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PowerliftingToWin Presents:

EatingToWin
by Izzy Narvaez

NOTICE!

Israel Narvaez is not a medical doctor, licensed


nutritionist, or registered dietician and the information
contained herein should not be taken as medical advice.
These are only recommendations. These
recommendations should NOT be taken as medical
advice, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, cure or
prevent any health problem. Recommendations by Israel
Narvaez are not intended to replace the advice of a
physician or health professional. Please consult your
physician or a health professional before beginning any
diet or exercise program.

This book may not be reproduced or recorded in any form without


express written permission from the author.
Copyright 2015 by Israel Narvaez. All Rights Reserved.

Table of Contents
Foreword ................................................................................................................................................ 6
Introduction ......................................................................................................................................... 7
About PowerliftingToWin ................................................................................................................... 7
Introducing EatingToWin ............................................................................................................. 11
About the Author ........................................................................................................................... 11
Chapter 1: The Context of EatingToWin ...................................................................................... 14
Chapter 2: Performance Enhancement ........................................................................................... 16
Eat to Win........................................................................................................................................ 16
Chapter 3: Weight Class Management............................................................................................. 20
Weight Classes ................................................................................................................................ 20
Picking Your Weight Class ............................................................................................................ 20
Chapter 4: Body Fat Management.................................................................................................... 25
Why We Have to Manage Body Fat .............................................................................................. 25
Cutting and Bulking ....................................................................................................................... 27
Measuring Body Fat ....................................................................................................................... 31
Body Fat, Weight Class, and Competition ................................................................................... 34
Overall Recommendations for Managing Weight ...................................................................... 34
Chapter 5: Weight Cut Management................................................................................................ 36
EatingToWin Recap ....................................................................................................................... 36
Weight Cutting................................................................................................................................ 36
Weight Cutting in the Competitive Context ................................................................................ 38
Chapter 6: Putting The Big Picture Together ................................................................................. 40
Summary: The Why of EatingToWin ........................................................................................ 40
EatingToWin ................................................................................................................................... 40
Chapter 7: The Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance ................................................................... 41
The Fundamentals of Nutrition.................................................................................................... 41
Chapter 8: Energy Balance................................................................................................................ 42
Calories are King ............................................................................................................................ 42
The Correct Caloric Intake............................................................................................................ 43
Proper Rates of Weight Gain and Weight Loss ........................................................................... 45
Weight Loss Rates ...................................................................................................................... 46
Weight Gain Rates ...................................................................................................................... 46

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Making Caloric Adjustments ........................................................................................................ 47
My Personal Caloric Adjustment Rules ....................................................................................... 49
Chapter 9: Macronutrition................................................................................................................ 50
Macros ............................................................................................................................................. 50
Protein............................................................................................................................................. 51
Fat .................................................................................................................................................... 54
Carbohydrates ................................................................................................................................ 55
The Relative Importance of Energy Balance and Macronutrition ........................................... 57
Chapter 10: Meal Frequency ............................................................................................................ 58
Meal Frequency .............................................................................................................................. 58
Meal Frequency Recommendations ............................................................................................ 59
Chapter 11: Nutrient Timing ............................................................................................................ 60
Carbohydrate Timing .................................................................................................................... 60
Setting Up High Carb Days ......................................................................................................... 62
Summary: EatingToWin High Carb Days ................................................................................. 63
Fat Timing ....................................................................................................................................... 63
Protein Timing ............................................................................................................................... 64
The Relative Importance of Nutrient Timing and Meal Frequency ......................................... 64
Chapter 12: Micronutrition .............................................................................................................. 65
Does Eating Healthy Matter? ..................................................................................................... 65
Practical Micronutrition Recommendations.............................................................................. 66
Relative Importance of Micronutrition....................................................................................... 68
Chapter 13: Supplementation .......................................................................................................... 69
Do Supplements Matter?............................................................................................................... 69
Supplements with Strong Support ............................................................................................... 70
Supplements with Weaker Support ............................................................................................ 77
Chapter 14: The EatingToWin Nutrition System Summary.......................................................... 81
Chapter 15: An Example of the EatingToWin System.................................................................... 84
Chapter 16: How to Cut Water Weight ............................................................................................ 88
Water Intake Manipulation .......................................................................................................... 88
Sodium Manipulation .................................................................................................................... 89
Carbohydrate Intake Manipulation ............................................................................................. 90
Food Weight Manipulation ........................................................................................................... 91

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Supplements ................................................................................................................................... 92
Supplement Template ................................................................................................................... 94
Dehydration Tactics ...................................................................................................................... 94
Sauna Protocol ............................................................................................................................... 96
The EatingToWin Weight Cutting Protocol ................................................................................ 96
Chapter 17: Frequently Asked Questions ....................................................................................... 99
Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................ 100

Foreword
Optimal Training is Holistic

While I personally believe that any approach to powerlifting that pretends to be optimal must be holistic
in nature, please understand that this book is only going to cover nutrition. Again, I personally believe
that addressing programming, technique, psychology, supplementation, and a variety of other variables
are absolutely mandatory in constructing a truly optimal plan for any individual. That said, this is not an
all-encompassing resource.

If You Want More than Nutriton

If youd like more information on the aforementioned topics, please visit PowerliftingToWin.com. The
content on PowerliftingToWin.com is of equal quality to what youll find in this book. With everything I
do, I endeavor to ensure it lives up to the PowerliftingToWin namesake. I believe youll find that to be
the case as well. If, in particular, youd like more information on Powerlifting Programming, check out
our previous book: ProgrammingToWin.

Alternatively, if youd like a customized, personalized training package which covers programming,
nutrition, technique, psychology and more, all specifically tailored to your personal needs, please
contact me for more information about my coaching services.

Thank YOU for Your Time and Consideration

Finally, Id like to thank you for downloading EatingToWin. I have full faith that you will find the contents
herein especially worthy of your time and consideration. As I have said elsewhere, PowerliftingToWins
information is free and always will be. If you find this content to be of particular value to you personally,
please consider making a donation to support the continued of PowerliftingToWin.

I believe in freedom of information and I believe in the goodness of people. As such, I trust that those of
you who are in a position to make a contribution will do so if you find the material worthy.
Likewise, I am incredibly happy that those of you who are not in a position to make a contribution can
still enjoy this content freely. I take great pride in that fact. If you cant show monetary support, but
youd still like to show your appreciation for my work, please consider sharing this information with your
lifting friends. I cannot overstate the enormous impact that Facebook shares, forum posts, and the
YouTube community at large have had on the growth and success of PowerliftingToWin. Without all of
your social media love, this project would have died a long time ago. If you want to see it keep going,
sharing the information with as many people as possible is even more valuable for the survival of
PowerliftingToWin than a donation. Of course, any support you show is deeply appreciated!

I Owe Everything To YouTube

I know I havent been as active on YouTube as I have in the past, but the reality remains the same:
without YouTube PowerliftingToWin never would have come into existence. YouTube provided both the
inspiration for this project and the required social momentum to get the project out there for people to
actually see. Thanks so much for the support YouTube!

Long live the Tubes!

Have a nice day my friends,


Izzy Narvaez
www.PowerliftingToWin.com

Introduction
About PowerliftingToWin
PowerliftingToWin Is A Movement

PowerliftingToWin is a rebellion against the idea that maximal strength at all costs is the entire point of
the sport of powerlifting. The point of any sport is competition. Competition exists to determine who
the best athlete truly is. While strength is the largest component of what determines the best
powerlifter, it is not the only component.

Powerlifting and Stereotypes

Far too often the average bystander conflates powerlifting with tremendously huge, tremendously fat
men who both wear gear, including strange squat suits and bench shirts, and who take gear including
anabolic steroids, growth hormone, and a variety of other performance enhancing drugs. While this is
certainly one form of powerlifting, and an attractive form to many people, far too often the average
bystander isnt aware of the myriad of competitive options that powerlifting offers.
The reality of the situation is that the worlds largest powerlifting organization is the International
Powerlifting Federation (IPF). The IPF has nearly 100,000 member athletes. Of more importance, the IPF
is a drug-free organization that supports a large deal of raw lifters (those who train without special
suits and shirts). Unbeknownst to many, these natural, raw lifters are tremendous athletes who are, for
the most part, healthy, strong, and relatively lean. You dont have to be fat or take drugs to participate
in powerlifting.

Photo: www.powerlifting-ipf.com

Meaningful Powerlifting Competition

Not only that, but the IPF is the only organization in the world that consistently offers meaningful
competition across all genders and age groups. Thats right: the IPF supports the sports largest, by far,
womens and masters divisions. Anybody of any age, race, creed, or sex can compete for meaningful
national and world championships in the IPF.
In fact, the IPF was recently invited to partake in the World Games in 2008. This offered athletes the
opportunity to win Gold medals for their country an experience simply unavailable to any other
organization or any other type of powerlifter. Further still, the IPF hosts a World Championship every
single year. IPF Worlds is the only legitimate, unified world championship in the sport of powerlifting
today. While the contest allows only drug-tested lifters, there is virtually no argument in the
powerlifting community as to whom the best drug-tested, raw lifters are: they are the IPF World
Champions. Every other form of powerlifting is so splintered and scattered that youll almost never get
to see the best athletes go head to head.

Mike Tuchscherer brings home the gold for the USA!


Photo: jtsstrength.com

Whats my point in all of this? PowerliftingToWin exists to promote the sport as a real sport and not
merely as a gimmick to show off maximal strength. With the IPF, YOU, regardless of your demographics,
have the opportunity to win a gold medal in a meaningful world championship. With the IPF, YOU,

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regardless of your demographics, can set meaningful state, national, and world records. With the IPF,
YOU, regardless of your demographics, have access to serious competition to test your mettle as an
athlete.

This Book Is For Athletes


And that is exactly the idea that PowerliftingToWin promotes: powerlifters are athletes. As such, the
information presented in the following book will be coming from a frame of reference that targets
athletes who are doing their best to compete and win. Even if you choose to compete outside of the IPF,
and regardless of whether you are currently competitive at a local level, state level, regional level,
national level, or even international level, PowerliftingToWin is about providing strategies and practices
that maximize your opportunities for success as an athlete. PowerliftingToWin is not necessarily about
getting huge or maximizing your strength at all costs; PowerliftingToWin is about powerlifting to
win. You are an athlete and this resource is dedicated to helping you improve as much as is possible at
the actual sport of powerlifting.

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IPF Worlds:

Here Randy Zhou (left), Brett Gibbs (middle), and Jonnie Candito (right) represent the 83kg Juniors at IPF Worlds.
Photo: Courtesy of Jonnie Candito

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Getting Started with Competition

To find out more about the IPF, visit their website. If youd like information on finding a powerlifting
meet near you, PowerliftingWatch is a fantastic resource.

Introducing EatingToWin
What is EatingToWin?

EatingToWin is the second installment in a series of mini eBooks that PowerliftingToWin has been
producing. In the first installment, ProgrammingToWin, we took a look at what I consider to be optimal
programmatic practices for your first few years in the sport. While programming is certainly a massively
important aspect of powerlifting, nutrition is probably equally important. Which is more important?
Well, which is the more important bodily organ: your brain or your heart? Both. Both? Exactly.
While I do not claim to be the worlds foremost authority on nutrition, I do claim that nutrition is simply
not as dauntingly complicated as some would have you believe. Ive made a tremendous amount of
mistakes, nutritionally speaking, at least in part due to the misinformation surrounding nutrition in the
powerlifting community.
With EatingToWin, I simply endeavor to provide you with a simple, easy-to-use framework that will
allow you to make steady, consistent nutritional progress alongside your lifting program. I want to help
beginners avoid the traps of becoming needlessly fat and/or being too paranoid to add any weight
whatsoever. I want you to walk away from this reading with a big picture understanding of what youre
trying to do with powerlifting nutrition and how youre going to go about doing it.

About the Author


My Background

For those who arent already somewhat familiar with me, my name is Izzy Narvaez. I have been actively
competing in Powerlifting for four years. My best lifts in competition are a 551lbs/250kg squat, a
320lbs/145kg bench, and a 535lbs/242.5kg deadlift. Although, at the time of this writing, I am pace to
break all of my PRs in a meet I am participating in next weekend.

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Izzys Squat PR:

Izzy Squats 551lbs/250kg

I am a former Starting Strength Certified coach, a former gym owner, and I have hands-on practical
experience training dozens of novices through linear progression. Over the past year, I have also opened
an online coaching practice that has allowed me to work with approximately fifty athletes from the
complete beginner level all the way to those vying for National Championships in their respective
countries.

My Experience

Frankly, although I coach athletes on a daily basis, I consider myself an athlete first and foremost. Most
of my knowledge on the subject of nutrition was essentially born of necessity. I had to figure out how to
make myself more competitive. I had to figure out how to cut weight in order to maximize my chances
to win. In other words, virtually everything Im recommending here Ive put into practice both on myself
and on dozens of clients.

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Perhaps like many of you, when I initially started powerlifting, I was counseled to eat everything in sight.
This worked very well for strength gains, but, unfortunately, of course, it works even better for fat
accumulation. Being an athlete, having the dedication to lose the weight wasnt really the challenge. The
challenge was figuring out how to lose the weight without dropping my hard earned strength. Far too
many lifters in powerlifting are paranoid about losing strength while cutting.
Well, in this book, Im going to reveal to you the EXACT strategies I used to GAIN STRENGTH while losing
approximately 100lbs of body weight. Im going to show you how I cut from 163lbs to 148lbs in a single
day for a 24 hour weigh-in.
Look, Im not going to hold anything back. EatingToWin is a compilation of all the best strategies, ideas,
and concepts that Ive borrowed, developed, and put into practice during my time in powerlifting. The
ideas in this book have been drawn from some of the top coaches in the world who Ive had the
privilege of working with personally. The ideas in this book have been tested on myself and dozens of
my clients. In other words, to the best of my personal knowledge and experience, which is of course
limited (as is anyones), these are the optimal nutritional practices that will help drive your training to
the next level.
I hope you learn something new and I hope you benefit immensely in your training. Enjoy!

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Chapter 1: The Context of EatingToWin

Introduction
Nutrition in and of itself is a subject with vast and near limitless depth. When writing any snippet,
article, essay, or book about nutrition, first and foremost, one must define scope. The reality is that
optimal nutrition is highly contextual. What is your age, gender, activity level, medical status, and what
are your goals? These are only a few of the myriad questions that must be asked, and answered, in
order for an optimal nutrition strategy to be developed. As a powerlifting coach, catering nutritional
plans to each individual is a key component of my job.
However, in the case of this book, because I have neither the inclination nor the ability to cover the
broad spectrum of optimal nutrition for all populations, please understand that the information
contained in this book is explicitly aimed at powerlifters. And not just any powerlifter, but the
powerlifter who seeks to optimize his nutrition specifically for competitive purposes.

Powerlifting World Record Holders Dan Green and Jesse Norris understand the importance of maximizing nutrition for
powerlifting success.

Ultimately, the best diet in the world is completely worthless if you cannot adhere to its protocols based
on your current life circumstances. Again, because I cannot possibly accommodate all the various
possible life circumstances, this book is going to be written to a caricature of the hardcore competitive
powerlifter. I am going to assume that you have no compliance problems with any of the protocols
presented. In other words, I am going to assume, whether it is realistic or not, that your nutrition is one
of the top priorities in your life and that you are willing to sacrifice where necessary in terms of your
economics, social life, and overall willingness to discipline yourself

EatingToWin: The Goal

With all that said, EatingToWin is going to attempt to present you a practical, workable approach to
optimizing your nutrition throughout your competitive career as a powerlifter. The book is designed to

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guide you all the way to the advanced stages where, realistically, youll begin to need a highly
individualized approach for optimal results. At that point, you might want to consider a coach.
Before we can start laying down the groundwork for HOW to go about optimizing your nutrition for
powerlifting, we have to establish WHAT exactly it is that we are trying to do and WHY we are trying to
do it.
First of all, the primary point of ANY sport-related activity for the powerlifter should be simple: increase
your chance to win. Nutrition is no different.
A powerlifter can increase his chances to win through nutrition in two primary ways:
1) Performance Enhancement
2) Weight Class Management

The goal is to win!

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Chapter 2: Performance Enhancement

Eat to Win
Our relationship with food can often be a complex mixture of social, emotional, and biological needs.
While I couldnt even begin to cover the immensity of the previous statement, for the powerlifter, this
relationship is theoretically simplified. The point of nutrition is to increase their performance in the gym
and on the platform while maximizing their placing at any given meet.
For a powerlifter, food is fuel. With this simple fact established, the question then becomes what
precisely are the optimal types and amounts of fuel to optimize performance for the powerlifter.
Well, as many lifters intuitively know, or at least quickly figure out, for the most part, the more fuel, the
better. Now there are certainly limitations to this idea, but, without delving too deep into specifics at
this point, the more a powerlifter eats, the better theyre going to perform.

Why We Want a Caloric Surplus

While there are countless reasons this is the case, in my opinion, perhaps the most important is that
eating more tends to put you in a caloric surplus. Simply stated, a caloric surplus is when you consume
more energy than you burn off during the day; a caloric surplus is when you consume more calories than
you expend.

Arnold doing his best to create a caloric surplus

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When youre in a caloric surplus, your body has all the necessary energy it needs to maintain all
important bodily functions, repair damaged tissues, build new tissues using the surplus material, and, to
top it all off, store the rest of the excess energy for a rainy day.
From a powerlifters perspective, a caloric surplus is ideal because the surplus allows the powerlifter to
synthesize new muscle proteins and repair damage caused by previous workouts along with a host of
other benefits. Because of the recovery benefits of a surplus, a powerlifter can train more frequently
and with more overall training volume. Because of the increase in new muscle tissues (and other
positive adaptations), the powerlifter can lift more weight as well.
The increased frequency of training, alongside the additional training volume, increase both the rate at
which adaptation can occur AND the size of each new adaptation. The more you train, the more
frequently the body is forced to adapt. The more stress-recovery-adaptation cycles the body is put
through, the larger the cumulative adaptation will be. For more on the stress-recovery-adaptation cycle,
and other training related issues, check out ProgrammingToWin.

