Many people have asked me what I eat and drink to give me energy for my competitive sport, powerlifting, while leading a busy life.
Over time, through trial and error, experimenting with different foods I learned that there are three principles that work for me. Nutrition for me has to make me strong, give me energy, be simple to prepare and the overall diet plan has to be sustainable.
When I started experimenting with my diet I used to call good nutrition “strong food”. That was before I heard the term “clean food.” But strong food means more to me, it is food that gives me energy for my sport and busy life. It does not make me feel sluggish and tired. I now see food as nutrition, as fuel for the day, helping me to stay strong and healthy.
Once I get the so-called “macros” right i.e. protein, fats, carbohydrates and making sure the food is varied so all necessary minerals and vitamins are covered I don’t worry about a detailed nutrition plan.
I am getting protein from natural sources, for example from dairy, such as kefir, buttermilk, yogurt, cottage and other cheese, and from eggs, chicken, turkey, beef or fish.
I don’t worry about the fat intake too much as I guess there is enough there in combination with the protein.
Changing my carbohydrate intake was the hardest. As I ate more protein and fat since taking up powerlifting, I had to limit my overall calorie intake from carbohydrates, so I would no put on weight and stay within my competition weight category.
Carbohydrates can come from three key sources, sugar, starch and fibre. As sugars have a higher calorie density, I switched to more complex carbohydrates, starches and fibres, for example vegetables, nuts, grains and legumes. Nuts and legumes in particular have the added benefit of being a good source of protein.
I now eat lots of vegetables, leafy greens, such as spinach, kale and cabbage, and other vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, beetroot, sauerkraut and asparagus.
Sustainable means for me that I can stick to a diet for a long time – for life! The food I eat needs to be easy and quick to prepare and available everywhere I might travel. For example, eggs, natural yogurt and cottage cheese are available in all countries I travel to, and so is spinach, peppers and most other vegetables.
Of course there is temptation to eat sweets. My weakness are chocolate and ice cream. So I usually eat chocolate during competitions, as a quick source of energy. I stick to good quality chocolate though, ice cream and other treats, and thoroughly and consciously enjoy them!