amount of food well (i.e. A container that will make it easy to tell that you are getting the exact amount you require when using the scoop in future). It makes life that little bit easier. Here’s an approximate guide of what your standard whey protein-style scoop of each of the following foods weighs:
Brown/White Rice= 55-60g
Also, cooking large amounts of food at a time & then weighing & portioning them out for the day/days/week can save you time if you can't get around to cooking every day & will make sure you will be able to eat what you are supposed to.
Helpful Tip #3: Don’t be afraid to experiment.
From what I’ve seen, many people have the essential elements of their diet right but get sick of eating the same thing day in day out. Chicken & Rice. Chicken & Rice. Chicken & Rice. & on it goes. I’ve thrown together a list of flavors that work well with the staples of the Powerlifting diet, but bear in mind these are not just only suggestions, they are the result of having a little fun in the kitchen & asking myself “I wonder does this go with this”. It may be nutrition, but there’s no need for it to be bland & painful, & while everyone might not have an overwhelming passion for food, it’s amazing how fun & satisfying things can be when you take a chance & just mess around a little & discover something really special.
Chicken: 1 Chicken Stock cube (mashed w/water & rubbed into the chicken), salt & pepper, 1 clove garlic, juice of 1/2 lemon/lime/both, 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp Cajun Spice, 1 tsp tarragon, 1-2 tbsp white wine/sherry (use as/in marinade for chicken when oven roasting/grilling), 1 tbsp Reggae Reggae sauce (use as for wine), 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1-2 slices black pudding, small handful dry roasted nuts.
Beef: 1 Beef Stock Cube, 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp Cajun Spice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tbsp Reggae Reggae sauce, 1 tbsp tomato ketchup, 1 chopped clove garlic, 2 tbsp whiskey/red wine (use as a marinade), 1 chopped rasher, small handful dry roasted nuts, 1 tsp peanut butter, 1 tsp coffee, 2 tbsp soy sauce.
Rice: salt & pepper, juice of 1/2 lemon/lime/orange/any citrus fruit, 1 tsp coriander, few slices cucumber, Tabasco sauce, 1 chicken-vegetable stock cube in the cooking water, 3 tbsp soy sauce.
Helpful Tip #4: Be sure you’re getting enough.
For too long I found myself training myself seriously hard, pushing myself every single training day & feeling quite satisfied at my work level, but ultimately making no progress. Virtually at all from November to around March. It made no sense: I was eating sensibly, trying to balance out my protein & carb levels in each of my meals & getting what I thought was adequate rest.
Boy was I wrong. After performing horribly at my last competition & not even setting 1 new PB, I sat myself down & did some thinking & some research, & it turned out that my lack of progress, along with 1 or 2 other factors that definitely didn’t help, it really boiled down to one thing: I simply wasn’t consuming enough.
It turned out I was nowhere near the protein requirements for my daily diet, let alone my training day requirements (170-255g protein/day or 28-42.5g/meal) & my carbohydrate levels weren’t high enough either (they should’ve been at 382.5g/day on training days & 255g/day on rest days in between training days). I had also left out fat levels, oblivious to the fact that appropriate levels of healthy fats such as those found in nuts & avocados can help keep hormone levels high & can also be an extra helpful source of calories, as one gram of fat has over twice the amount of calories of carbs, so a little goes a long way. It also needs to be said that I missed the equivalent of a full meal every day, even on training days. One really has to wonder why I was making no progress.
So, after a bit of soul-searching & researching, some new habits & a whole new perspective, I restructured my diet, began to weigh out everything & created a nutrition plan with the following constituents:
Carbohydrates: Training days 382.5g/day (Bodyweight in pounds x 2.25), Rest days 255g/day (BW x 1.5) == Training days 63.75g/meal, Rest days 42.5g/meal
Protein: 170-255g/day (B.W in pounds x 1-1.5), EVERY day to prevent muscle being used as an energy source == 28-42.5g/meal
Fats: 42.5g fats/day (B.W x 0.25) == 7-10g/meal (The 10g is there because, when consuming post-training nutrition, I omit fats as they slow down the rate at which the protein, which is whey protein in my post workout meal, is absorbed)
An average meal for me will look like such:
Breakfast: 87g porridge oats (dry weight) with 2 scoops good-quality whey protein & 1 tbsp healthy oil e.g hazelnut/walnut oil
Standard meals: 200g beef mince/ 1 large chicken breast a.k.a 1 chicken supreme, 87g brown rice/115g couscous (all dry weights) & 1 tbsp healthy oil/25g nuts
Pre-Training/Quick Fix: 1-2 scoops whey protein, 87g uncooked porridge oats, 1-2 tbsp healthy oil, water (I don’t blend up the mix because I’m just so hardcore like that)
Post Training: 2 scoops whey protein & 60-80g sugar, water (the sugar gets into your system faster than complex carbohydrate sources like porridge & brown rice would)
Now, it should be said that this is just the plan that works for me, other people may be different; at the time & at time of writing I was 76kg trying to move up to the middle of the 82.5kg weight class; the beef mince is limited to 200g/meal (uncooked weight) as I simply could not afford to buy any more than that during the week, the funds just weren’t there; but it seems to be working for me so maybe it will for you.
Helpful Tip #5: Rest
Know when enough is enough. For months I was burning myself out in training & going to failure at every session practically, as I felt I wasn’t pushing unless I was where I couldn’t push anymore, training for 2.5, 3, even 4 hours at a time. I was a stubborn little mule & I loved/hated every minute of it, as I knew I was giving it my all.
But there simply wasn’t enough in the tank. I wasn’t recovering enough to progress, I dismissed the idea of deload weeks as laziness & I felt the only way forward was to push every single day. What I needed was a kick up the backside & a good night's sleep.
This is a noble sport, it’s taught me things about myself I didn’t know & brought me strength levels that I would have only dreamed of a year ago. But what the sport has taught me more than anything, & taught me the harshest way possible, is the discipline to know when enough is enough, & to rest, to limit my training session lengths to 1.5 hours to 2 hours absolute max, to go for reps instead of failure, & to just get enough rest & recovery. In the past, I was training TO failure, FOR failure, & achieving nothing BUT failure.
Now I train for success. Know when enough is enough, & by doing so you’ll look upon that level you once called “enough” & scoff at it as a warm-up as you blast past it.
Failure rewards with failure. Rest rewards with success.
David is a Culinary Arts Student in Cork Institute of Technology and IDFPA national Champion in the -75kg T3 Division. He also runs the CIT Powerlifting Nutrition Facebook Page