Stress>Recovery>Adaptation. This is how your performance increases over time.


Photo: Practical Programming 3rd Edition, Mark Rippetoe, Aasgaard Co. 2014.

You see, there is a positive feedback loop from training while in a caloric surplus. Because of the
increase in training frequency and training volume, the powerlifter increases their neuromuscular
efficiency and builds more muscle. Due to these positive adaptations, the next time the powerlifter goes
to lift, theyll be able to handle more weight and do more volume. As a result, theyll build even more
muscle and become even more efficient. Guess what happens next workout? Thats right! The positive
feedback loop is in full effect.

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More Fuel Means More Mileage: Eat More to Train More

Beyond the physiological changes that take place from training while in a caloric surplus, at an even
simpler level, as weve already stated, the more food youre eating, the more energy substrate you have
in your system while training.
In simple terms, the more fuel you have in the car, the longer you can drive the car. Training works the
same way. When youre eating more food, you can train longer and harder.
Of particular importance is your carbohydrate intake. You see, dietary carbohydrates tend to be stored
in the body as glycogen.
For strength athletes, glycogen is of enormous importance to training quality. Glycogen is used to help
create ATP (adrenosinetriphosphate) which is used, at a molecular level, to fuel anaerobic activity
(among other things). If you run out of glycogen during intense activity, your ability to quickly
regenerate ATP is severely compromised.

Here is an oversimplified version of how you fuel Anaerobic activity.


Photo: http://www.fsps.muni.cz/

What this all means is that you wont be able to do as many reps per set, you wont be able to do as
many sets total, and, often, you wont be able to train with the same overall intensity.
Additionally, you have to keep in mind that, in order to store each gram of glycogen, the body must also
store approximately 3-4g of water. When your glycogen stores are full, youre going to carry several
additional pounds of water in your muscles. While the performance benefit behind this isnt as
significant as adding new muscle tissue, the increased size improves your leverage under the bar
allowing you to lift more weight. This is similar to the positive cellular hydration benefits of the
supplement creatine.

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From a physiological perspective, as a powerlifter, there are direct and indirect performance benefits,
both in terms peak power production and the ability to sustain more training in general, to keeping
glycogen stores as full as possible.

The picture on the left is with full glycogen storage and the picture on the right is only partial glycogen depletion. Even the
visual difference is noticeable let alone the cellular difference.

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Chapter 3: Weight Class Management

Weight Classes
Now, after hearing the above information, you may be wondering why a powerlifter wouldnt want to
just stay in a caloric surplus all year. The answer lies in the fact that powerlifting is a weight class sport
and weight class sports require weight management.
If youre unfamiliar with the concept of weight classes, they are essentially just a competitive practice
used to increase fairness.
Here are the current weight classes in powerlifting:

Lets say that youre a 182lbs athlete. As you can see, in most federations, youre above the 181lbs
weight class limit. That means youre technically in the 198lbs weight class. Youll be competing against
athletes who weighed between ~182lbs and 198lbs.
If youre an IPF athlete, youll be just under the limit for the 183lbs weight class and youll be competing
against athletes who weighed between at ~164lbs and 183lbs.

Picking Your Weight Class


Of course, intuitively, the next question to ask is how do I know which weight class is right for me?
To answer this question, we need to take a brief detour to talk about what actually contributes to your
overall strength in powerlifting. Now, this is actually an insanely long list of factors: 1) neuromuscular
efficiency, 2) neuromuscular coordination, 3) muscle insertion points along the tendons, 4) muscle cross-

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sectional area, 5) training specificity, and a whole host of other factors that generally fall under the
umbrella of general genetic aptitude.
Given the above complexity in determining someones aptitude for powerlifting, lets keep our focus on
the primary factor relating to nutrition: muscle cross-sectional area. Thats right, bro; the size of your
muscles is one determinant of how much you can lift! Part of the point powerlifting nutrition, if you will
recall, is to increase the size of your muscles.

The Bigger Athlete is usually the Stronger Athlete

Here is the critical takeaway: While all other things are never equal, assuming everything else about two
athletes was exactly the same, whoever had the bigger muscles would lift more weight. Again, this is
critical to keep in mind. Why? Well, there is one athlete in the world that has everything in common
with you you! Assuming your training is on point, the more muscle you add the stronger you will be.
While you cannot directly compare to other athletes because of the complexity in determining what
someones max strength on the powerlifts will be, you can maximize your chances by manipulating the
variables that are under your control. Namely, you want to be in the weight class that allows you to
carry the most muscle as a percentage of that weight class.
Lets take a look at a few case studies to understand why.

Hypothetical Case Study Context: Understanding LBM

In order to make my next points more salient, we need to talk about the concept of LBM (Lean Body
Mass). Simply put, LBM is all the non-fat mass of your body. This includes muscle, bone, blood, skin,
organs, etc.

Lean body mass!


Photo: builtlean.com

If we know an athletes body fat percentage, we can use their total weight to determine how much LBM
theyre carrying. This can give us a very rough idea of how much muscle they carry. For example, if an
athlete is 200lbs and 10% body fat, we know that they carry 180lbs of LBM.
In the following head-to-head match-ups of different athletes, I want you to try and predict who would
be the winner in a powerlifting meet.

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Hypothetical #1: The Fat Athlete vs. The Lean Athlete

Now, for most of you, it is probably obvious which athlete is going to win this contest. Both athletes are
the same weight and the same height. Considering both athletes are likely to have similar leverages and
ranges of motion, unless there are HUGE neurological discrepancies, the second athlete is going to
dominate the first because he likely has far more muscle mass.
Being fat severely hurts your competitiveness. As such, you need to compete at a relatively lean body fat
percentage in order to maximize your chances.

Hypothetical #2: Taller vs. Shorter Athlete

As you can see, in this instance, both athletes have the exact same body weight, body fat percentage,
and LBM. However, you might have intuitively guessed that the shorter athlete was at an advantage
here.
Usually, the advantage of a taller athlete over a smaller athlete is that they can carry more overall
muscle mass. In most sports, the taller athlete isnt just taller; they tend to weigh more and they tend to
be bigger in general. When lifting weights, this usually more than makes up for the fact that the smaller
athlete has shorter limbs and a shorter range of motion. This is why we have weight classes, after all.
However, in this case, not only does the shorter lifter have a smaller range of motion, but he also clearly
has more muscle mass too. Why? Even though the LBM is the same here, more of the taller athletes
LBM is composed of skeleton mass, blood, organs, skin, etc. Because the shorter athlete has a smaller
frame, more of his LBM is going to be composed of muscle.
The shorter athlete now has a range of motion advantage, a leverage advantage, and they also have
more muscle. Unless the taller athlete is supremely gifted when it comes to the neurological side of the
equation, he will most likely be dominated by the shorter athlete.
What this hypothetical reveals to us is that you need to try and maximize the amount of muscle you
carry relative to your weight class. Even though the taller athlete is VERY lean, his lack of overall mass
puts him at a disadvantage versus the shorter lifter. Just being lean isnt enough.
Now, this isnt totally his fault. It takes a lot of time to build a lot of muscle. However, what we can learn
is that, in the long run, we want to try and gain enough muscle, while staying relatively lean, that we are
one of the shortest athletes in our weight class.

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Hypothetical #3: The Smaller Athlete vs. The Bigger Athlete

Now, this is perhaps our most interesting hypothetical yet. These two athletes are the same height, and
they have the same body fat percentage, but they dont weigh the same. In fact, this hypothetical is
almost more interesting if you pretend that Athlete A and Athlete B are the same athlete just at
different points in their career.
Who is likely to be more competitive in their weight class: Athlete A or Athlete B? Well, if youre
following the logic and the example set in our second case study, you should be voting for Athlete B.
Why? Because, again, he is carrying a higher percentage of muscle relative to the weight class limit. He is
likely to possess a larger leverage, range of motion, and total muscle mass advantage over his
competitors than his former self does in the lighter weight class.
Hes more likely to be one of the shortest and one of the most jacked athletes in his weight class. Hell
be more likely be the athlete with the most muscle mass in the entire division. This gives him his best
shot to win.

Case Study #4: Top of the Class vs. Bottom of the Class

This is an interesting example because although these athletes have almost the exact same stats, they
wouldnt compete against each other in a meet. Why? Well, theyre in separate weight classes. In all of
our previous examples, the athlete with more muscle has the best chance to win. However, in this
example, that is not the case.
Why? Well, because Athlete B is actually at the bottom of his weight class, hes most likely at a major
disadvantage versus the other athletes in his weight class. For example, even though hes 10% body fat
and has a lean body mass of 163.8, a 198lbs athlete with a body fat percentage of 17% is going to have a
bit more muscle and still be in the same weight class (198*.83=164.3)! Imagine the advantage athletes
who are at the weight class limit, but who ARENT fat might have. For example, lets consider 198lbs
athlete with 10% body fat: 198*.9=178.2. In this case, despite being lean, despite having muscle, Athlete
B still might have ~15lbs less muscle than someone at the top of his weight class.
Now, the conclusion to draw from this case study is by far the most nuanced yet. At first glance, it might
appear that you dont want to move up weight classes, ever. However, that isnt quite correct because
weve already noted, in Hypothetical #3, that if you CAN fill out to the top of a weight class, youre going

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to take your game to the next level. As weve seen in Hypothetical #4 though, in some cases, moving up
weight classes too soon can be a mistake. Were going to discuss the conundrum of getting caught
between weight classes like this in more depth later, but, for now, just keep in mind that, if at all
possible, it makes more sense to be at the top of your weight class rather than the bottom.
In sum, this is why we want to carry as much muscle as possible relative to the weight class limit. This is
going to involve being lean, being one the shorter athletes in the weight class, AND making sure were
weighing in at the top of the weight class.

This picture features three World Record Holders from Right to Left: Chris Duffin (220lbs/100kg), Zahir Khudayarov
(275lbs/125kg), and Dan Green (242lbs/110kg). None of these competitors are much taller than ~59 or ~175cm.

25

Chapter 4: Body Fat Management

Why We Have to Manage Body Fat


Lets take a few steps back and summarize where were at in our quest to understand how best to
manage our nutrition in powerlifting.
First of all, we know it is highly desirable to be in a caloric surplus because this allows us to build more
muscle, to recover more quickly from hard training, to have more fuel for high volume training sessions,
and we can also keep our glycogen tanks on full.
We also know that, in order to maximize our competitiveness within a weight class, we need to stay lean
and we need to carry as much muscle as possible as a percentage of the weight class limit. In practical
terms, wed like to be the shortest, most muscular guy at the top of weight class were competing in.
So, with this information, you might be thinking, well, the equation is simple. We just want to stay in a
caloric surplus all year long while only adding muscle and never adding any fat.
If only it were that easy.

The Importance of P-Ratio

P-Ratio (protein ratio) has to do with something called nutrient partitioning. As the name implies, and
in overly simplified terms, the body partitions nutrients either towards protein synthesis or fat storage.
There are numerous factors that determine what your actual P-Ratio is.
The most important factor, unfortunately, is just genetics. Some people are blessed when it comes to
the ability to synthesize new muscle proteins. For these people the ratio will be skewed further towards
protein synthesis than for other people even absent training or proper nutrition.

26

Here is the famous Arnold Schwarzenegger at only 16 years old. Some people are blessed.

However, EVERYONE can influence P-Ratio positively in three primary ways: 1) through their training, 2)
through their nutrition and 3) through the use of drugs such as steroids. We arent going to discuss
performance enhancing drugs, but I wanted to mention that fact for completeness and so that people
understand muscle building is easier for the enhanced athlete.
Through hard training, you provide an adaptive stimulus to the body that promotes muscle growth. I
mean, this is the basis of all weight training, right? When you lift weights, you get stronger and you build
bigger muscles. It works. Training only skews the rather further towards protein, though.
If you optimize your nutrition, you can also skew the ratio towards protein. This primarily happens
through ensuring an optimal dietary protein intake as well as an appropriate overall caloric intake. If you
dont eat enough protein or calories, you wont maximize your muscle protein synthesis. On the other
hand, if you eat too much, youll realize you can only build so much new muscle and the rest is simply
stored as fat.

27
All this said, the main point I want to get across to you is this:
No matter what you do, whenever you gain weight, a certain ratio is going to be fat gain.
No matter what you do, whenever you lose weight, a certain ratio is going to be lean body mass loss.

Cutting and Bulking


Even with perfect nutrition and training, youre still likely to gain anywhere from 30-60% fat per pound
gained. In other words, you simply cannot stay in a caloric surplus forever without getting fat.
Eventually, it will happen. If youre familiar with bodybuilding, this is why athletes traditionally have
cutting and bulking periods.

Professional Bodybuilder Lee Priest taking the concept of cutting and bulking perhaps a bit too far.

Simply put, once the athlete reaches their maximal acceptable level of fatness, they initiate a diet or a
weight loss period. This is called a cut. Athletes cut back down to a certain level of leanness that
theyve deemed appropriate and then they initiate a bulk or a weight gain period. The athlete then
stays in a caloric surplus until theyve reached that maximum level of fatness again. Guess what they do
next? They cut.
The point of this whole cyclical process is that, each time you finish a full cutting and bulking cycle, you
should be starting off with more muscle than you had last time. Although a certain percentage of weight
gain is always fat, and a certain percentage of weight loss is always lean body mass, if you cut and bulk
properly, you should be able to come out with net positive amounts of muscle after each cut and bulk
cycle.

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What Body Fat Levels Are Appropriate?

Of course the natural question to ask is what is the optimal body fat range for powerlifting? In other
words, how do you know when to cut and bulk?

Example of various body fat percentages to give this section some context.
Photo: builtlean.com

29
On the surface, you might think that the lowest body fat possible is going to be best. After all, the more
muscle you carry as a percentage of the weight class, the bigger advantage youre going to possess
versus the competition.
However, all athletes start to experience performance problems when they get too lean. The body
simply isnt designed to deliver peak performances while youre in the mid-single digits of body fat
percentage. The only real question here is how lean is too lean?
Now, the problem with answering this particular question is that a significant amount of variation exists
between athletes regarding the best body fat for them personally.

Functional Body Fat Range

You see, everyone has what you might call a functional body fat range. Inside this range, their
performance in the gym is relatively normal, their body tends to gain and lose weight with a reasonable
P-ratio, and, in general, they are healthy and hormonally balanced. However, outside of this functional
range, things start to get whacky.
For instance, if you get too fat, and go outside the top of this range, youre going to experience worse
and worse results in terms of your P-ratio. While there are many reasons this is the case, fat tends to be
estrogenic; testosterone binds to it. The more fat you have, the worse your testosterone levels are going
to be. This is going to have a direct impact on how well you synthesize new muscle tissue.
Similarly, when youre too lean, performance tends to plummet in the gym. Although I dislike the term
starvation mode, it isnt that inaccurate of a descriptor in terms of what your body goes through when
you drop below your functional body fat threshold. Youll be hungry all the time, psychological intensity
will drop in your workouts, overall energy will be down, and youll start to lose more muscle per pound
of body weight lost. In other words, much like getting too fat, getting too lean also worsens P-ratio for a
complex variety of reasons. Not least of which is the fact that catabolizing muscle just starts to be more
and more efficient when your fat stores become very low.
Please keep in mind that these are overly simplified explanations for why P-ratio worsens at extreme
levels of body fat (low or high).

So What is the optimal level of body fat for powerlifting?

With all that said, your job, as a powerlifter, nutritionally speaking, is essentially to find and operate
within your functional body fat range. For most athletes, a good estimate of this range is approximately
10-15% body fat for males and 18-23% for females. Once most athletes get too far below these levels,
performance problems accelerate and you start losing a bit too much muscle tissue for further dieting to
be practical.

30

Examples of various body fat percentages for women


Photo: builtlean.com

31
However, you must keep in mind that 10% will be too lean for some males and other men will be able to
go as high as 18% without any ill effect. In order to be sure what your range actually is, you need to do
several cut and bulk cycles. After each cutting period, note what body fat levels started to cause
problems in terms of losing performance in the gym and also take note of where you seemed to start
losing primarily muscle. From here, you can at least establish a reasonable minimum body fat level. Try
not to cross below this threshold in the future.
Once you have a reasonable minimum established, try not to go more than 4-6% above this level. The
reason for this is that you dont want to put yourself in a position where, in order to get down to your
competitive weight, you need to diet for 4-6 months or more. Most powerlifters compete every 3-6
months at a minimum. If you need 6 months just to get in competitive shape, youre going to greatly
limit your opportunities to get on the platform, gain experience, and test whether or not your training is
actually working.

Measuring Body Fat


If youre going to try and stay within specific body fat ranges, you need a way to measure your body fat.
It is important to realize that there is no truly accurate method of measuring body fat except dissection.
Raise your hand if youre willing to die to get an accurate body fat measurement! No takers? Weird.
While certain measurement systems are certainly more effective than others, all of them contain
assumptions. Even the gold standard DEXA scan can be off by as much as 5% for particular individuals
that fall outside the population a particular equation was developed for. 5% is our entire cutting and
bulking range! Not only that, but you simply cannot take a DEXA scan every single week to make
nutritional decisions.

DEXA scans are usually quite accurate, but you cant use these on a regular basis which limits their utility for decision making
purposes.

