You’ve spent countless hours in the gym over the last three months prepping for a meet and doing all of the things that you are supposed to do. You’ve trained hard, performed your mobility drills, managed stress levels, ate and supplemented well, and focused on quality sleep and ample hydration. Meet day is finally here and this is the moment that you have vigorously prepared for. You’re ready to showcase your abilities, hit some PR’s, and leave it all on the platform.
The challenge you face now is figuring out what to eat on meet day. Just because prep has come to a close, doesn’t mean you get free reign to eat whatever you want during the competition itself. Not if you want to perform at your absolute best at least. Which is sort of the entire point, isn’t it?
How you fuel yourself throughout a powerlifting competition will have a direct correlation to how you perform. It is easy to undo months of hard work simply because you were not fueled properly on the day of. Plain and simple. Don’t leave pounds off your total because you chose to eat for pleasure and fun and not for performance.
So, what do you eat during a powerlifting competition? The answer is much less glamorous than you might expect, but it will fuel you for success and ready to crush the day!
This should be a no-brainer, but it is easy to lose track of time throughout the day. Suddenly you are warming up for deadlifts and you’re now cramping and feel lethargic and dizzy because you only drank 30oz of water all day. First things first, make sure you drink at least 20oz of water upon waking and before leaving for the meet venue. This will start the day off on the right foot and keep you from chugging water before you start warming up for squats.
Staying hydrated also does not mean chug half a gallon of water in one sitting. The last thing you want to deal with is peeling off your singlet every 15 minutes to use the bathroom because your bladder is about to explode. Sip throughout the day and avoid consuming a large amount of liquids at any given time. There is usually a couple of hours between lifts depending on the size of the meet and how quickly it is running, so it would be advised to drink more during this timeframe so you are adequately hydrated prior to warming up for the next lift. You can sip on some water between attempts but refrain from consuming large amounts of liquids, so you do not need to rush to use the bathroom before you are on the platform again.
Good old fashioned H20 is paramount, but there are other types of beverages you can and should consume throughout the day as well to replenish electrolytes lost and glycogen stores. Remember, that a powerlifting meet often lasts upwards of eight hours! This is especially useful for those who have a difficult time eating during a meet. You can opt for a drink with simple carbs and sugar such as Gatorade, Powerade, Pedialyte as well as IntraBlast and SuperCarb to keep yourself in prime condition.
To make this simple – bring one gallon of water with you and a couple shaker bottles. You can drink your water straight from the gallon and use your shakers to mix the SuperCarb, IntraBlast, or anything of that nature as needed.
Simplicity Is Key
On meet day, your sole focus is on performance, and you’ll want your food choices to reflect this objective. First and foremost, you want to avoid dense, slow-digesting, and voluminous foods like greasy full sized-meals which can sit heavy in your stomach and will make you feel lethargic, bloated, and otherwise just not your best. That satiated feeling you get after crushing a full meal of food won’t help you perform on the platform.
Stick to easily digestible foods and snacks to munch on throughout the day to keep your energy levels up without making you feel like you need a nap and force you to adjust your belt. Rice cakes, bananas (also helps with muscle cramping due to replenishing potassium), pretzels, pb&j sandwiches (though be light with the peanut butter since fats are slower digesting), protein powder, even sour path kids are all great options.
Keep It Familiar
Powerlifters get a reputation for eating whatever they want and turning a powerlifting meet into a food festival. Remember that you are here to compete and showcase your strength, not eat every treat under the sun, save that for after the competition when you have an opportunity to indulge.
It’s important to refrain from eating a plethora of foods that are not in your normal diet as consuming these types of foods will likely upset your stomach and throw off your digestion. The last thing you want is a sudden urge to use the restroom as you are being called to the platform. Stick with foods that you eat regularly, and if you want to add in a few treats here and there, select choices that you know sit well with you.
This is especially important when constructing your breakfast prior to the meet, assuming you are competing in the AM session, which most do. Stick with your usual routine and eat your normal breakfast, though it would be recommended to incorporate fewer fats and more carbohydrates. This will fuel you properly prior to your first attempt squats and set you up for success throughout the day.
By implementing these tips into your meet day nutrition protocol, you will feel both mentally and physically prepared to showcase all of your hard work over the last few months!