Written by Ollie Matthews
It is notorious that those competing in strongman are a little, let’s say, ‘free’ with their nutrition.
Most tend not to be too strict on their daily intake, providing they get enough calories in to maximise their gruelling training schedules.
This can mean unlimited pizzas and ice creams for many as they have so many calories to pack into a day!
But what about when they are a little closer to an event?
It is vital that they reign in on the freedom they are enjoying and start to concentrate on fueling the body optimally for their best performance.
They are there to be the strongest man after all.
Nutrition plays a crucial part in how they perform at a show and vital in recovery between events.
If you have seen a strong man event, which I am assuming you have or are aware of them in reading this article, you will know how physically demanding the day is.
So it is a combination of both the training and the nutrition leading up to the event that will place those competing in the best position for winning.
The key is in the food source choices.
A serious competitor will start to ‘clean’ up their diet a few weeks out from the event, optimally 4-6 weeks of serious attention to diet.
The concept isn’t really too different from that of a bodybuilding competitor wanting to achieve their best physique.
But in this case it is to achieve maximum strength and endurance to see out the day.
On average, 5-7 meals will be consumed throughout the day to meet the high calorific requirements of the competitor and the food sources should be considered.
The breakdown of your meals should be as follows:
Allow for more lean protein sources.
Opt for protein sources such as chicken, turkey, fish, egg whites, lean steaks and lean pork. To meet additional protein requirements you can also opt for supplemented whey protein. Avoid food sources such as sausages, bacon, hamburgers (unless over 90% lean) – these foods are difficult to digest due to the amount of fat naturally occurring in the meat. 1-1.5g per pound of body weight should be included in your day. This allows for muscle recovery and enhance muscle growth.
Fuel up with carb sources.
Carbohydrates are the bodies preferred source of fuel and for a strong man event, fuelling the body is vital. The competitors that run out of fuel too soon simply do not eat enough carbs. You want to aim for 2-3 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight per day, and up to 4lbs per day on event day. Low GI carb sources will provide you with slow releasing fuel throughout the day, so opt for things like oats, brown rice, wholemeal pastas, sweet potatoes, etc. Ensure you eat plenty of vegetables and fruit to meet your micronutrient profile. It is an idea to have some high GI carb sources available to you during the more intense periods of the event – things like jelly beans or energy gels can provide you with some fast and effective energy release.
Don’t forget your fat.
Fat is required for hormone function, joint health and brain function, just to name a few. It can also be used for fuel if carb sources start to get depleted. So it is vital that you don’t miss it from your diet. The crucial element when it comes to fat is that you need to source from healthy fat sources. Good sources of healthy monounsaturated fats include olive oil, mixed nuts, avocados and peanut butter. Essential omega-3 fats are contained in oily fish such as mackerel or salmon, as well as flaxseeds and walnuts. Aim for 30% of calories from good fat sources.
Don’t overlook water.
Water is essential. Both protein and fat metabolism require water. Added electrolytes will help you stay hydrated as the sport is very demanding, and you should aim for at least 1 gallon per day, not the 8-10 glasses that is generally recommended.
In order to ensure you have enough fuel for the event, and to get those heavy lifts, you must be eating more than your daily calorific requirement.
If you don’t you simply won’t be performing optimally and won’t last the event.