32
Ultimately, what we really need here is not accuracy but precision; we need something that is going to
give us a reliable, repeatable measurement that we can then anchor to reality. To that end, I have two
primary recommendations: take pictures and measure your waist around the belly button with a
measuring tape.
In particular, you might consider a MyoTape because they click once youve pulled them to a certain
level of tightness. This increases precision.

The MyoTape.

The Mirror Method

The first and most reliable indicator of body fat is the mirror method. We can contort the numbers in a
lot of ways, but if you have a pot belly, youre probably not at a low body fat. Likewise, if you have veins
on your six pack, youre most likely pretty damn lean. This picture does a great job of helping us get a
visual estimate of our body fat percentage:

33
In order to document the mirror method, simply take a weekly picture with your abs flexed. You can
easily do this alone in the bathroom. Pictures allow us to make an impartial visual estimate while
keeping a weekly record. This information can help you make decisions about when it is time to cut and
when it is time to bulk. Make a note in your training logs of when your performance starts to drop
significantly in the gym while on a cut. Take a look at your current pictures to get a visual reference for
what might be your leanness limit.

Waist Circumference Method

While your waist measurement may not yield an accurate body fat %, it definitely gives you the cold
hard truth of the situation. If youre a fully grown male of average height, and your waist is 35-36+, you
probably need to start losing weight. Likewise, if youre a fully grown male of average height, and your
waist is ~30, youre probably not carrying a ton of fat.
Obviously, waist measurement isnt a perfect indicator, but it is one of those consistent, repeatable
measurements that strongly correlates to body fat levels. If you notice that your performance in the gym
starts cratering at a certain body fat level, check to see what your current waist measurement is. In the
future, you can use this measurement as an indicator that youre nearing your limits in terms of
leanness.
One waist measurement method that Im fond of is the Navy Method. Again, this isnt a super accurate
method, but it only requires your height, neck circumference, and waist circumference. Females will also
need hip circumference.

How to measure using the Navy Method


Photo: scientificpsychic.com

Rather than taking the numbers it spits out as your accurate body fat level down to the decimal, again,
simply use these numbers as anchor points for when you cut and bulk. In the future, you can use these
objective measurements to make these decisions rather than playing games with yourself in the mirror.
With objective measurements, you can take some of the self-questioning and waffling out of your
cutting and bulking choices.

34

Body Fat, Weight Class, and Competition


Lets return to our hypothetical case study model to put this into the context of competition.

As you can see, out of these two athletes one weighs ~190lbs at 15% body fat and the other weighs
~195lbs at 15% body fat. If these athlete have a meet coming up in a few months, how do we determine
what weight class each should compete in? In this case, we have to calculate what their body weight
would be if they achieved their minimum acceptable body fat levels.

For athlete A, we can see that, if he reaches his minimum level of 10%, he can make the 181lbs weight
class. As weve learned with past examples, hes going to be more competitive in a weight class where a
larger percentage of the weight he carries is muscle. Because he doesnt have to drop below 10%, hes
unlikely to experience a significant performance drop from making this cut. Therefore his goal should
definitely be to diet into this meet in order to be more competitive.
However, Athlete B is in a bit of a predicament. If he gets down to 10%, hell still be just north of 181lbs.
Hed probably have to drop to somewhere closer to 8% body fat. If he does this, there is a serious risk
hell experience significant performance decrease. As such, his goal should likely be to just fill out the
198lbs more effectively. For now, hes in the somewhat dreaded position of being stuck between
classes. Well learn how to avoid this in a future chapter.
The takeaway lesson here is that you want to compete in whatever weight class that you can without
going below your minimum acceptable body fat level. This is going to maximize the amount of muscle
you carry relative to the rest of your competitors in that weight class. Youll have a better overall shot to
win the class.

Overall Recommendations for Managing Weight


When your pictures and the Navy Method are putting you right around 10% for males and 18% for
females, it is time to start bulking. When your pictures and the Navy Method are putting you around

35
15% for males and 23% for females, it is time to start cutting. Try to stay within this range. If necessary,
modify the range to suit your individual needs by keeping track of your performance throughout your
cutting and bulking cycles.
When considering an upcoming meet, ask yourself what weight class could you make if you hit your
minimum acceptable body fat level? If you can drop a class through dieting, without getting too lean, do
so. If you cant drop a weight class without dropping below your minimum acceptable body fat, do your
best to compete in the weight class youre already in.

36

Chapter 5: Weight Cut Management

EatingToWin Recap
With the next piece of the puzzle now in place, lets take another step back to analyze where we are so
far in terms of the overall context for powerlifting nutrition.
1) We know that we want to spend as much time as possible in a caloric surplus in order to build
new muscle tissue, be able to perform more training overall, recover from that training more
effectively, and to keep our glycogen tanks on full which helps accomplish all the
aforementioned goals.
2) However, we also know that, in order to maximize our competitiveness, we want to be in the
weight class where we can maximize the amount of muscle that we are carrying compared to
our competitors. This both means being relatively lean and being one of the shorter competitors
in our weight class.
3) It isnt feasible to stay in a caloric surplus all year while staying relatively lean. As such, we must
go through cutting (dieting) periods and bulking (gaining) periods. In general, males should cut
when they hit ~15% body fat and bulk when they hit ~10%. In general, females should cut when
they hit ~23% body and bulk when they hit ~18% body fat. We must manipulate our cutting
periods so that, at competition time, we get into the lightest weight class possible without going
below our minimum acceptable body fat level.
So, is this the final overview for weight management? Are all the pieces in place to help us decide which
weight class is best for us at any given upcoming meet? No. Not yet. We havent talked about the long
upheld practice of cutting weight for a meet.

Weight Cutting
Weight cutting is practiced by virtually all weight class athletes in all weight class sports. What is weight
cutting, you ask? In essence, this is the practice of trying to weigh-in at less than the weight youll
compete at.
You see, the weigh-in times for athletes are not at the start of the competition. In powerlifting, there are
two common weigh-in practices. The first, which youll find in the IPF and its affiliates, is the two hour
weigh-in. As the name implies, this means that youll weigh-in two hours before you begin to lift.
However, most federations actually employ a 24-hour weigh-in. In other words, you dont lift until a full
day after youve weighed in.

37
Competitors take advantage of this to cut weight. By partially dehydrating themselves to various
degrees (losing water weight), manipulating sodium intake (sodium influences how much water youre
holding), eliminating dietary carbohydrate intake for a time (glycogen requires water to be stored), and
emptying their bowels (taking laxatives or consuming a liquid diet for a time), competitors can often lose
a VERY significant amount of body weight for weigh-ins. They often gain most (or all) of this weight back
by the time they actually have to get on the platform and lift. Note that none of this weight is muscle
mass. This is all transient body weight consisting of fluids and material in the bowels/guts.

Two competitors sit in a sauna in order to dehydrate themselves to make weight.

Now, it is incredibly important to point out that many of these practices are not entirely safe. If youre an
adolescent, cutting weight may impede your physical and sexual maturity. Regardless, if you do not
know what you are doing, do not attempt to cut weight without the supervision of a licensed
professional.

How much weight can you cut?

Exactly how much weight you can cut for a meet depends on how long the weigh-in is. Generally
speaking, the longer the weigh-in, the more weight you can cut.
For a two hour weigh-in, you can usually effectively cut 3-5% of your body weight. 5% tends to be
pushing it, but some athletes manage this without too much of a negative impact on their performance.
For a 24 hour weigh-in, some competitors cut as much as 15% body weight. In my opinion, this isnt
remotely safely. In fact, some high level competitors have put themselves in the hospital attempting
such weight cuts. Anything more than 10% is probably asking for trouble if youre not HIGHLY
experienced. Do NOT try this type of weight cut alone!

38

Why does weigh-in time affect how much you can cut?

The reason that you can cut more weight for a 24-hour weigh-in primarily has to do with two factors: 1)
how long it takes to rehydrate and 2) how long it takes to resynthesize glycogen. Most of the tactics
discussed above revolve around the practice of temporarily losing water weight. In the end, most of
these tactics involve some kind of dehydration in order to be effective.
Well, the reality of the situation is that you can only rehydrate so much in a given time frame. Because
even minor dehydration has been shown to cause as much as a 10% drop in performance in some
athletes, youd be wise to limit your weight cutting to an amount where you can fully rehydrate before
you compete.
For a 2-hour weigh-in, this isnt nearly as much water. For a 24-hour weigh-in, some competitors are
near the edge of death (Im barely exaggerating) when they weigh-in. Because they have a full day to
rehydrate, theyre often alright by the time the competition comes along.
The story is similar for glycogen resynthesis. Depending on the size of the athlete, you can only
resynthesize somewhere around 50-200g of carbs every 2-3 hours. The exact number is very hard for me
to pin down, but the central point is that you can only refill those glycogen stores so fast. If you
completely deplete your glycogen stores, in order to lose all the associated water weight in the muscles,
you can often drop a significant amount of additional weight. However, with a 2 hour weigh-in, you
wont have time to put it back on and the loss of glycogen will affect your leverages and your
performance.

Weight Cutting in the Competitive Context


Remember our 195lbs athlete who was 15% body fat? To jog your memory, he couldnt make the 181lbs
weight class because he would have had to drop below 10% body fat in order to do so. However, using
weight cutting practices, hell have no trouble whatsoever making 181lbs. In fact, lets put up a basic
chart looking at what body weight youd have to be in order to make a certain weight class given a 24hour weigh-in or a 2-hour weigh-in.

39
As you can see, for a 24-hour weigh-in, you can be as large as ~200lbs at 10% body fat and still make the
181lbs weight class! What this effectively means is that, with a 24-hour weigh-in, an athlete who
weighed ~211lbs in the off-season at 15% body fat could still cut down to ~200lbs at 10% body fat and
compete as a 181lbs lifter. Yes, thats right; it is possible for a powerlifter to train at ~30lbs above his
competitive class on a 24-hour weigh-in!
Even with a 2-hour weigh-in, you could weigh ~190lbs at 10% body fat and still make the weight class.
This changes everything in terms of our calculations and when we should move up weight classes.
In fact, you should only move up a weight class when you can no longer make weight without going
below your minimal acceptable body fat threshold and without cutting more than 5-10% water weight
(depending on weigh-in length)!
Now, even though everyone knows about these practices, I can tell you, from firsthand experience, that
most competitors are not necessarily lifting to win. Theyre lifting for their own personal growth,
which is absolutely fine and commendable. However, if you learn to master this combination of dieting
and weight cutting, you can earn yourself a tremendous advantage in your weight class by being the
biggest competitor in it. Most people simply wont do what it takes to cut this much weight while being
lean. It does hurt your performance to some degree, but the advantage you gain by dropping a full
weight class (or more), is usually more than worth it.

40

Chapter 6: Putting The Big Picture Together

Summary: The Why of EatingToWin


Alright, now that weve got all the pieces we need to put the big picture together.
The primary purpose of powerlifting nutrition is two-fold:
1) Performance Enhancement
2) Weight Management
In terms of performance enhancement, we know that we want to spend as much time as possible in a
caloric surplus in order to build new muscle tissue, to be able to train more, recover more effectively
from that training, and to keep our glycogen tanks on full. Even when we diet, we want to eat as much
as possible while still achieving our weight loss goals because of the aforementioned performance
enhancement benefits of food (and carbs in particular).
However, we must manage our body weight in order to maximize our competitiveness. Our goal is
always to compete in the weight class that maximizes the amount of muscle we can carry relative to the
weight class limit. In order to do this, we must use a combination of staying lean and cutting weight.
In order to stay lean enough, we will cut and bulk between approximately 10% and 15% body fat if we
are male and approximately 18% and 23% if we are female. This puts us in a position to never be too far
away, in terms of diet length, from being able to get to our competitive body fat level.
In order to determine our competitive weight class, we will calculate which weight class we can make
when we combine our 5-10% water cut with our projected body weight at our minimal acceptable body
fat threshold. If you can no longer make a weight class without going below your minimal acceptable
body fat threshold and/or having to cut more than 5-10% water weight (depending on your weigh-in
length), you need to move up a weight class.

EatingToWin
1) Maximize calories in the context of an appropriate diet
2) Cut and Bulk between 10-15% body fat if youre male; 18% - 23% if female
3) Compete in the lowest weight class possible while staying above your minimum acceptable body
fat threshold and cutting no more than 5-10% water weight (depending on your weigh-in length)
4) Repeat this process over time to slowly move up weight classes and become more and more
competitive.
Now that we understand why we are doing what we are doing, it is time to examine the HOW of
powerlifting nutrition.

41

Chapter 7: The Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance

The Fundamentals of Nutrition


If youve ever tried to have a conversation with anyone about weight loss, dieting, or nutrition in
general, youll realize that the vast majority of people are majoring in the minors. When my friends and
family who are not very familiar with the fitness world ask me nutrition questions they almost always
revolve around which foods to eat or which supplements to take.
I debated long and hard about whether or not to include a basic primer about nutrition in this book, but,
in the end, I decided that it would be necessary to discuss at least some of the basics in order to make
sure that were all on the same page.
As such, Id like to introduce to you a concept Ive adapted from work by Eric Helms and that is the
Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance. When were talking about achieving our nutritional goals, here are
the main factors we need to consider in order of importance in my opinion:
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)

Energy Balance
Macronutritition
Meal Frequency
Nutrient Timing
Micronutrition
Supplementation

My goal here is that you walk away with a big picture understanding of how nutrition works when were
talking about body weight management and performance enhancement for powerlifting purposes. I
want you to see each piece of the puzzle in its proper place rather than giving undue consideration to
areas which simply dont matter as much.

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Chapter 8: Energy Balance

Calories are King


Regardless of what some nutrition gurus would have you believe, the sole determinant of whether or
not you lose weight or gain weight comes down to whether or not you are in a caloric surplus or a
caloric deficit.
Let me be very explicit about what that means.
If you are burning more energy than youre consuming, if you are eating less calories than youre using,
you will lose weight. This is called a caloric deficit.
If you are consuming more energy than youre using, if you are eating more calories than youre using,
you are going to gain weight. This is called a caloric surplus.
If you are consuming just as much energy as youre burning, if you are eating as many calories as youre
using, you wont see a change in body weight. This is called your caloric maintenance level.
You can eat all the chicken breast, brown rice, and vegetables in the world, but if you are eating too
much, you will gain weight. Period. Likewise, if you budget your calories correctly, you can lose weight
on McDonalds, cookies, and ice cream. This has been proven many times over by yours truly.

When you tip the balance towards the right side, youre in a caloric deficit and when you tip the balance towards the left
side, youre in a caloric surplus.
Photo: eattoperform.com

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Lets refocus here. If youre trying to bulk and cut between specific percentages of body fat, the only
way youre going to be successful is if youre consuming the right amount of calories on a daily basis. If
youre trying to cut weight on a caloric surplus, it just isnt going to happen. Likewise, if youre trying to
gain weight, but it isnt happening, youre just not eating enough PERIOD!
If youre trying to gain weight, you need to be in a caloric surplus. If youre trying to lose weight, you
must be in a caloric deficit. Im just reiterating this fact because it is truly of the utmost importance.

The Correct Caloric Intake


How can we be sure if were eating the right amount of calories on a day to day basis?
While there are many fancy formulas out there that endeavor to help you determine exactly how many
calories you need to eat each day to gain weight or to lose weight, the reality is that everyone has a
different metabolism. If you consider two people of the exact same body weight, one of them might
gain weight eating 2500 calories a day whereas the other might lose weight consuming the same
number.
The only way to be one hundred percent sure you are eating the right amount of calories per day is to
weigh yourself regularly to make sure your weight is moving in direction you intend it to.

Without a scale, to gauge progress, youre extremely limited in your ability to make accurate judgements regarding your
caloric intake.

You have to adjust your daily caloric intake based on real world data. There is no other way. You can use
the formulas if you want, but theyre just starting points. You have to adjust from the starting points
until youre seeing the correct changes in terms of your weight in the real world. Again, I cannot
emphasize this enough: how many calories you should eat is determined solely by the real world results
youre seeing on the scale.

Calorie Counting and the Reality of Dieting

In previous section of this chapter, I discussed calories in a manner that paints them as rather absolute.
You need to eat 3500 calories to make this happen or you need to eat 3400 calories to make that
happen. Back in the real world, this isnt a realistic way to approach calories.

44
Remember our discussions regarding accuracy and precision when it comes to body fat? Well, when
were talking about diet the same rules apply. There is no way to know, with any true accuracy, the
EXACT amount of calories youre eating. Labels are only accurate within 5-10% most of the time.
What are the practical implications here? We dont actually need to know the true, 100% accurate
calorie number youre consuming. We only need a fairly repeatable number that we can use as a bench
mark to adjust over time. If youre supposed to eat 2400kcal, but youre actually eating 2600kcal, this
doesnt actually matter if youre eating the same foods consistently. Why? Well, when you base your
intake decisions off real world data, youll still get the result youre looking for.
Follow my logic here. Lets say youre actually eating 3000kcal but you think youre eating 2000kcal. This
is a HUGE discrepancy and more than youd ever encounter in the real world. It still doesnt matter,
though. If youre not losing weight on your theoretical 2000kcal, youre still going to eventually reduce
the amount. Maybe the next week youll be eating a theoretical 1900kcal, but it is actually 2900kcal.
Eventually, because youre eating the same foods consistently, or youre getting a consistent inaccurate
measurement, youll be able to adjust downwards enough where you start losing weight. In the end,
because of the real world results that youre basing your decisions off of, precision and repeatability
matter more than absolute accuracy.

