Powerlifting Nutrition: A Day In The Life

By: Danny Vega

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am not prescribing anything. If you try to take this and apply it to yourself without any thought or research, you’re not very smart. Spend some time experimenting and identify what doesn’t work first, and eliminate it. Then find what works and stick to it. It’s as simple as that.

In the past 2-3 years, I have taken a strong interest in nutrition—specifically, what will help me perform the best (while not ruining my blood lipids and causing me to lose my girlish figure). I’ve tried several approaches, and in the past 6-8 months I think I’ve found what works best for me. I used to eat much less carbs (which led to a super cute midsection but little to no energy for my training), and much more fat (mostly in the form of things like bacon and fatty meats). This destroyed my blood lipids and led to elevated liver values. I have also found that eating too much protein does not give me any benefit, besides a bunch of excess calories.

Without going into too much detail, I have found that carb cycling works best for me. On training days, I consume about 1x my bodyweight in grams of protein, 2-2.5x my bodyweight in grams of carbohydrates (the harder the training, the higher that number is). Most of these carbs are consumed before, during and the few hours after I train. I fill out the rest of my calories with fat. On my off days, I cut the carbs drastically, since I don’t need them. Protein remains around 1x my bodyweight in grams, carbohydrates drop to about my bodyweight in grams (or less if I’m cutting), and I bump up the fat to avoid too much of a swing in calories, as well as keep me full. I use an app to track every meal. It’s been really helpful in teaching me the caloric content and macronutrients in the foods I eat.

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What does this look like? That’s the reason I wrote this article. I wanted to give an idea of what I eat to arrive at these calories and macros. We are creatures of habit. If you were to sit down and write down what you eat for a few weeks, you would probably find that you eat no more than 10 meals. So you don’t have to get too creative. Here are a few examples of what I eat on a typical training day, and a typical off day (keep in mind, I am trying to gain about 1lb a week for the next 10 weeks):

Training Day

  • 5am (about 1 hour before training):
    • 3 slices of wheat bread, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 3 tbsp strawberry jam, 1 cup of skim milk, coffee (black) or ½ cup fat free cottage cheese, 2 tbsp maple syrup, 3 chewy bars, coffee (black)
  • 6am (during training):
    • 1 scoop of vanilla protein, 1 scoop (4 tbsp) of orange Gatorade powder or 1 scoop of vanilla protein, 10 oz Welch’s fruit punch
  • 8:00 (post training):
    • 1.5 cups of white rice, 4 oz of ground turkey, 2 tbsp ketchup or 1 scoop of protein, 2 cups of cereal (lucky charms, fruit loops, etc. the key is to consume some high GI carbs for rapid absorption), 1 cup of skim milk
  • 11:30/12pm:
    • 2 Panera smoked turkey sandwiches with chips and a cookie or 4 chicken tacos on corn tortillas
  • 3pm:
    • Protein shake or a Quest bar to hold me over
  • 6pm:
    • 8 oz pork loin, 1 cup of white rice, 2-3 cups asparagus or mixed veggies or 2 slices of wheat bread, Turkey patty, 1 slice havarti, 1tbsp ketchup, 2-3 cups asparagus or mixed veggies
  • 8pm:
    • 1 cup of cottage cheese, 3 tbsp maple syrup or 2 slices of wheat bread, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tbsp strawberry jam, 1 cup of skim milk

Off Day

  • 6am:
    • ¼ cup of grits, 1tbsp unsalted kerrygold butter, 1 cup egg whites, 2 eggs, 3 slices Canadian bacon, 2 slices of Havarti cheese
  • 10am:
    • Quest bar or Chick fil-A 8 pc chicken nuggets
  • 12:30pm:
    • Bison burger no bun, bacon, cheese, Caesar salad no croutons, 1 cup green beans or two turkey burger patties, 2 slices of cheese, bacon, spicy mayo, 2 cups Normandy mix
  • 5:30pm:
    • 9 oz cod fillet, 3 cups Normandy mix, 3tbsp olive oil or two turkey burger patties, 2 slices of cheese, bacon, spicy mayo, 3 cups Normandy mix
  • 8pm:
    • 1 cup skim milk, 1 scoop protein, 4 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tbsp chia seeds

So these are what my typical training days and off days look like (they came straight from my calorie tracking app). I’m bulking, and I love to eat, so my life does not suck right now. But I’m not always this liberal with the calories. I’ll have to update this to show what I eat the next time I do a slow cut. One more thing, I drink 1.5-2 gallons of water a day. Fun fact: seven 16.9 ounce water bottles is equivalent to about one gallon.

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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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