Powerlifting lifestyle; cause for altered diet
December 19, 2017
As a powerlifter, being lifted into the right weight class determines how well you will do and who you compete against. Each person is put into a weight category that covers a range of around 10 pounds. Some athletes alter their diets to lose weight so that they can lift weights with people of lower muscle masses. This is often called “cutting weight” and is common throughout the powerlifting season, although coaches may not approve of it.
“I try to encourage them to eat clean… and to stay away from all that processed food” head coach Dennis Baker said, “most of the time, I don’t let my kids cut weight”. As powerlifters gain muscle, they must strengthen and repair old muscles with help from this relatively strict diet. “I personally prepare for weigh-ins in the long run” Returning lifter Abbey Larson said, “while I’m pretty hungry before weigh-ins, I don’t feel unhealthy because I know I had a really good diet”.
The athletes must stay aware of their weights throughout the weigh-in week. Each person is weighed an abundance of times throughout the season and before every meet so that the coaches can monitor their progress and make sure they aren’t dropping or gaining too much weight. “Our coaches are there for advice and health tips, but it is essentially up to the lifter whether they choose to lose weight or gain weight for a different weight class” junior powerlifter Rylee Bonafilia said.
As these athletes strive to land in their weight classes, some of them work to keep a lower weight by eating less food and drinking less water. “On the day of weigh-ins, I don’t eat at all and only drink in the morning” Larson said, “you go to the restroom as much as you can and you wear your lightest clothes on the scale”.
Overall, there is a justifiable stigma surrounding the weight you must be as a powerlifting athlete. Although the lifters are expected to maintain a healthy diet, it is not re-enforced individually by the coaches. This leads to athletes letting themselves go hungry for much of the weigh in week and not getting enough nutrients until they eat directly afterwards. “There’s instances when I get very hungry, but it’s a small price to pay for what I’m hoping the end result will be” Bonafilia said. The most important thing for powerlifters to realize is the need for a more long-term diet change, rather than a short period of starvation, combatted by an overload of fast food after weighing in.