Recommended Caloric Intake Starting Points

For males trying to gain weight, Id recommend about 16x your body weight as a daily caloric starting
starting point. For losing weight, males can use a caloric figure of approximately 12x their body weight.
Females can use about 15x their body weight for gaining purposes and about 11x body weight for
dieting purposes.
For example, a 200lbs male trying to gain weight would eat ~3200 calories per day (200*16). A 150lbs
female trying to lose weight would eat ~1650 calories per day (150*11). Again, these values are starting
points.
If you already know how much you need to eat in order to maintain your weight, you can use the
general rule of thumb that there are ~3500kcal in a pound of fat. Therefore, because there are 7 days in
the week, youd need to create approximately a 500kcal calorie deficit per day to lose one pound per
week. In the real world, this doesnt work out so smoothly, but it is a decent place to start.
I must stress that you have to adjust these numbers based on what is actually happening in the real
world. You have to weigh yourself and see what is going on. I have seen males who need 20-25x their
bodyweight in caloric intake before they see weight gain. If thats you, keep adding calories until you see
the proper changes in weight youre looking for. If your weight isnt going up, youre still not eating
enough.

Absolute Calorie Values vs. Ranges

If you try to hit any calorie number exactly, youre going to drive yourself crazy. This is nearly impossible
to do in the real world. As such, Id recommend that you actually give yourself a calorie range.
Sure, keep using the baseline estimates above as starting points, but convert them into ranges. Id
recommend a 100kcal +/- buffer. If youre a 200lbs male, and youre trying to gain weight, instead of
trying to hit 3000kcal exactly, just consider any day that you fall into the range of 2900-3100 a success.

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As we discussed above when it comes to precision, the exact amount of calories you eat each day
doesnt actually matter. As long as keep your calorie range moving in the right direction, your weight will
also trend in the right direction as we make adjustments.
This calorie range not only helps keep you sane, but it makes it actually possible for you to be successful
on a daily basis. Trying to hit a specific number each day is a recipe for guaranteed failure.

Proper Rates of Weight Gain and Weight Loss


The next thing we need to discuss is the proper RATE of weight change that were looking for when
either gaining or losing weight.
Remember our good ole friend P-ratio? Yeah, well, hes about to make another appearance here. You
see, if youre losing weight too quickly, your body is much more likely to catabolize muscle protein
stores in order to help make up the energy deficit. Likewise, if youre eating far too much, well, you can
only synthesize so much new muscle tissue each day. The rest of your caloric surplus is likely going to be
stored as adipose tissue (aka fat).

You might gain muscle slightly faster with a larger surplus, but, most likely, youll just gain fat MUCH faster instead. I dont
recommend bulking at unreasonable paces.

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Weight Loss Rates

In other words, there are ideal rates of weight gain and weight loss to shoot for. Specifically, if youre
losing weight, you should be aiming for anywhere from 0.5-1.0% of body weight lost per week. The
leaner you are, the closer to 0.5% you should shoot for. The fatter you are, the closer to 1.0% you should
shoot for. For most, somewhere right in the middle is best.

Weight Gain Rates

In terms of weight gain, to minimize the amount of fat you gain, and thus elongate the time you can
spend in a caloric surplus (one of our main goals), you should be aiming for anywhere from 0.5-1.0% of
body weight gained per MONTH. Thats right; muscle gain is a far slower process than fat gain.
The newer you are to training, the closer to 1.0% you should shoot for. In fact, rank novices, for a very
short time, can gain even more than this. However, most of you would be best served by staying within
the recommended bounds.
The longer youve been training, the less important trying to gain weight is at all. For trainees with more
than five years of experience with proper training and nutrition, you might only gain 2-3lbs of new
muscle tissue per year. As such, a traditional bulking period where you purposely gain one pound a
month might not make sense. Even if everything breaks right, youre still likely to gain mostly fat. In
these cases, with very experienced trainees, the focus should be on eating as much as possible without
seeing any major changes in bodyweight while still ensuring proper recovery and progression in the
gym.
Let me be clear: most of you reading this have no business attempting the above strategy. You havent
built your base yet. Bulking and cutting will still be highly effective.

How can we be so precise with our rate of weight change?

Some of you may be asking how it is possible to be so precise with our rate of weight change. After all,
weight loss slows down after a period and people hit fat loss plateaus all the time. Well, again, this is
why we dont use formulas to determine our caloric intake.
The only way we can reach this level of precision in our rate of weight change is by measuring our
weight every single week and adjusting our caloric intake accordingly. In fact, if youre a committed
competitor, Id personally recommend that you take a running daily average of your weight every single
week.
Weigh-in naked first thing in the morning after using the bathroom and before drinking any water. This
practice is to minimize all variables. If you eat different meals, wear different clothes, or drink a different
amount of water before you weigh-in, the results are less meaningful. You have too many other
variables influencing the number.
At the end of each week, you can compare your average weight during the current week to your average
weight last week. By using a running average, you can eliminate the impact of any fluctuations from
unusual dietary or lifestyle circumstances. For example, if you sleep in really late one day, you will weigh
less than usual due to more dehydration. Similarly, if you eat a meal really high in sodium, youll likely
weigh more the next day than you usually do. By taking a running average, these fluctuations are
smoothed out.

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Making Caloric Adjustments


Lets talk about how to actually make caloric adjustments based on the weight readings that youre
getting. For example purposes, well assume youre dieting.
If at the end of the week you find that youve lost between 0.5-1.0% of your body weight, you can keep
your calories the same. If youve found that you havent lost enough weight, make a small adjustment
and take away some calories from your daily intake range. If youve found that youve actually lost too
much weight, make a small adjustment and add some calories to your daily range.
In terms of specific numbers, Id recommend making ~50-100kcal adjustments each week when
necessary based on what is happening with your weight.
While larger jumps can be attractive, weight loss and weight gain are not linear. That is, sometimes,
adding or subtracting in small amounts can produce whooshes where you burst past plateaus. Despite
the fact you made a small change in intake, a change that really shouldnt produce big results on the
scale, youll often see disparately large changes in weight.
When you indiscriminately slash or increase calories, often times you can produce a rate of weight loss
that is far too drastic or, on the other hand, gain weight too quickly. Simply be patient and make small
adjustments to your caloric range. This way, you know that youre eating absolutely as much as possible
while still achieving your goals.
If you decrease too fast, you run the risk of losing muscle and hurting your progress in the gym. You also
might leave yourself in a place where there simply isnt very much left to take away from. If you increase
too fast, youll gain unnecessary fat and have to dial the calories back anyways. Stick to the process of
slow adjustments to your caloric range.

Reversing Diet Direction: From Cut to Bulk or From Bulk to Cut

Before I give you my personal rules for adjusting caloric intake, there is one more aspect of dieting that I
want to discuss conceptually: reversing diet direction. This entire chapter, for the most part, has been
approached from the perspective of someone who doesnt know what their current caloric intake is or
doesnt know exactly what is happening to their body weight with a given intake.
However, lets say you actually succeed in following this whole process, and you cut down from ~15% to
~10% body fat. Both the Navy Method and your pictures are suggesting it is time to transition back into
bulking. What should you do?
Should you try to calculate the appropriate calories for bulking and jump straight to the larger intake?
Should you spend a few weeks at maintenance before slowly adding more calories? Should you
reverse-diet and spend months slowly adding calories to get out of the deficit?
Reverse-Dieting
Recently, the protocol for reversing diet direction has received a lot of attention. Dr. Layne Norton, in
particular, brought the concept of reverse-dieting to the forefront of discussion. In order to

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understand reverse dieting, you first have to understand what were trying to accomplish when we end
a diet.
One of the biggest problems with dieting, in general, is that dieting significantly alters a whole host of
hormones that control metabolism and hunger. When you first finish a diet, a disparity will exist
between your hunger levels and the amount of food you need to maintain your body weight. In some
instances, bodybuilding competitors have been known to put on 20lbs within weeks after completing a
competition style diet. In addition to hunger issues, your metabolism itself will be depressed by
potentially as much as 15%. In simple terms, virtually every hormonal system in your body is primed to
help you put back on the weight you just lost.
Traditionally, to help avoid this massive post-diet rebound, as it is called, many nutritional authorities
advise that you spend a few weeks at caloric maintenance before returning to a caloric surplus. This
allows time for important regulatory hormones such as thyroid and leptin to return to normal. Frankly, it
allows you some time to return to normal psychologically as well.
Reverse-dieting is just a form of returning to maintenance for a few weeks before transitioning into a
surplus. Instead of jumping straight to maintenance, the diet process is reversed. That is, you might
add 50-100kcal per week to your calorie range until youre at maintenance very similar to how you
took out 50-100kcal per week on the way down, but just in reverse.
Much of the recent controversy surrounds the length of the reverse-diet. As far as I can tell, there is
very little support in the literature for lengthy reverse diets. You can probably maximize all the hormonal
and psychological benefits of the reverse-diet process in 2-4 weeks. You most likely do not need a
lengthy period before returning to maintenance.
Why Does Anyone Recommend Long Reverse-Diets?
Lengthy reverse-diets are only occasionally recommended because some athletes cannot stand the
inevitable and necessary bodyweight and body fat rebound that accompanies the end of any diet. No
matter what you do, youre going to regain some fat after you end a diet. Youll never be as lean as you
were at the end of a diet while in a caloric surplus. Thats not how this works. That isnt the goal of the
reverse-diet.
The goal is to get you back to something resembling semi-normalcy both psychologically and hormonally
without you having massive binges post-diet. As I said, this really only takes a few weeks although you
may take quite a while before you feel normal again depending on the length of your diet.
My Reverse-Diet Protocol
When either transitioning out of a bulk or a cut, I prefer to reverse diet. The smaller changes on a
weekly basis are less invasive to your life style, easier to comply with because theyre so similar to what
youve already been doing, and, as discussed above, there may be some hormonal and p-ratio benefits
to allowing your body weight to stabilize before each transition.
In order to control the length of the reverse diet, and keep it reasonable, I simply take bigger jumps than
usual when heading the opposite direction. Ive previously recommended ~50-~100kcal changes to your
daily range, but, while reverse-dieting, Id recommend something more like ~200kcal changes. This
ensures that youre back to maintenance within 2-4 weeks of ending a diet and/or bulk.

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While cutting, this practice minimizes unnecessary fat gain while your hormonal levels are recovering
and, while bulking, this practice allows you to begin your diet with the absolute highest effective
amount of calories possible. In other words, the conservative, patient approach that reversing
represents improves dietary outcomes in my experience and in my opinion.

My Personal Caloric Adjustment Rules


While these numbers are not the end-all-be-all, nor are they hard and fast rules, here are the numbers
well employ for the EatingToWin system:

During A Cut:
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)

Lifter gained weight; subtract 200kcal from daily intake range (use this value for reversing!)
Lifter lost less than 0.5% body weight; subtract 100kcal from daily intake range
Lifter lost between 0.5%-0.6% body weight; subtract 50kcal from daily intake range
Lifter lost between 0.6%-0.8% body weight; keep daily intake range the same
Lifter lost between 0.8%-1.0% body weight; add 50kcal to daily intake range
Lifter lost more than 1.0% body weight; add 100kcal to daily intake range

During a Bulk:
1) Lifter lost more than 0.5% body weight; add 200kcal to daily intake range (use this value for
reversing!)
2) Lifter lost ~0.5%-~0.1% body weight; add 100kcal to daily intake range
3) Lifter lost less than ~0.1% body weight; add 50kcal to daily intake range
4) Lifter gained ~0.1-0.3% body weight; keep daily intake the same range
5) Lifter gained ~0.3-~0.5% body weight; subtract 50kcal from daily intake range
6) Lifter gained more than ~0.5% body weight; subtract 100kcal from daily intake range
Remember, as a powerlifter, food is fuel. Dont cost yourself progress in the gym because you were in
too big of a hurry to decrease or increase calories. With small adjustments, you can keep progressing
smoothly throughout your entire diet or bulk.

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Chapter 9: Macronutrition

Macros
Right below calories in our umbrella of importance is macronutrition. You see, unfortunately, calories
dont tell the entire story. Intuitively, we all know that 3000 calories of bread do not have the same
effect on the body as, say, 3000 calories of chicken breast.

Theres just something about steak. Amirite?


Photo: wisegeek.com

One of the reasons this is the case is that the food we eat are primarily composed of three
macronutrients: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Fiber is another quasi-macronutrient of importance
to us in powerlifting nutrition. Technically, it is a type of carbohydrate.
Well address each of these macronutrients one by one in order to better understand their importance
in powerlifting nutrition.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it is important to note that entire books can, and have, been
written on the subjects we are about to VERY briefly discuss. Nutrition is like a rabbit hole. In terms of
complexity, it can go just about as far and as deep as youre personally inclined to go. For our purposes,
were going to try to focus on the information that is of practical importance to powerlifting nutrition

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specifically. The amazing and varied complexity of the entire topic of protein is going to be left to
experts far more qualified than myself.

Protein
What it is actually important to know is that your body is completely reliant on dietary protein. That is,
even if you get enough calories, you will still die eventually if you dont consume any protein. Proteins
are the very building blocks of life. Dietary protein contributes to the maintenance, restoration, and
function of virtually every important organ in your body.
Typical dietary protein sources include chicken breast, tuna, eggs/egg whites, turkey breast, protein
powder, beef, fish, cottage cheese, and milk. Please keep in mind that many foods have multiple
macronutrients in them. Milk, for example, has protein, carbs, and fats in it. When we get to talking
about tracking macronutrients, remember that all of these should be accounted for and not just the
protein.

Meat is my favorite source of protein.


Photo: rivesqualitymeat.com

Back in the health and fitness world, you probably know that dietary protein is also necessary to help
build new muscle tissues. Not only is dietary protein necessary to help build new muscle tissues, but it is
also necessary to preserve what has already been built.

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Again this primer on protein could easily consume another one-hundred pages. Were not going to do
that. If you want to learn everything there is to know about protein, Id recommend Lyle McDonalds
protein book. For now, instead, lets focus on the key take-away here: you HAVE to eat protein both to
survive and to excel as a powerlifter.

Protein Needs

Protein needs vary significantly between populations. In the United States, the FDA recommendations
for daily protein intake are 60-80g depending on gender. Now, this may be appropriate for your average
sedentary individual, but this number grossly underestimates the optimal amount of protein for the
average powerlifter.
The traditional way to prescribe protein needs is based on body weight. A recent research review
conducted in part by Dr. Eric Helms, who is both a PhD and an actively competing bodybuilder and
powerlifter, would suggest that appropriate daily levels also depend on whether or not an individual is
currently in a caloric surplus or a caloric deficit. In a surplus, slightly less protein is needed: ~0.8g-1.0g/lb
or ~1.8-2.2g/kg. In a caloric deficit more protein is required to maintain muscle mass: ~1.1-1.4g/lbs or
~2.3g-3.1g/kg.
However, research done by Dr. Layne Norton, and several others, has recently indicated that muscle
protein synthesis, specifically, is optimized on a per-feeding basis. That is, beyond a certain limit, dietary
protein consumed in one sitting does not contribute to further muscle protein synthesis. This is not to
say that the protein isnt used by the body at all, but merely that it isnt used for further muscle building.
This research indicates that muscle protein synthesis may be optimized by consuming ~3-5g of Leucine
every ~4-6 hours. Leucine is an amino acid which is a constituent of most proteins. The gist of the
research is that the body does not become fully re-sensitized to amino acids in the blood stream for the
aforementioned ~4-6 hour period because levels remain elevated until that time. If more protein is
consumed before this sensitivity is regained, you receive a muted response in terms of maximally
stimulating further muscle protein synthesis. In short, you dont build as much muscle.

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Photo: simplyshredded.com

While some in the fitness community debate the strength of the research supporting these findings, Ive
personally found adopting Dr. Nortons suggested practices as measurably effective both in terms of my
strength and the overall amount of muscle I am able to carry at any given time. As such, I will echo his
recommendations. If you personally disagree, protein needs can be determined using the traditional
body weight metrics.
In simple terms, getting enough protein for powerlifting means eating ~4-6 meals per day that contain
30-50g of protein because this is approximately how much it takes to get 3-5g of Leucine per meal. If
youre towards the smaller side, youll need less leucine to elicit the optimal response. If youre bigger,
youll need more. Regardless, this all adds up to approximately 120g-300g of protein per day.
Personally, Id recommend shooting for 5 meals per day of 30-50g of protein. Use your bodyweight as a
rough guide to help you determine the total amount that youll split between the meals. For example, a
200lbs male might consume a total of 200g of protein consisting of five 40g meals. A 150lbs female
might consume 150g of protein consisting of five 30g meals.
As you can see, when you get down to putting this into practice, it isnt too terribly difficult.

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Fat
Much like protein, dietary fat is essential for life. Dietary fat contains essential fatty acids (EFAs) that
the body simply cannot synthesize on its own. A certain amount of dietary fat is also needed to optimize
your hormonal milieu, joint health, brain function, and a whole host of other bodily functions. In short,
you cannot go without fat. And, really, who would want to? Fat is one of the reasons most of our
favorite foods taste so good.
Typical dietary fat sources include nuts, butter, cooking oil, avocado, and chocolate. Many cuts of meat
also have generous portions of fat.

Nuts are a very common source of fats.


Photo: huffingtonpost.com

In short, we need fat to survive, keep our health in check, and to keep ourselves sane when dieting.

