Powerlifting Nutrition: Part Two

By: Danny Vega

About ten months ago I wrote an article sharing my opinions on nutrition for powerlifters, and what a typical day for me looks like. You can read it here. Fast forward to today, and I continue to experiment with and tweak my nutrition. I am once again bulking, but this time around I am trying some new ideas. I plan on sharing those again, along with a few examples of what to eat like I did last time. First, I want to share some thoughts on eating for performance.

Are you eating enough?

Our bodies are amazing. They are always working to maintain homeostasis. We have several mechanisms that can help maintain our temperature, energy balance, etc. This means that within a certain range of external stimuli, our bodies will work to stay the same. In the case of our bodyweight, we can eat up to a few hundred calories above or below our total daily energy expenditure and it will remain unchanged. So ask yourself, are you really eating enough to perform to the best of your ability?

First, are you tracking what you eat? I personally think this is vital. Some of us track portions, others who are OCD like myself track calories and macronutrients. I keep track of my sets, reps, weights, and RPE during training to see what works and what doesn’t. I think nutrition is just as important and should be tracked to see what does and doesn’t help my performance. If you’re not sure if you’re eating enough, try something new. For instance, add 75 more carbs to your post workout meal on training days.

Let’s say you train four days a week. Something like that would only add 1200 extra calories to your week, which would, at the most, lead to about a third of a pound gained in a week. Keep in mind that with a gain in lean body mass your resting metabolic rate goes up as well. So it may have minimal effect on your weight, but what could that do for your recovery? The least you can do is try and if you see your weight start to creep up, just cut it out. Personally, I’ve been playing with adding more carbs even on my off days and I feel better overall. My energy levels are up and so is my mood. Bottom line, you have to continually look at what you’re doing and find if there is something you can change to improve your performance.

Now, I thought this time instead of listing what I eat in a day, I could make a list of what my typical shopping list looks like these days. I have a membership at Costco, which makes it extremely cheap for me to get everything I need to eat whether I’m bulking, cutting, maintaining. The following is a list of my staples.

Shopping List

Basmati Rice
Tomato Sauce
Normandy Blend Vegetables
Quinoa and Kale
Ground Turkey
Boneless/skinless chicken breasts
Salmon Patties
Peanut butter
Butter Bread
Trail mix
Chewy bars
Cottage cheese
Fat Free Greek yogurt
Eggs and Egg Whites
Canadian Bacon
Raw Milk (purchased locally)

I’m a firm believer that more choices isn’t exactly better. I keep it simple and I pretty much eat the same meals all the time until I get sick of them. In my opinion, it really is this simple. I apologize if you expected something more complicated, but in my experience, following a simple diet like this has helped me get stronger and stay lean throughout the years. The key is consistency.


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Danny Vega

Danny Vega is a 220lb raw powerlifter with meet bests of 640 squat in wraps (610 raw), 400 bench, and 700 deadlift. A native of Miami, Florida, Vega received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University in 2004, where he was a member of the football team and a three-time Dean’s List recipient. Vega earned his masters of science in human performance from the University of Florida, where he worked with the national championship men’s basketball team along with women’s basketball, tennis, and golf programs. He then went on to become the Strength & Conditioning coordinator for VCU basketball. The Rams were 2007 conference champions and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
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