Eat to Perform

By Tucker Loken

If you really care about your athletic performance, you’ll care about what you put into your body. ”Eating to perform” has become a theme I’ve heard over and over. It’s become almost synonymous with eating a bunch of crap each day with only one or two decent meals and some protein shakes thrown in.


“Oh, I’m a powerlifter (or Crossfit or whatever else), I don’t care how I look, I just eat to perform.”

Well that’s nice that you’re impervious to caring about your appearance… But how do you expect your body to feel and perform well if you’re shoveling junk into it every day?

I’ve heard all the strategies

  • Have chocolate milk with every meal
  • Make sure you carb up (all day and all night) the day before a big squat or dead lift
  • A Denny’s grand slam post workout is great for recovery
  • If you want to gain weight you need to buy 2 loaves of bread and 1 jar of peanut butter and must eat the whole thing every week.

The last one is my favorite – I have a friend who was a lineman on a D2 football team, and he said his coach would give them the bread and peanut butter and then check the dorms at the end of the week to make sure the lineman finished it. He said the first semester he did it was the fattest he ever got and the worst he felt. He didn’t keep it up for long because he got tired of indigestion as well as huffing and puffing going up stairs.


Some people can get away with eating unhealthy choices, their physique doesn’t reflect how unhealthy they are because they don’t hold weight easily. But just because you’re not putting on a lot of body fat doesn’t mean you’re not affecting your body with junk food.

Something to ask yourselfHow much do you respect your body? Do you view it as a finely tuned machine made to perform, or do you shirk that responsibility and instead let your taste buds command what you eat? Would you put regular unleaded in your Lamborghini? Would you give anything but the best food to your prize winning race horse? Even if it tasted awful to the horse? Of course not, you would only want the best fuel and best food, and you should treat yourself the same.


This whole eat to perform concept is great, but people get it skewed. It doesn’t mean eat whatever you want as long as you get plenty of protein and 5000 plus calories in you. It means eat the food that will help you perform the best, and those are always clean foods. Rice, potatoes, oats, meat, eggs, avocados, healthy oils, nuts, and vegetables have served many a high performing athlete, and they can help you too.

Let’s take my Denny’s grand slam reference – all that oil, sugar, preservatives and low quality ingredients aren’t doing your body any favors. Your digestive tract is working overtime to get all of that stuff through, and your other organs are busy filtering all the toxins that you’ve taken in so that they can get them out of your body as soon as possible. Your blood sugar spiked and then dropped, and over time your insulin response is blunted. The list goes on of how many bad things happen when you take in poor quality food. Just watch “Supersize me” and try to convince yourself the idea of pre-workout drive through to “fuel up” is a good idea.

When your body is dealing with that much other stuff, does it really have the energy to put towards being the strongest and most anabolic machine it can be? Not quite. But if those food sources were good old fashion steak and potatoes, chicken and rice, or eggs and oats, the story would be different. There’s a reason you actually feel better when you only eat clean food, your body is working as it’s supposed to and you’re fueling yourself with the best energy source possible.

ria brian pic

If you’re asking if this actually transfers to the real world and not just in theory, it absolutely does. The first example that comes to mind is a guy I’ve been working with for the better part of a year, and as soon as we started his program I got him off of the chocolate milk and pasta diet and gave him a new powerlifting performance based diet. I still let him have something that tasted good in there – I kept the PBnJ sandwich he was having, and added a protein shake with it to make it an easy, smaller meal between whole food meals, and he was having one good cheat meal each week. He immediately felt better, looked better and had better strength and pumps in the gym. Within just a month he crushed his old PRs on all of his lifts, hitting a 55lb squat PR as his best. The diet is just as important as the training program, and when those are lined up you’ll really see progress moving.

There are tons of people who are walking examples of this. I’ve worked with a handful of powerlifters who had been plateaued, and all it took was one look at their diet to know why. Once I gave them a legit, easy to follow diet, the gains started coming again.


You’ll see big changes not only in body composition, but also performance when starting a more stable and healthy nutrition plan. If you’re investing everything you have for a couple hours in the gym each day, it doesn’t stop there. You have to invest in the other 22 hours and make sure you’re getting the best foods possible to help you towards your goals.

The following two tabs change content below.
Avatar photo
Tucker Loken is a Bodybuilder turned Powerlifter turned Powerbuilder from Eugene, Oregon. He did his first bodybuilding show when he was still in high school, and has been training male and female competitors for shows since 2011. Several years ago he decided to take a step away from his normal routine and learn how to get strong. He worked with Brian for 9 months, added 200 pounds to his raw total and qualified as an Elite lifter in the 220 pound weight class. He returned back to bodybuilding much stronger and now incorporates the 10/20/Life philosophy into his training to keep himself healthy and making continual progress in the Big 3 as well as adding size and shaping his physique. Now part of Team PRS, he brings his unique expertise of nutritional knowledge and how to balance Bodybuilding with Powerlifting to help athletes achieve their best potential.
Avatar photo

Latest posts by Tucker Loken (see all)

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Contact Brian Carroll

Schedule A Consult Below

Take 25% OFF
Your first purchase
Subscribe Now!