Fat Needs

Unlike protein, fat needs are a bit harder to pinpoint in terms of grams consumed. Your primary goals
with fat intake are making sure you meet your needs for EFAs, keeping fat above reasonable minimums
for health purposes, and ensuring youre actually able to comply with your diet plan. An ultra-low fat
diet tends to be a diet that we cannot adhere to in the long term.
In general, for most powerlifting populations, an appropriate level of fat is going to be anywhere from
15-30% of total caloric intake. The reason for the wide range in potential levels of fat intake has entirely
to do with circumstances. However, as a reasonable minimum, ~0.3g/lbs or ~0.6g/kg is as low as youre
going to be able to push things without experiencing long term issues related to under-consumption of
fat.
When a powerlifter is dieting, and trying to lose weight, it is important to keep carbohydrate levels high
enough that hard training can be sustained. In order to keep carbohydrate levels up, even while calories

55
levels are declining, it can be useful to use the lower end of the fat range when calculating how many
grams to eat. This is really a matter of asset allocation: you reallocate some calories to carbs and, in
order to do so, you have to take away from fat. You cant change protein because your protein needs
are based on maintaining your hard earned muscle mass.
For lifters who are not dieting, it makes sense to use a higher level of fat intake. It just simply isnt
necessary to use lower fat levels because youll have enough calories to work with that your
carbohydrate levels will be high regardless.
If youre an older athlete, or someone who just doesnt respond well to carbohydrates, consider the
higher levels of fat in the above range. As in everything, there is room for individuality. Remember, as
Ive repeatedly said, nutrition is a very deep and complex topic. These are general guidelines for large
populations of powerlifters. You, however, are a specific individual. While the chances are that you are
one of the many for whom these general guidelines work very well for, there is the off chance that youd
be better served with something very different. This is where coaching can come into play to help you
optimize your training and nutrition.
In general, for the vast majority of circumstances, youre going to want about 20-25% of your total
caloric intake to come from fat. And, again, as a reasonable minimum do not drop things below ~0.3g/lb
or ~0.6g/kg for a lengthy period of time (or possibly at all).

Carbohydrates
I guess we finally get to talk about carbohydrates and glycogen, eh? Woohoo!
Of the macronutrients weve discussed thus far, carbohydrates are the only one that is technically
unnecessary for survival. Even without dietary carbohydrates, you can survive. While glucose is
typically used to fuel brain function, and glucose requires glycogen which requires dietary carbohydrate
intake, the body is capable of producing an alternative fuel called ketone bodies through the process
of ketosis.
You see, when you dont eat carbs, and you only consume fats and proteins, your body enters the
aforementioned state of ketosis. In an incredibly oversimplified generalization, ketosis is essentially a
process by which your body begins to use fat as its main fuel source for everything (through ketone
bodies). Many people have successfully used keto diets in order to accelerate their fat loss efforts.
There is even some research to suggest that being in ketosis may have performance benefits for
endurance athletes.
However, as powerlifters, keto diets are not favorable, in my opinion, for a variety of reasons. Keep in
mind that, again, were keeping this as simple as possible. If you want the in-depth discussion on keto,
the man to go to is Lyle McDonald who literally wrote the book on the subject.
High intensity, anaerobic exercise, such as lifting heavy ass weights, is primarily fueled by ATP
(adrenosine triphosphate). ATP is created through a variety of cellular processes not all of which require
the use of glycogen. With that said, as you begin to deplete your initial ATP stores, the body begins to
preferentially break down glycogen in order to synthesize new ATP for further efforts. If youre eating a

56
low-carb diet, this just doesnt happen because you have little or no glycogen stored in the muscles to
fuel the process. While you may not notice a decrease in performance in your initial sets, your ability to
sustain a high workload will generally suffer quite noticeably. If you cannot train as hard or as long, you
cannot become as strong and you will not be able to maintain as much of your previously earned
strength or muscle mass.
Additionally, there is some evidence to suggest, albeit statistically insignificant, that consuming
carbohydrates with protein slightly enhances the total muscle protein synthesis stimulated by that
particular feeding.
As such, carbohydrates, in my eyes, are both critical to performance enhancement in terms of sustaining
and increasing your workload and weight management in terms of maximizing the amount of muscle
you gain or keep while dieting.

Carbohydrate Needs

It is important to remember the primary purpose that carbohydrates serve in powerlifting nutrition: fuel
hard training. Now, if you were so inclined, you could probably determine, with semi-reasonable
accuracy, approximately how much glycogen your training was consuming. From there, you could plot
out exactly how many carbs you needed, how much protein you needed, and then you could allocate
the rest of your calories towards fat. Youve probably already noticed that isnt the approach Ive
advocated in this book and there are several reasons why.
First of all, if youve read ProgrammingToWin, you know that I STRONGLY endorse an autoregulated
training style. With an autoregulated training style, I never know exactly how much work Im going to do
in a given session. Additionally, Im constantly striving to push myself to do more work and harder work
than Ive ever done before. In other words, there is variance in how much glycogen I go through in any
given training session. Further, I typically train six days per week.
Rather than trying to approximate exactly how many carbohydrates I need to properly fuel my training, I
prefer to set my protein intake, then set my fat intake as a percentage of my total caloric intake, and I
allocate literally everything else to carbohydrate intake. Using this method, my carbohydrate intake is as
high as it can possibly get. Whether I am dieting or gaining weight, because my carbs are kept high,
Im likely to have enough glycogen in the tank to perform long, hard training sessions. Because of this
type of allocation of macronutrients, many of my athletes, including myself, have actually experienced
strength gains while dieting. Because we have a plethora of carbohydrates in our diet, we have enough
energy to occasionally set volume and workload personal records even while in a caloric deficit. If you
set volume personal records, rep and max records arent too far around the corner.
Again, lets remember all the benefits of a full glycogen tank:
1) Water is required to store glycogen in the muscles. This added size improves your leverages
under the bar.
2) When your glycogen tank is full, you have all the resources you need to produce ATP and survive
long, hard, grueling workouts without hitting a wall.
3) Dietary carbohydrates may increase muscle protein synthesis when consumed at the same time
as dietary protein.

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For all these reasons, in terms of carbohydrate needs, I recommend using all of the calories you have left
after accounting for protein and fat needs.

Fiber

Technically speaking, fiber is a type of carbohydrate. Essentially though, fiber is the indigestible material
that is found in plants, fruits, whole grains, and a variety of other foods. The substance of fiber is such
that it resists our natural digestive enzymes. While we can glean some energy from the processing of
dietary fiber, for the most part, fibers real job is to act as natures broom. This undigested material
pushing through our digestive system helps us clean out. Hey man, in the end, fiber makes it easier to
poop.
In all seriousness, a certain level of fiber is necessary for gut health. With that said, you can definitely
take it too far. Consuming TOO much fiber can potentially blunt nutrient absorption and actually impede
proper bowel movements.
To keep food quality high in your diet, and to keep your gut in check, Id recommend keeping your fiber
intake between 10-20% of your total carbohydrate intake. That is, for every ~100g of carbs you
consume, try not to eat less than 10g of fiber and try not to eat more than 20g. This general rule of
thumb will serve you well in 99% of situations. Keep in mind that this recommendation is not additional
fiber on top of your carbohydrate intake but rather this fiber recommendation is made as a percentage
of whatever your total carbohydrate intake already is.

The Relative Importance of Energy Balance and Macronutrition


Before we move on to the next chapters, I want to expound upon the relative importance of what weve
covered thus far. Perhaps the single most important objective I had when I decided to offer a basic
primer on nutrition in these earlier chapters was to help you clarify what matters most when designing a
nutritional protocol for powerlifting.
With that in mind, please pay attention to what Im about to say next: getting your caloric intake and
macronutrition handled correctly is responsible for at least 80% of your progress nutritionally speaking.
To reiterate and state it differently, once youve got the correct caloric intake and macronutrient
breakdown in your diet, you can only make marginal improvements to your nutrition protocol through
virtually any other means.
I dont know how else I can put this other than to say that, relative to macronutrition and energy
balance, supplements, meal frequency, nutrient timing, and food quality just arent that important. They
just arent. While 99% of diets differentiate themselves using the four aforementioned properties and
qualities, realistically, they are the factors least responsible for your nutritional success or failure.
Dont forget your calories. Dont forget your macros. Everything else matters a lot less.

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Chapter 10: Meal Frequency

Meal Frequency
Now, with all that said, there is some evidence to suggest that you might be able to slightly improve
your nutritional protocol by manipulating both your meal frequency and nutrient timing.
Much has been made of meal frequency recently in the fitness community. Intermittent fasting has
become a popular eating schedule. For the unfamiliar, intermittent fasting typically involves abstaining
from food for 16 hours and then eating all of your calories within an 8 hour window.
The bro style of bodybuilding eating which called for eating every 2-3 hours on the clock fell under
attack around the same time. However, many traditional bodybuilders steadfastly swear by this
nutritional protocol.
In reality, it most likely doesnt matter much. While there appear to be distinct benefits to intermittent
fasting, particularly with regards to fat loss, I personally recommend a protocol much closer to the bro
style of eating.

This is Martin Berkhan the author of LeanGains the website which really popularized IF several years ago.
Photo: LeanGains.com

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Maximizing Muscle Protein Synthesis

Why? Well, weve already discussed why, actually. The current consensus amongst most credentialed
nutrition authorities in the fitness community appears to be that muscle protein synthesis can likely be
maximized by consuming ~3-5g of Leucine every 4-6 hours. In other words, to maximize how much
muscle you build, you should likely be eating a meal with ~30-50g of protein 4-6 times per day.
If you use intermittent fasting, you simply cannot do this. Again, if intermittent fasting works better for
your lifestyle, great. Continue using it. Compliance is perhaps more important than what is theoretically
optimal. However, for the purposes of this book, Id be remiss if I didnt recommend the strategy that is
theoretically more optimal: eat more frequently to maximize MPS.

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition

Outside of maximizing muscle protein synthesis, there is an abundance of research demonstrating that
consuming a meal containing carbohydrates and protein both prior to and upon completion of a high
volume resistance training workout is beneficial both in terms of performance and muscle protein
maintenance. In other words, even if you use an eating schedule similar to Intermittent Fasting, it
behooves you to eat a pre and post workout meal.

Meal Frequency Recommendations


When combining the research on maximizing muscle protein synthesis and existing literature on pre and
post workout feedings, you should likely be eating 3-6 meals per day spaced 4-6 hours apart.

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Chapter 11: Nutrient Timing

Nutrient timing and meal frequency are closely related. For example, technically speaking, timing your
protein doses is both an aspect of meal frequency and nutrient timing. Consuming a pre and post
workout meal is both an aspect of meal frequency and nutrient timing. With that said, Id like to offer
further insight into the aspects of nutrient timing that may be relevant to powerlifting performance.

Carbohydrate Timing
Of all the macronutrients, carbohydrates probably offer the most opportunity for manipulation in terms
of nutrient timing. In fact, there are sensible ways to manipulate carbohydrate intake both within a
given training week and each given day.

Daily Carbohydrate Timing

Most of the recommendations for carbohydrate manipulation involve timing your intake around
workouts. This recommendation is centered upon the fact that peri-workout carbohydrate consumption
can often boost performance. Eating carbohydrates pre-workout tops off your glycogen stores and can
delay time to fatigue for a weightlifter. Similarly, consuming carbohydrates post workout can help
replenish glycogen stores more quickly. While it is not necessarily of great importance to replenish
glycogen quickly if you train only once per day, this may be a consideration nonetheless.
The second reason carbohydrate timing is often suggested around workouts has to do with the fact that
youre more likely to partition nutrients favorably during this window. If you have an immediate need
for glycogen, such as fueling the creation of new ATP or replenishing diminished muscle stores, the
glycogen you consume is much less likely to be stored as fat. Additionally, glycogen synthesis is most
effective post-workout. In other words, there may be a body composition benefit to consuming a large
portion of your carbs in the peri-workout window.
Exactly how much of your carbohydrate intake should come in the peri-workout window? Personally, I
recommend consuming ~50-60% of your carbs in this period. I typically aim for ~20-30% in the preworkout meal and ~25%-35% in the post workout meal. Keep in mind that, for athletes training once
per day, there may not be any tangible body composition benefit to such carbohydrate timing. In
practice, Ive seen better results with this protocol, but I want to be clear what the basis of my
recommendation is.

Weekly Carbohydrate Timing

The basis for weekly carbohydrate timing, also known as carb cycling, is very similar to that of daily
carbohydrate timing. Those who advocate carb timing believe that you will receive favorable nutrient
partitioning if carbohydrate consumption is limited to times when it is needed most. Others simply
believe that carbohydrates serve no other purpose than to refill glycogen. As such, they tend to
recommend higher carbohydrate intakes on workout days versus off days.

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While I am skeptical that this practice provides any meaningful return in terms of body composition, I do
recommend an element of weekly carbohydrate cycling for those in a caloric deficit. I make this
recommendation primarily for psychological reasons. Having one or two days per week where your
carbohydrate and overall caloric intake are higher can massively boost compliance to a tough dietary
protocol. This practice is called refeeding or having a refeed day. Refeeds help because you know
that youre never more than a few days away from a more normal day of eating. Compliance is more
than half the battle in terms of achieving your nutritional goals.

Who doesnt love the occasional cake, cookies, and ice cream!? Refeeds can help you fit some of these types of foods into
your diet without cheating.

Now, dont me wrong, there is also a physiological basis for my recommendations. Outside of the
possible nutrient partitioning benefits, which I remain skeptical of, having periodic refeeds, where
overall caloric intake and carbohydrate intake are temporarily spiked, can help transiently increase
hormonal markers such as leptin and thyroid. While support in the literature probably isnt there,
countless bodybuilders and iron athletes can attest to the fact that having periodic refeeds keeps them
from stalling out on their diets for much, much longer than when theyve tried dieting without refeeds.
Ive personally found them invaluable while dieting down.

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Of course, additionally, if youre deep into a diet, your carbohydrates are likely to be quite low overall.
When this happens, training begins to suffer. By timing your refeeds, or higher carb days, with your
toughest workouts you can provide yourself with a temporary performance spike due to the larger
amount of glycogen in your system. This can be of critical importance once you start getting down
towards the end of your diet where progress starts to become dicey. And because the refeed days are
still happening within the context of a diet, youll still lose weight at the end of the week.

Setting Up High Carb Days


Lets talk about the practice of actually setting up a high carb day. Remember, we want a day that is
both higher calories than normal and more carbs than normal. In order to achieve this in practice, were
going to lower protein, low fat, and increase carbs beyond where they normally are.
Lets say you are a male who weighs 200lbs and are currently aiming for a caloric deficit. Lets set-up the
theoretical diet:
1) Youd look back to Chapter 8 and see that 12x body weight is a decent starting point for a cut: 200*12
= 2400 calories.
2) Youd then set your protein needs. For overall protein needs, we can see that we need approximately
~1.1-1.4g/lb: 200*1.1 = 220g of protein. Because we dont want to go insane, or be unrealistic, were
going to convert this to a range of 210-230g or 220g +/- 5g.
Keep in mind that there are 4 calories per gram of protein. In other words, 880 of our calories are
coming from protein.
3) Next, were going to calculate fat. Because this is a deficit, and we want to keep carbs high, we might
use the lower end of the fat recommendations and go with 20%. 2400*.2 = 480 calories. There are 9
calories in each gram of fat: 480/9 = ~53g of fat. As above, were going to convert fat into a range of 4858g or 53g +/- 5g.
4) Finally, youre going to calculate your carbohydrate needs by allocating everything that is left. In order
to do this, we have to subtract our calories from protein and fat from our total overall caloric intake:
2400-480-880= 1040 calories. There are 4 calories per gram of carb: 1040/4 = 260 carbs. Our final carb
range is thus 255-265g or 260g +/- 5g.
5) Okay, at this point, weve got our baseline diet: 2400kcal, 220g protein, 53g fat, and 260g of carbs all
plus or minus 5g. Coincidentally, this is how we get our calorie range as well.
6) For our high carb days, were going to increase carbs by ~50% from normal: 260*1.5=390g of carbs +/5g.
7) Were going to lower our protein down to the needs of someone closer to maintenance because our
calories will be higher on this day anyways: 200lbs*1.0g/lbs= 200g of protein +/- 5g.
8) Were also going to lower the fat that we use for this day down ~2.5%: (2400*.175)/9=~47g of fat +/5g.

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9) Heres our freshly calculated high carb day: 200g protein, 390g carbs, 47g fat, ~2780 calories all +/- 5g.
Youre going to have to keep in mind that, because these days are higher calorie, they also impact your
weekly caloric total. Youll have to adjust for this in calculating your average weekly calories. Keep in
mind that I have provided a spreadsheet which sets up all of this for you automatically.
As far as placement and frequency, again, I recommend two of these per week placed on your most
difficult training days. Lets say you train Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat. Id recommend placing the two high carb
days on Monday and Friday. If you train on Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri, Id recommend placing the two high carb
days on Mon/Thu. This way, you get the direct performance benefit on Monday and Thursday, but your
glycogen stores are also still transiently higher for the workout the following days on Tuesday and
Friday. In fact, this is EXACTLY how I set peoples programs up when theyre running PIP2 or higher from
ProgrammingToWin.

Summary: EatingToWin High Carb Days


In sum, heres the recommendations Im making for the EatingToWin System:
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)

Two high carb days per week


Carbs should be ~50% higher than on normal days
Decrease protein down to ~1g/lbs or ~2.2g/kg
Decrease fat ~2.5% from normal days
Time the high carb days with your hardest workouts of the week

Keep in mind that there are many other reasonable ways to include high carb days. You can only do one
per week if you want. This will keep your normal days both higher carb and higher calorie. However, if
you choose to do it the way Ive presented here, just keep in mind that the spreadsheet will then be able
to calculate all of it for you automatically AND youll be able to use this exact strategy with the PTW
programs. In fact, this strategy was explicitly developed for use in conjunction with PTW programs.

Fat Timing
Fat timing isnt nearly as exciting as carbohydrate timing. In fact, I honestly dont even have much to say
here. The one nutrient partitioning recommendation that I can make, in terms of fat, is to limit fat in the
peri-workout window.
The reason Im recommending limiting fat in the peri-workout window has to do with the fact that fat
tends to greatly slow down digestion and absorption rates. If youre following the EatingToWin system,
youre likely consuming a massive amount of carbohydrates both pre and post workout. What we dont
want is for the absorption of those carbs and proteins to be slowed down. That somewhat defeats the
purpose of centering them around the workout in the first place.
Additionally, there may be a potential nutrient partitioning benefit to limiting fat in the peri-workout
window. Working out itself improves both insulin sensitivity and increases muscle protein synthesis. If

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youre consuming a large amount of fat, at the time when insulin is being peaked by your huge
carbohydrate meals, you may end up having that dietary fat very efficiently shuttled off to fat storage.
After all, that is essentially insulins job: it is an anabolic transport hormone. In any case, this may or may
not matter, but it bears mentioning as a potential nutrient partitioning benefit.
As a practical recommendation, limit fat intake in the peri-workout window to less than 10g per meal.

Protein Timing
At this point, weve already gone over protein timing. Remember, to maximize MPS, you have two main
concerns: 1) ensure youre getting protein in your pre and post workout meal and 2) eat ~30-50g of
protein every ~4-6 hours.
See the Protein section of Chapter 9 for more detailed discussion on this subject.

The Relative Importance of Nutrient Timing and Meal Frequency


A tendency that most of seem to have is to give undue importance to details when it comes to nutrition.
Make no mistake about it If you violated every single recommendation that I just made above, but you
still hit your caloric intake goals and got your macros right, youd make excellent progress. If you
mastered every recommendation that I just mentioned above, but you didnt get your caloric intake or
macronutrient distribution correct, you might make reverse progress towards your goals.
My main point here is that you should never put a nutrient timing or meal frequency concern ahead of
your macros and your overall caloric intake. Those are still the predominant factors here. Id rather you
skip a meal and hit your macros than hit your meals and skip your macros. Dont miss the big picture.
No one is going to be perfect every day. 90%+ of your results still come down to just eating the right
amount of food and the right amount of protein, carbs, and fats.

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Chapter 12: Micronutrition

Does Eating Healthy Matter?


Micronutrition tends to be another one of those facets of nutrition that authors use to differentiate
their products from other solutions in the marketplace. However, ultimately, unless taken to absolute
extremes, micronutrition tends to just take care of itself.
Ill make practical recommendations in a bit, but first I want to discuss the idea of healthy, clean, or
paleo foods. First of all, there is no standard clinical definition for any of these terms. And, when you
press proponents of the aforementioned buzzword diets to actually define the terms, they frequently
produce contradictory definitions that lose any significant meaning. Clinically speaking, there is no such
thing as a bad food and a good food; there are only good and bad diets.

Are you Paleo, brah?


Photo: evolvepaleochef.com

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Look, I am in favor of high quality foods. I am not suggesting that you go out and eat a diet completely
devoid of all fruits, vegetables, and other micronutrient dense calorie sources. The point here is more so
that if youre eating multiple servings of vegetables per day, if youre eating a few pieces of fruit, and if
youre generally eating a wide variety of foods throughout the week, your micronutrition is likely already
excellent. Having the occasional ice cream or cookie is completely irrelevant in the context of a diet that
is already plenty rich in micronutrients.
My main point here is that there is absolutely ZERO strong clinical research to suggest that, for example,
eating a 100% organic diet has any measurable impact on performance in the gym or body composition.
There is absolutely zero clinical evidence that food quality makes a statistically significant difference in
performance or body composition in general.
Subjectively, Ive personally noticed better mood and energy when making an effort to eat healthier
and, as such, Im biased towards high food quality. Id recommend you try to include the highest
possible quality of foods that you can. At the same time, you need to realize this probably makes a very,
very small contribution to your overall performance in the gym if makes a contribution at all.
If youre basing your nutritional selections solely on the idea that only certain foods are good, you
likely need to stop. More often than not, this type of neurotic behavior leads to a poor relationship with
food that has a decent chance of one day developing into a full blown disorder. Keep everything in
perspective. Choose foods rich in micronutrients the majority of the time, but allow yourself some
flexibility in your diet.

Practical Micronutrition Recommendations


While your energy balance and macronutrition is of utmost importance, you cannot afford to completely
neglect micronutrition, either. A deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals can manifest in legitimate
disease and sickness. On a lower level, you will negatively impact your sleeping patterns, mood, and
overall energy levels if you arent getting enough vitamins and minerals.

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The Food and Drug Administrations Recommended Daily Intake of various vitamins and minerals (USA).
Photo: Wikipedia.org

As such, Id simply recommend making sure that you get at least one serving of fruits AND vegetables
per 1,000 calories in your diet. Remember, you need a certain amount of fiber anyways. Ensuring that
youre eating ~2-3 servings of vegetables per day and ~1-2 servings of fruit will go a long ways towards
ensuring your micronutrition isnt out of line.
The last recommendation Ill make, which isnt so much of a recommendation as it is a note of caution,
do not fall into the trap of eating the same exact foods every single day. When working with clients, I see
this type of behavior all the time. Perhaps due to convenience or ease, athletes often fall into the trap of

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eating the exact same foods every single day and only adjusting the quantities as their macro
prescriptions change over time.
Dont do this long term. I understand that when youre in the midst of a hardcore diet, this is
convenient, but when the calories come back up, and the macros are less scarce, please return to seminormal eating behaviors.
Lack of variety in food intake is both psychologically unhealthy and one possible way to mess up your
micronutrition. Youll run the risk of simply not getting the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, or,
perhaps more likely, youll get too much of the same ones.

Relative Importance of Micronutrition


In one sense, micronutrition is of ultimate importance. If you dont get enough of certain vitamins, you
run the risk of developing certain deadly diseases. On the other hand, if youre not going out of your way
to eat a ridiculous diet consisting of nothing other than sugar, protein powder, and butter, youre likely
not going to deal with serious micronutrition issues. Please dont let anyone convince you that you need
to eat certain good foods to be successful. This is complete bullshit. At the very most, food quality
MIGHT have a long term impact, but we see no strong evidence of this in the current literature.
Overall, just make sure you eat a decent amount of fruits and veggies. Eat a varied diet with lots of
different colors and flavors. Youll be just fine.
Concentrate on your energy balance and your macronutition because these are the factors that really
control your nutritional destiny.

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Chapter 13: Supplementation

Do Supplements Matter?
Contrary to popular opinion, supplements are easily the least important factor in maximizing your
nutrition. Why? Because supplements can only supplement another part of the nutritional hierarchy.
For example, multivitamin or fish oil pills might help improve the micronutrition aspect of nutrition. A
protein supplement, such as whey protein powder or protein bars, might help you reach your
macronutrient goals. Creatine supplementation can be useful because it is hard to eat all the raw meat
necessary to top off your stores naturally. Look, you get the picture. Supplements supplement. Theyre
not critical by any stretch of the imagination!

Whats your stack, brah!?

With that said, I feel like lately there has been an anti-supplement trend that is a bit misguided. Frankly,
it is true that there are VERY few supplements with STRONG support in the literature. Because most
honest people out there want to prevent you from wasting your hard earned money on supplements
that might work, they just dont mention them at all.
However, as you might have gathered from the rest of this book, or even the rest of my writings, I am all
about using any fair and legal means necessary to gain an edge. While I will explicitly delineate between

70
supplements with strong support and supplements with weak support, I will be presenting more
potential options here than the stereotypical advice of: Lift heavy, take a multi, bro.
Before we move on, Id like to give a shout out to what I believe is the single best supplement review
service on the internet today: Examine.com. Examine offers research-based, critical reviews not only
detailing which supplements have support in the literature, but also to what degree the literature
supports each supplement. If youre going to do your own research on supplements, Examine is the
place to start.

Supplements with Strong Support


1) Whey Protein

What: Whey protein is a component of milk protein. It has a high concentration of leucine and is
perhaps the single most bioavailable form of protein. Translation? Whey is a great way to
supplement your diet with additional protein if you find yourself lacking.
Why: While there is no real need for whey protein, I supplement my diet with it quite
frequently. Frankly, when youre trying to hit ~1.0g-~1.4g of protein per day, you can often fall a
little short. A whey supplement allows you to boost your totals easily without drastically driving
up your carb and fat intake. Basically, whey just makes it easier to hit your macros. Even though
this is its only purpose, I still consider it perhaps the most useful supplement on the entire
market. Because, as you should know by now, hitting your macros is more important than the
supplements you take in the first place.
How: There is really no need to take more than ~1-1.5 scoops of most whey protein
supplements. After all, getting more than ~3-5g of Leucine in a single serving doesnt do
anything to increase muscle protein synthesis. Youll need to mix the whey with some kind of
liquid. Id recommend water or milk. Cycling on and off is unnecessary.
When: Whey is a meal replacement so youd use it at meal time either alone or in combination
with food.
Recommendation: While it is perhaps not the cheapest, my favorite low carb, low fat, great
tasting whey protein powder award goes to Pure Chocolate from Syntrax Matrix 5.0. The best
protein bars? Quest Bars and it isnt even close.

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2) Caffeine

What: Caffeine is a natural stimulant derived from coffee beans.


Why: The bottom line is that caffeine reliably increases performance in athletes who havent
developed a tolerance. There are positive effects seen nearly across the board including fat loss,
endurance, and peak power output.
How: For strength enhancement, take ~5mg/kg or ~2.5mg/lbs. It doesnt matter whether you
take it in pill, powder, or liquid form. Because tolerance will eventually be developed, if you use
caffeine as an ergogenic aid, consider taking a month off when you no longer feel strong effects
from caffeine consumption.
When: Experiment individually, but youll want to take your caffeine within 30 minutes of
beginning your workout. Personally, I dont finish mine until Im done with warm-ups.
Note: There are genetic variations in the ability to metabolize caffeine. Not all doses will affect
everyone equally. To avoid any harsh side effects, start small with your dosing and build up as
necessary. Some people with sleep issues would be best advised to avoid caffeine in my opinion.
Even small doses can exacerbate insomnia issues in some individuals.
Recommendation: Cheapest you can get in bulk.

3) Creatine

What: Creatine is a molecule that is used to help create ATP quickly. Supplemental creatine
allows you to maximize your muscular stores thus resulting in an improved ability to generate
ATP. Over time, this leads to increased work capacity, power output, and lean body mass.
Why: The benefits of creatine are primarily indirect. Because youll be able to generate ATP
more quickly, over time, youll be able to do more reps per set and more sets per workout. This
will lead to increased strength and muscle mass over time.
How: Take 5g daily. Cycling on and off is unnecessary.
When: Doesnt matter. Creatine builds up in the system over time.
Recommendation: Buy the cheapest creatine monohydrate you can find in bulk. I use Bulk
Supplements.

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4) Beta-Alanine

What: Beta-alanine is one of the essential building blocks of muscle carnosine. Carnosine acts as
a celluar buffer to acid in the muscles. When you lift, ATP is broken down and lactic acid is
released. Carnosine combats the acidic effects of the aforementioned byproducts thus delaying
time to fatigue.
Why: If you perform any sets that take ~60+ seconds (~8+ reps), or if youre using the GPP/HIIT
protocols from ProgrammingToWin, Beta-Alanine is going to help increase performance or you
might be able to squeeze out another rep and/or perhaps last a few more sets.
How: Take 6g daily split up into 2-3 doses. I typically take 3g in my pre and post workout shakes.
Cycling is unnecessary.
When: Doesnt matter. Beta-Alanine helps build up carnosine over time.
Recommendation: Buy the cheapest Beta-Alanine you can find in bulk. I use Hard Rhino.

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5) Vitamin D

What: Vitamin D is one of the many essential vitamins and nutrients that we need. Sunlight is
typically the primary source of Vitamin D. For those living in areas without a lot of sunlight, you
can potentially benefit greatly from Vitamin D supplementation.
Why: Vitamin D supplementation, particularly for those who are deficient, has been shown to
improve mood, memory, cognitive function, and testosterone levels. As a lifter, having your
hormones function optimally is going to be of great importance to maximizing your progress in
the gym.
How: Supplement with Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). You should be taking anywhere from
~1,000iu-~5,000iu per day based on your particular demographics and exposure to sunlight.
Overdosing is possible, but nearly impossible at doses under 10,000iu per day. Take it alongside
a fat source. Consult with your general care provider for recommendations more specific to your
situation. Cycling is unnecessary.
Recommendation: Take Vitamin D3 in liquid form or capsule form from the cheapest provider
you can find. I use Kirkland Brand.

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6) EPA/DHA (Fish Oil)

What: EPA/DHA supplementation involves trying to balance your omega 3:6 fat ratios. The
typical diet, particularly in the West, is too high in Omega 6s. Supplementing with fish oil, a great
source of Omega 3s, can help bring your balance closer to the recommended 1:1 amount.
Why: For those who do not consume enough fish, or who simply eat too much Omega 6 fatty
acids, consuming fish oil can have a long list of general health benefits including: joint health,
mood, and improved brain function. Improvements in general health can indirectly benefit the
competitive lifter over time.
How: While some people fall into the trap of more is better with fish oil, consuming more
than 1-2 of EPA+DHA (total) is likely unnecessary for those seeking the general health benefits.
Cycling is unnecessary.
When: Doesnt matter. The benefits are long term due to the aforementioned improved ratios.
Recommendation: Find the cheapest brand possible. I use Kirkland Brand.

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7) Melatonin

What: Melatonin is a non-addictive sleep aid that helps regulate your sleep patterns. If you
struggle with falling asleep or getting a good quality of sleep, Melatonin may indirectly benefit
you. Many people have irregular sleep habits due to the way our society is structured.
Melatonin production is very sensitive to light and many of us are often exposed to light all day
long even before were trying to sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep quickly or deeply, or an
irregular schedule, melatonin supplementation can help you get a better quality of sleep. If you
already have excellent sleep hygiene, it likely wont do much for you.
Why: Quality and quantity of sleep is probably the number one determinant of your overall
ability to recover from hard training. Sleep should be sacred to you as a lifter. If youre not
already familiar with sleep hygiene, you should be. Ultimately, melatonin is somewhat of a
band-aide to help you with missteps in sleep hygiene. Regardless, anything you can do to
improve your quality of sleep is well worth it in my opinion.
How: Melatonin is often available in pill form or as a chewable tablet. Dosing is individual, but
the recommended range is between 500mcg and 5mg. Start lower and work your way up.
Cycling is unnecessary.
When: Take Melatonin ~30 minutes before attempting to sleep.
Recommendation: Buy a cheap generic brand. NOW Foods has a great option on Amazon.

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8) Multivitamin (conditional!)

What: Multivitamin is a generic, catch-all term for any supplements that contains a variety of
the essential daily vitamins and minerals. Particular products can vary significantly.
Why: You should really only consider a multivitamin if youre in a heavy caloric deficit that
doesnt allow for a great variety of foods (or a lot of food in general). For the vast majority of
people, a multivitamin is actually unnecessary. If youre eating a well-balanced diet, youre
already getting the micronutrients you need.
How: Most multivitamins involve taking 1-2 pills per day. Cycling is unnecessary.
When: Usually, multivitamins are taken with food.
Recommendation: A generic brand will work just fine. Dont overpay for something that is likely
unnecessary in the first place. I use Kirkland Brand.

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Supplements with Weaker Support


1) BCAAs

What: Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) generally refers to the combination of Leucine,
Isoleucine, and Valine. These are free form amino acids that do not get metabolized or used by
the small intestine, liver, or kidney to any appreciable degree due to lack of the appropriate
enzymes in these tissues.
Why: According to research done by Dr. Norton, and quoting from my buddy Dr. Jordan
Feigenbaum, [BCAAs] spike blood amino acid levels sky high very shortly after oral ingestion
and work almost exclusively at the level of skeletal muscle to stimulate muscle protein synthesis
without interfering with the refractory period. What does that mean? Well, theoretically, it
means that BCAAs can get into your system, stimulate muscle protein synthesis, and still clear
the system before youre ready for that next dose of dietary protein. In other words, you can
potentially build more muscle while youre waiting those ~4-6 hours in-between meals.
How: Mix the BCAA powder into water and drink it. Cycling is unnecessary.
When:
Pre/Post Workout: ~10g of BCAAs
In-Between Meals: ~5g of BCAAs
Note: This is going to be controversial, but I think BCAAs are just as important to my supplement
stack as more established aids such as creatine and beta-alaine. I firmly believe that BCAAs have
made a measurable difference to my overall recovery ability and the amount of muscle I can
hold on my frame. My training logs confirm this. While Dr. Nortons research is heavily criticized
primarily because it is in rodents, the underlying physiological mechanisms for why this would
work are sound in my opinion. Read more of Nortons take here. Youll have to make your
decisions, but I strongly recommend BCAAs to all my athletes and Im not going to back down
from that recommendation here.
Recommendation: I highly recommend Scivation Xtend. It tastes amazing and the ratios are all
correct.

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2) HMB

What: HMB (-Hydroxy -Methylbutyrate) is a component of Leucine that inhibits muscle


breakdown. Essentially, HMB is an anti-catabolic supplement.
Why: Dr. Jacon Wilsons lab has shown that, in combination with an effective periodization
program, that HMB supplementation is potent when it comes to preventing muscular damage in
response to novel training. In other words, HMB isnt directly contributing to anabolism but, by
significantly decreasing muscle damage, trainees can train more frequently, with more volume,
and with higher loads. It is THESE factors that will can potentially lead to measurably improved
performance in the gym. If youre following a relatively high frequency, high volume training
program, such as the PTW programs, and youre not yet adapted to the new stimulus, HMB is
something to consider in my opinion.
How/When: HMB should be taken daily in three separate 1g doses. On training days, take 1g
before training. Cycling on and off is unnecessary.
Note: Keep in mind that total your total muscle mass is a product of muscle protein synthesis
minus muscle protein breakdown. HMB is most effective when combined with training and
supplementation that is maximizing the muscle protein synthesis part of the equation. When
muscle protein synthesis is maximized, HMB can help increase net protein accretion by
decreasing protein breakdowns. Alone, you wouldnt expect to see as potent of results in the
studies.
Recommendation: Ideally, youd use HMB-FA 30-45 minutes before a workout, but it isnt
available commercially yet. As such, Im currenly using Met-Rxs product as they originally put
HMB on the market.

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3) TMG / Betaine Anhydrous

What: TMG (Trimethylglycine), also known as betaine, is a methyl derivative first isolated from
beets. However, it is found it a variety of other foods as well. The exact mechanisms behind why
TMG has been demonstrated to occasionally have positive impacts on strength, body
composition, and work capacity arent fully understood. There are several competing theories,
but the most probable revolve around increased creatine synthesis and/or the osmolytic
properties of betaine (translation: it optimizes cellular hydration which improves function under
stressful conditions).
Why: The truth is that out of all the supplements Im going to recommend, the support for
Betaine is the most equivocal. The results just arent that consistent from study to study
especially in terms of the improvements in body composition and peak power output. However,
multiple studies have found that betaine has had a positive impact on work capacity
particularly when paired with metabolically challenging workout protocols. In other words,
higher reps and/or high volume (with potentially limited rest periods). Frankly, I know several
top iron athletes who both personally supplement with betaine and recommend it to their
athletes due to the myriad potential benefits. Id be remiss not to mention it here. Youll have to
decide for yourself if it is worth it given the inconsistent support in the literature.
How/When: Take 1.25g both pre and post workout. Cycling is unnecessary.
Recommendation: Buy cheap and in bulk. I use Hard Rhino.

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4) D-Aspartic Acid (DAA)

What: D-Aspartic Acid is an amino acid that helps regulate testosterone synthesis.
Why: The research strongly shows that you can transiently increase testosterone with DAA
supplementation to the tune of a 30-40% increase. However, there is no data to show that this
increase in testosterone actually correlates to increases in strength or improvements in body
composition. Additionally, further research is required to fully understand the long term effects
of DAA supplementation.
How/When: Take 3g per day at any point in the day for ~4-6 weeks. Cycle off for six weeks
before resuming use.
Note: Look, as Ive noted above, this stuff does increase testosterone, but, ultimately, we dont
have any evidence that increasing testosterone within physiologically normal ranges actually
does anything. Nonetheless, if youre maximizing other aspects of your supplementation and
micronutrition, this transient boost in testosterone may prove beneficial to your mood and
general well-being if nothing else. I think it would be silly to go without mentioning one of the
few supplements out there that demonstrably and naturally improves testosterone levels.
Recommendation: Find a cheap generic brand. As usual, Hard Rhino is awesome.

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Chapter 14: The EatingToWin Nutrition System Summary

At this point, I believe Ive discussed the why and how of all of the aspects of the EatingToWin System.
As such, Id like to bring everything together in one convenient place where you can just quickly
reference the rules of the system. For explanations, please see the previous chapters.
Please remember that the spreadsheet which comes with this book does all of this for you!

a) Bulk or Cut?
You Should Cut When:

Males: ~15%+ Body Fat according to Pictures and Navy Body Fat Method
Females: ~23%+ Body Fat according to Pictures and Navy Body Fat Method

You Should Bulk When:

Males: ~10% or less Body Fat according to Pictures and Navy Body Fat Method
Females: ~18% or less Body Fat according to Pictures and Navy Body Fat Method

b) Set Up The Diet


1) Determine Calorie Needs
If youve just finished a bulk or cut
Simply reverse out of the cut or bulk using the caloric adjustment rules below
Bulking Caloric Starting Point
Males: 16x Body Weight
Females: 15x Body Weight
Cutting Caloric Starting Point
Males: 12x Body Weight
Females: 11x Body Weight

2) Determine Protein Intake


On High Carb Days
~1.0g/lbs or ~2.2g/kg
On Low Carb Days
~1.1g/lbs or ~2.4g/kg

3) Determine Fat Intake


On High Carb Days
~22.5% of Baseline Calories
On Low Carb Days
~25% of Baseline Calories

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4) Determine Carbohydrate Intake


On Low Carb Days
All remaining calories go to carbs.
On High Carb Days
~50% more carbs than Low Carb Days.

5) Determining Fiber Intake


On All Days
10%-20% of total daily carbohydrate intake.

c) Adjusting the Diet


1) Collect Weekly Data
Collect Cut vs. Bulk Data
Measure Your Waist, Neck, and take a shirtless picture in the mirror at the start of each week.
Collect Weekly Caloric Adjustment Data
Take a running average of your daily weight. Weigh-in first thing in the morning before eating or
drinking and after using the restroom.

2) Weekly Adjustment Rules


Decide Whether to Cut, Bulk, or Continue
Using your pictures and waist/neck data, determine if you should continue cutting or bulking or
if it is time to switch phases.
Adjust Weekly Caloric Intake
Use the following rules to adjust caloric intake:
During A Cut:
i)
Lifter gained weight; subtract 200kcal from daily intake
ii)
Lifter lost less than 0.5% body weight; subtract 100kcal from daily intake
iii)
Lifter lost between 0.5%-0.6% body weight; subtract 50kcal from daily intake
iv)
Lifter lost between 0.6%-0.8% body weight; keep daily intake the same
v)
Lifter lost between 0.8%-1.0% body weight; add 50kcal to daily intake
vi)
Lifter lost more than 1.0% body weight; add 100kcal to daily intake
During a Bulk:
i)
Lifter lost more than 0.5% body weight; add 200kcal to daily intake
ii)
Lifter lost 0.5%-0.1% body weight; add 100kcal to daily intake
iii)
Lifter gained less than ~0.1% body weight; add 50kcal to daily intake
iv)
Lifter gained ~0.1-0.3% body weight; keep daily intake the same
v)
Lifter gained ~0.3-~0.5% body weight; subtract 50kcal from daily intake
vi)
Lifter gained more than ~0.5% body weight; subtract 100kcal from daily intake

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d) Supplements
1) Pre-Workout Shake
i)
ii)
iii)
iv)
v)
vi)

Caffeine: 300-600mg; ~5mg/kg or ~2.5mg/lb of body weight


Creatine: 5g
Beta-Alanine: 3g
BCAAs: 10g
HMB: 1g
TMG: 1.25g

2) Post-Workout Shake
i)
ii)
iii)
iv)

Beta-Alanine: 3g
BCAAs: 10g
HMB: 1g
TMG: 1.25g

3) When Convenient
i)
ii)
iii)
iv)

Vitamin D3: ~2000-5000iu/day


Fish Oil: ~1-2g of EPA/DHA
HMB: 1g, get three servings per day
Multivitamin: Follow label dosing instructions

4) Before Bed
i)

Melatonin: 500mcg-5mg

5) Between Meals
i)

BCAAs: 5g

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Chapter 15: An Example of the EatingToWin System

To help the mass of information that Ive just delivered sink in, were going to take a theoretical lifter
and run him through the above system. In so doing, I hope to give you all a more clear understanding of
how applying these rules would actually work.
Please keep in mind that the spreadsheet which comes with this book will do all of this for you.
Regardless, this section is further cement your understanding of the whole process.

Introducing Our Hypothetical Lifter: Izzy


Meet our hypothetical lifter: Izzy. He is 56, 180lbs, he doesnt know his body fat, and he has no idea
how much food hes been eating. He is willing to learn macro counting, though. His waist measurement
is 35, his neck is 17, and his pictures demonstrate that his upper abs faintly show when flexed.

Izzy Does Some Deadlifts

Should Izzy Cut or Bulk?

When we run his numbers through the Navy Body fat method, Izzys approximate body fat comes out to
17%. Based on his pictures, these measurements, and the fact he doesnt have abs clearly showing, we
can safely conclude that Izzy should initiate a cut.

Setting Up Izzys Diet

Setting Calories
We know that Izzy should cut because hes over 15% body fat. He doesnt know how much hes been
eating however so we have to estimate his starting calories. In this case, 180 * 12 = 2160 calories. Well
round up to 2,200 so that we can work in increments of 50-100kcal.

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Setting Protein
Izzy is going to be in a caloric deficit. As such, well set his protein at ~1.1g/lb. 180*1.1=198g. Well
round to 200g to make things simpler. His protein intake is 200g +/- 5g.
Setting Fat
To help keep Izzy sane on his diet, well keep his fat intake at 25% of total calories. If he had more
experience with macro counting, we might use 20% to keep his carbs higher.
In this case though, 2200*.25=550 calories. There are 9 calories per gram of fat. To get our fat intake, we
do: 550/9=~61g of fat. Final intake: 61g +/- 5g.
Setting Carbohydrates
The rest of our calories will be allocated to carbohydrates. First, we need to figure out how many
calories we have left.
We know that there are 4 calories per gram of protein and 9 calories per gram of fat. With this in mind,
200*4+61*9=800+550=1350.
In order to figure out how many calories we have left for carbs, we need to do: 2200-1350= 850. There
are also 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate. 850/4 = ~213. Final intake: 213g +/- 5g.
Setting Fiber
We want Izzy to consume between 10-20% of his total carbohydrate intake from fiber. This will
automatically improve his micronutrient profile because it is hard to keep fiber high while eating junk.
This will also keep his gut and digestive system functioning well.
213*.1 = ~21g
213*.2= ~42g
Izzy should consume between 21-42g of fiber.

Izzys Baseline Diet

Izzys Baseline diet, +/- 5g, is:


2200kcal, 200g Protein, 213g Carbohydrates, 61g fat, 21-42g of fiber

Setting High Carb Days


Calculating Macros
Protein: Well use 1g/lb here because of the higher overall calories. 180*1= 180g +/- 5g
Fat: Well lower the fat here to 22.5% of baseline calories to make more room for carbs. 2200*.225=495.
495/9= 55g +/- 5g
Carbs: Well increase carbs 50% here. 213*1.5= 320g +/- 5g
Fiber: 320*.1 and 320*.2 = 32-64g
High Carb Day Diet: 180g protein, 320g carbs, 55g fat +/- 5g
Placing High Carb Days
Lets say Izzy is following PIP3 from ProgrammingToWin. His training schedule is Mon/Tue hard lifting,
Wed GPP, Thu/Fri hard lifting, and Saturday GPP. Well place his two high carb days on Monday and
Thursday. This way, hell get the immediate benefits of more glycogen on Monday and Thursday while

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also benefitting from the leftover glycogen increase on Tuesday and Friday. We get more bang for our
buck this way.

Izzys First Weekly Macro Diet:

High Carb Days (Mon/Thu): 180g protein, 320g of carbs, 55g of fat 32-64g of fiber
Low Carb Days (All Other Days): 200g protein, 213g of carbs, 61g of fat, 21-42g of fiber
+/- 5g on All Macro Values

Adjusting Izzys Diet from Week to Week


Okay, were going to make up a sample diet stretch here where we adjust Izzys macros and calories
based on what is happening weekly.
The following numbers assume Izzy is measuring his waist once per week on Monday and his
bodyweight number is a running average of his morning weight every single day that week.

Getting Started:
Heres our starting Data
Week 0: 180lbs, 35 Waist, 17 Neck, Navy BF ~17%
Izzys diet for week one will be: 200P/213C/61F. We already set this up in the preceding section.
Here is the results after one week
Week 1: 178lbs, 34.5 Waist, 17 Neck, Navy BF ~16%
Izzy has lost 1-(178/180)= 1.11% of his BW this week. This is too fast according to our rules. Were going
to add in 100kcal worth of macros. Im going to spare you all the calculations, but his new macros at a
2300kcal baseline are: 2300kcal, 200P/231C/64F.
Here are the results we get after the next week:
Week 2: 176.4lbs, 34.25 Waist, 17 Neck, ~15.5% Navy BF
Izzy has lost 1-(176.4/178)= 0.9% of his BW this week. According to our rules, were going to add
another 50kcal just to slow the rate down a tiny bit and make sure hes eating as much as possible while
still losing at the rate we want to see. His new macros, after all the calculations, at 2350kcal will be:
200P, 241C, 65F.
Here are the results we get after one more week:
Week 3: 175.0lbs, 34 Waist, 16.75 Neck, ~15.5% Navy BF
Izzy has lost 1-(175/176.4)=0.8% of his BW this week. According to our rules, this is the exact rate were
looking for and were not going to touch his calories! His macros will remain the same.

Changing Gears:

Lets fast forward ~10 weeks and assume Izzy is nearing the end of his cut.

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Week 13: 166lbs, 16 Neck, 30.75 Waist, ~10% Navy Body Fat
Izzys Macros have come down to 2000kcal during this process and he is now eating: 200P/174C/56F
Week 14: 165.1lbs, 16 Neck, 30.5 Waist, ~9.5% Navy Body Fat
At this point, Izzy is getting quite lean and hes finally dropped below ~10% or so, his training is starting
to suffer a bit, and all the indicators are pointing to the fact he should start bulking. Because his
indicators all point to a bulk, he decides to transition out of his cut. He follows the EatingToWin rules
and adds 200kcal worth of macros.
Week 15: 164.6lbs, 16 Neck, 30.5 Waist, ~9.5% Navy Body Fat
Izzy has lost 1-(164.6/165.1)= ~0.3% of his BW. Were now in the range of taking ~100kcal jumps. Izzy is
still not very far into the reverse-diet process. Hes still losing weight. Nonetheless, as per the rules, he
goes ahead and adds another 100kcal worth of macros taking him back up to 2300kcal.
Week 16: 164.5lbs, 16.25 Neck, 30.75 Waist, ~9.5% Navy Body Fat
Izzy lost a tiny bit of weight his week, but hes clearly getting closer to caloric maintenance. His waist
and neck increase a bit as he puts back on some glycogen. As per the rules, he adds another 50kcal
because he only lost ~0.1% of BW. This brings his intake back to 2350kcal.
Week 17: 164.6lbs, 16.25 Neck, 30.75 Waist, ~9.5% Navy Body Fat
Again, Izzy has gained less than ~0.1% BW. As per the rules, he adds another 50kcal bringing his total up
to 2400kcal.
Week 18: 164.9lbs, 16.25 Neck, 31 Waist, ~10% Navy Body Fat
In this case, Izzy has gained just under ~0.2% body weight this week. Hes going to keep his macros the
same and slowly push them upward as he bulks. After four weeks, hes successfully reversed out of his
deficit.
This is what the cutting and bulking process looks like when you bring everything together.

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Chapter 16: How to Cut Water Weight

Weve discussed the how and the why of nearly every aspect of powerlifting nutrition except for one:
weight cutting. If youll recall, our rule for deciding what weight class to compete in was: the lowest
possible weight class without crossing below our minimum body fat threshold and without cutting more
than 5-10% water weight depending on the length of our weigh-ins.
In this chapter, were going to bring the final piece of the puzzle together and figure out how to cut
water weight for a meet both for 2-hour weigh-ins and 24-hour weigh-ins.
There are a whole variety of aspects to consider when of water cutting to make weight for a meet: 1)
water intake manipulation, 2) sodium manipulation, 3) glycogen manipulation, 4) food weight
manipulation, 5) supplements, 6) dehydration tactics, and 7) reconstitution.
Please keep in mind that, as a general rule, the less of these tactics that you have to use to make
weight, the better your chances will be of maintaining or increasing performance on meet day.

Water Intake Manipulation


Many of the practices that were going to engage in involve ramping up some of the bodys
compensation mechanisms. Water manipulation is really no different.
The primary method of water manipulation is a tried and true practice called water loading. Water
loading simply involves overhydrating yourself for a few days so that your bodys regulatory mechanisms
kick into high gear and start excreting water at an accelerated pace.

Remember when you used to carry one of these around? Come on, admit it. Water loading just might force you to start
carrying around a gallon of water again.

Once this is happening, well drastically cut back on water. Now, the body will eventually compensate
for this, but there is a delay period. In other words, when you initially cut back on water consumption,
after overconsuming, your body will continue to expel water at an accelerated pace. In simple terms,
youll keep pissing like youre consuming a ton of water, but you simply wont be taking in a bunch of
water anymore.

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Keep in mind that this practice only works if youre already consuming an adequate amount of water
when you begin the process. If you havent been drinking enough water in the weeks leading up to the
weight cut, this wont work.
Lets see what it looks like in practice.

How to Water Load

The following assumes youve been consuming ~1 gallon / ~4 liters of water per day in the weeks leading
up to the meet.
24-Hour Weigh-In
5 Days Out: 2 gallons / 8 liters of water
4 Days Out: 2 gallons / 8 liters of water
3 Days Out: 1 gallon / 4 liters of water
2 Days Out: 0.5 gallon / 2 liters of water, stop drinking ~12 hours before your weigh-in time
Weigh-In Day:
a) Immediately drink 32oz of fluids made of 50% water and 50% gatorade, pedialyte or coconut water
b) Drink as much water as youd like. Youll need to put a lot of water back on and, if you rush the
process, youll get sick. This is very individual. Go at your own pace in terms of the water.
Meet Day: Id recommend sipping on the same aforementioned 50%/50% concoction described above.
Just make sure you meet your hydration needs. Well discuss Meet Day nutrition more elsewhere.
2-Hour Weigh-In
4 Days Out: 2 gallons / 8 liters of water
3 Days Out: 2 gallon / 8 liters of water
2 Days Out: 1 gallon / 4 liters of water
1 Day Out: 0.5 gallon / 2 liters of water, Stop drinking ~12 hours before your weigh-in time
Meet Day, Post Weigh-Ins:
a) Immediately drink 32oz of fluids made of 50% water and 50% gatorade, pedialyte or coconut water
b) Continue drinking this concoction throughout the meet.
Meet Day, Lifting: Sip on the 50%/50% drink.

Sodium Manipulation
Sodium manipulation works in nearly exactly the same fashion as water manipulation. Youre going to
need a baseline level of sodium intake so that your body is already used to processing and dealing with
salt. Then, youre going to radically increase your intake for a short period which is going to cause
temporary water retention especially alongside the extra water youll be drinking. This causes your body
to kick into high gear as far as dealing with sodium goes. A few days out from the meet, youll cut out
most of your sodium and, due to the delayed effect on your bodys regulatory mechanisms, youll dump
out a lot more water than usual.

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Sodium loading generally requires that you put a lot more salt on your food than youd like.

Lets take a look at how it might play out in practice.

How to Manipulate Sodium

The following assumes that youve already been adding sodium to your foods in the preceding weeks via
sauces and table salt.
24-Hour Weigh-In
5 Days Out: 5 grams
4 Days Out: 5 grams
3 Days Out: 1 gram
2 Days Out: 1 gram
Weigh-In Day, Post Weigh-In: Add ~1 gram to every meal you eat
Meet Day: There is no need for added salt here, but you might consider keeping some salty snacks on
hand. Water retention, particularly intramuscular water retention, is going to be a performance
enhancer on meet day.
2 Hour Weigh-In
4 Days Out: 5 grams
3 Days Out: 5 grams
2 Days Out: 1 gram
1 Day Out: 1 gram
Meet Day: Add ~500mg-1000mg gram to every meal you eat (whatever your stomach tolerates best)

Carbohydrate Intake Manipulation


Carb manipulation actually works differently than our previous forays into water and salt manipulation,
respectively. You see, in order to store each gram of glycogen in your muscular stores, approximately 4g
of water is required as well. Depending on the size your body, you might be capable of storing anywhere
from 400-800g of glycogen or more. If youre following along, this means that approximately ~2kg-4kg
(~4.5lbs-9lbs) of your body weight is made up of glycogen and the water that is requisite to its storage.
In fact, large male athletes often see even bigger losses than this when theyre fully glycogen depleted.
Now, carbohydrate manipulation takes a bit of finesse because it is context dependent. If you have a 24hour weigh-in, youll often have plenty of time to completely deplete your glycogen stores for the
weigh-in and then (nearly) completely replenish them by the time the meet starts.

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However, if youre a 2-hour weigh-in athlete, you absolutely will not have time to do this. Depending on
how large you are, you might be capable of reconstituting anywhere from 50g-100g every two hours. In
other words, you cannot completely deplete your glycogen stores and then completely replenish them
in time for the meet.
In fact, depending on the size of the weight cut, you might not want to mess with glycogen manipulation
at all as a 2-hour weigh-in athlete. Water loading and sodium manipulation alone are often enough to
produce 1-3kg (~2-6lbs) of transient weight loss depending on how large of a human being you are. As a
2-hour weigh-in athlete, if you can avoid doing so, I wouldnt deplete glycogen too much. If you have no
other choice in order to make weight, well, you have no other choice.
Im going to be presenting a partial depletion option here, but please keep in mind that even this option
is going to be fairly drastic and might cause a dent in your performance. Remember the general rule: the
fewer tactics you have to use to make weight, the better your chances of maintaining performance.
24-Hour Weigh-In
5 Days Out: High Carb Day (I usually do openers here; do a normal carb day if no training)
4 Days Out: 50% Normal Carb Intake up to a max of 200g carbs
3 Days Out: Minimal/Trace Carbs
2 Days Out: Minimal/Trace Carbs
Weigh-In Day, Post Weigh-In: Eat ~100g-150g of carbs every 2-3 hours. Keep fat to ~10g per meal
initially because it will blunt the rate of digestion and thus absorption. Fat can increase somewhat
towards the end of the day. Do NOT eat foods that are significantly different than usual. Your stomach is
in a fragile state.
Meet Day: There is no particular carbohydrate recommendation that Im going make for the meet itself.
Keep snacks on hand, dont eat foods too different from usual, and eat relatively normally. Keep your
50%/50% drink on hand and sip that for additional carbohydrates.
2-Hour Weigh-In
5 Days Out: High Carb Day (I usually do openers here; do a normal carb day if no training)
4 Days Out: Normal Carb Day
3 Days Out: 50% Normal Carb Intake up to a max of 200g carbs
2 Days Out: 25% Normal Carb Intake up to a max of 150g carbs
1 Day Out: Minimal/Trace Carbs, Stop Eating 12 hours before weigh-in
Meet Day, Post Weigh-In: Eat ~100g of carbs every 2 hours. Keep fat to ~10g per meal initially because
it will blunt the rate of digestion and thus absorption. Youre going to have to keep the fat low until
towards the end of the meet. You need to maximize the rate of glycogen resynthesis.

Food Weight Manipulation


One of the most underlooked aspects of cutting weight is perhaps the fact that food itself has a weight.
You dont want to waste pounds or kilos on the scale because you still have food digesting in your
system. There are two ways to prevent this: a) liquid meals and b) taking a laxative at some point. I tend
to recommend both in concert for best effect. I consider laxatives a supplement so well just address the

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liquid meals in this section. This is another easy way to take-off weight without directly affecting your
performance.
Starting about 4-5 days out, I recommend making one of your meals liquid. This is very simple to do.
Youre going to need a whey protein powder supplement and perhaps some milk for flavoring. That is all
it takes. You can add additional carbohydrates through waxy maize, dextrose, or some other
carbohydrate product if necessary. Make the liquid meal the last meal of the day so you can start to get
a sense of how it is going to impact your weight throughout the week.
Lets look at a sample template.

How to Manipulate Food Weight


24-Hour Weigh-In
5 Days Out: 1 Liquid Meal (last meal of the day)
4 Days Out: 1 Liquid Meal (last meal of the day)
3 Days Out: 2 Liquid Meals (last two meals of the day)
2 Days Out: All Liquid Meals
Weigh-In Day: Eat regular food after weighing in!
2-Hour Weigh-In
4 Days Out: 1 Liquid Meal (last meal of the day)
3 Days Out: 1 Liquid Meal (last meal of the day)
2 Days Out: 2 Liquid Meals (last two meals of the day)
1 Day Out: All Liquid Meals
Meet Day: Eat regular food after weighing in!

Supplements
There are very few supplements worth a damn in this entire process, but lets break down the
categories: 1) natural diuretics, 2) natural laxatives, and 3) reconstitution support.

Natural Diuretics

A diuretic is simply something that enhances the rate at which you urinate. As far as Im concerned, the
most potent natural diuretic that wont harm your performance is caffeine. 200mg is an effective dose
for this purpose. Try to avoid PM doses that might affect your sleeping habits.
After caffeine, dandelion root is fairly effective as well.

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There are a few other natural supplements that can help. If you want all of this stuff at once without
having to think about it, just find the cheapest, generic water pill that you can. My favorite happens to
be Watershed by Absolute Nutrition. Follow the dosing guidelines on the label.

Additionally, if youre at weigh-ins, and, god forbid, youre overweight a bit, Id recommend having some
extremely sour candy on hand or a cinnamon product. Both will increase saliva production massively.
From there, you can spit off the rest of the weight. This is often good for a pound or so (half a kilo). My
favorite supplement for this is Warheads candy.

Natural Laxatives

Im going to avoid talking about any prescription laxatives because you probably cant and shouldnt get
your hands on them anyways. My go-to in this area has always been magnesium citrate as an oral
solution. You need to keep in mind that this stuff tastes absolutely awful. It is disgusting. Youre also
going to want to be near a toilet. Im dead serious. The effects are, eh, explosive. However, you should
be able to get it at any basic drug store. Follow the dosing guidelines on the label or until effect.

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Youre going to want to take this after your last solid meal of the week before weigh-ins. This should be
on the day where you have two liquid meals. You want to do this early enough in the day that youre not
waking up all night having to go to the bathroom. You also want to do it early enough that your system
is cleared out by the time youre taking in all liquid meals.

Reconstitution Support

Ive already made mention of the 50%/50% drinks several times but Ill do so again here. Mix a drink
with 50% water and the 50% coming from either Gatorade, pedialyte or coconut water. Mix in ~10g of
BCAAs or two scoops if youve been using Scivation Xtend. This will help you from overdosing the
electrolytes by drinking 100% Gatorade and/or not replenishing them sufficiently by drinking all water.
Thats the main purpose.

Supplement Template
24-Hour Weigh-In
3 Days Out: Water Pill, Caffeine (AM/Noon), Magnesium Citrate
2 Days Out: Water Pill, Caffeine (AM/Noon)
1 Day Out, Pre Weigh-In: Have sour candy or cinnamon gum on hand if spitting is necessary
1 Day Out, Post Weigh-In: Immediately drink 32oz of your 50%/50% drink
2-Hour Weigh-In
2 Days Out: Water Pill, Caffeine (AM/Noon), Magnesium Citrate
1 Days Out: Water Pill, Caffeine (AM/Noon)
Meet Day, Pre Weigh-In: Have sour candy or cinnamon gum on hand if spitting is necessary
Meet Day, Post Weigh-In: Immediately drink 32oz of your 50%/50% drink

Dehydration Tactics
The most important thing that you need to understand right now is that dehydration tactics are
inherently unsafe. They often involve a combination of both high temperatures and extreme
dehydration. You should never attempt any dehydration method while alone. You may pass out and die.
Seriously. Take the necessary precautions and contact the relevant professionals to guide you through
this process if youve never done it before.
Youre quite literally purposefully dehydrating yourself to dangerous levels in order to lose water
weight. That is what is going on here. Through the use of the sauna, a hot bath, a steam room, or
whatever method you choose, youre going to sweat enough to lose a massive amount of water weight.
And then youre not going to drink water afterwards because you have to weigh-in. This is one reason
why I recommend that you keep your weight cuts under 10% at an absolute max. You wont have to risk
traveling into truly dangerous territories.

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Dehydration: 2-Hour vs. 24-Hour Weigh-In

If youre a 2-hour weigh-in competitor, I highly recommend that you just dont try to use any of these
dehydration tactics at all. You only have two hours to put water back on after the weigh-in. That isnt
enough time to fully rehydrate. Even minor dehydration has been shown to decrease performance in
some athletes by up to 10%. Can you afford to lose 10% on your total? No? Then dont try this stuff as a
2-hour weigh-in athlete.
For you 24-hour weigh-in guys, lets get into the meat and potatoes.

The Best Way to Dehydrate

Before we can talk about the best way to rehydrate, we need to talk about the absolute madness that
many people engage in when trying to cut weight. Just about the WORST thing you can do, in terms of
performance and muscle maintenance, is to put on a bunch of garbage bags and run around for hours
doing calisthenics. When youre dehydrated, and under eating to make weight, youre HIGHLY
susceptible to muscle loss. The fatigue and stress you generate from using these crazy methods can cost
you a MASSIVE amount of performance the next day at your meet.
With that said, in my opinion, the best method, due to its simplicity, is the sauna. You dont have to run
around and go crazy. You dont have to put yourself in a position to lose muscle. You can just sit there,
relax, and sweat. Thats it. This is why the sauna is so great.
The other option Ive used in the past, though I consider it inferior, is to convert your bathroom into a
steam room. This is sometimes necessary when you travel for a meet, have to stay at a hotel, and cant
locate a nearby sauna. In any case, you need to block the airways in the bathroom by, for example,
shoving a towel underneath the door. Next, youre going to want to get the shower running as hot as
possible. Once the heat is all the way up, plug the drain in the bathtub so that a pool can accumulate.
When the hot water from the shower hits the pool, steam will begin to rise. In a few minutes, this makes
the bathroom quite hot. It doesnt work as well as a sauna, but it can get the job done in a pinch.
Please keep in mind there are other options such as hot baths, but I cant recommend these options
because Ive never used them. I strongly recommend sauna approach because it is tried and true.
Weight class athletes have been using saunas effectively for decades.

Best Practices for the Sauna

First of all, lets talk timing. You want to use the sauna as late in the game as possible because you want
to know exactly how much weight you have left to take off. You should save the sauna for the early
evening on the day before weigh-ins. This means youre nearly fully depleted in terms of glycogen,
youre already a bit dehydrated due to the water and sodium loading, and your gut is empty due to the
previous days laxatives and the current days liquid meals. In other words, you should already be a long
ways towards making weight. This minimizes the amount of water you have to cut and it minimizes the
amount of time you have to spend in such a dehydrated state.
At the same time, dont go too late in the day because youll have extreme difficulty falling asleep. Your
body takes quite a while to return to normal temperatures.
When it comes to actually using the sauna, Ive personally had a lot of success with a 15 minutes in and
5 minutes out protocol. It isnt practical, reasonable, or safe to just sit in the sauna for hours on end.
Every time I get out of the sauna, I towel off any sweat that is on my skin. Once your body temperature

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starts to down regulate after you get into the sauna, you can actually re-absorb the sweat on your skin. I
dont want to spend any more time in the sauna than is absolutely necessary so I always towel off.
Additionally, you should keep a log of approximately how much weight you lose overnight starting ~5-7
days before your meet. This will give you a good idea of when to quit using the sauna. For me, I know
from first-hand experience that I need to get within ~1.5lbs or so of making weight before I can get out
of the sauna with peace of mind. Ill lose the rest overnight. You always lose a little water weight
overnight through exhalation alone. Just be careful not to cut things too close because you tend to lose
a little bit less water overnight when youre severely dehydrated.
Lets take a look at what this all looks like in a simplified form.

Sauna Protocol
1)
2)
3)
4)

Track how much weight you lose from night to morning during the week of the meet.
Hit the Sauna with a guardian at ~5pm the day before weigh-ins
15 minutes in, 5 minutes out protocol, towel off the sweat each time
Keep hitting the sauna until youre well within range of losing the rest of the weight overnight.

In the end, the sauna just isnt all that complicated. It just kind of sucks.

The EatingToWin Weight Cutting Protocol


Lets bring all of this back together into a simple, outline form for cutting weight.

24-Hour Weigh-In

5 Days Out:
Water: ~2 gallons / 8 liters
Sodium: ~5 grams
Carbs: High Carb Day
Food: 1 Liquid Meal, last meal of the day
4 Days Out:
Water: ~2 gallons / 8 liters
Sodium: ~5 grams
Carbs: 50% Normal Intake up to 200g maximum
Food: 1 Liquid Meal, last meal of the day
3 Days Out:
Water: ~1 gallon / 4 liters
Water in shakes counts towards total!
Sodium: ~1 gram
Carbs: Minimal / Trace amounts

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Food: 2 Liquid Meal, last meal of the day
Supplements: Magnesium Citrate (after last solid meal), Caffeine, Water Pill
2 Days Out:
Water: ~0.5 gallons / 2 liters, stop drinking ~12 hours before weigh-in
Water in shakes counts towards total!
Sodium: ~1 gram
Carbs: Minimal / Trace amounts
Food: All liquid meals, shakes only, stop eating ~12 hours before weigh-in
Supplements: Caffeine, Water Pill
Sauna:
1) Go early evening
2) 15min in, 5min out
3) Stop when youre within ~1-1.5lbs/0.5-0.7kg from making weight
1 Day Out, Post Weigh-In:
Water: As much as youd like
Sodium: ~1g with every meal
Carbs: ~100-150g every 2-3 hours
Food: Dont eat new foods, stick to what your stomach is used to
Supplements: Immediately after stepping off the scale drink 32oz of fluids: 50% water, 50% Gatorade,
coconut water, or pedialyte. Add 2 scoops of BCAAs to the drink.
Meet Day:
Water: As much as youd like
Sodium: Not as important, salty snacks if you want
Carbs: Eat normal foods
Food: Dont eat new foods, stick to what your stomach is used to
Supplements: Sip on your 50%/50% drink, BCAAs between attempts, Caffeine and other recommend
workout supplements as desired

2-Hour Weigh-In

5 Days Out:
Water: Normal
Sodium: Normal
Carbs: High Carb Day
Food: Normal
4 Days Out:
Water: ~2 gallons / 8 liters
Sodium: ~5 grams
Carbs: Normal Carb Day
Food: 1 Liquid Meal, last meal of the day
3 Days Out:
Water: ~2 gallon / 8 liters
Sodium: ~5 gram

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Carbs: 50% of Normal Intake up to 200g Maximum
Food: 1 Liquid Meal, last meal of the day
2 Days Out:
Water: ~1 gallon / 4 liters
Water in shakes counts towards total!
Sodium: ~1 gram
Carbs: 25% of Normal Intake up to 150g Maximum
Food: 2 Liquid Meals, last two meals of the day
Supplements: Magnesium Citrate (after last solid food meal), Caffeine, Water Pill
1 Day Out:
Water: ~0.5 gallon / 2 liters, stop drinking ~12 hours before weigh-in
Water in shakes counts towards total!
Sodium: ~1 gram
Carbs: Minimal, Trace Amounts Only
Food: All Liquid Meals, shakes only, last shake ~12 hours before weigh-in
Supplements: Caffeine, Water Pill
Meet Day, Post Weigh-In:
Water: As much as youd like
Sodium: ~500mg-1g with every meal
Carbs: ~100-150g every 2-3 hours, keep fat below ~10g to help speed absorption!
Food: Dont eat new foods, stick to what your stomach is used to
Supplements: Immediately after stepping off the scale drink 32oz of fluids: 50% water, 50% Gatorade,
coconut water, or pedialyte. Add 2 scoops of BCAAs to the drink.
BCAAs should be used between attempts. Use caffeine and other workout supplements as desired.

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Chapter 17: Frequently Asked Questions


Do I really have to take all those supplements?

Absolutely not. Please remember the hierarchy of nutritional importance. The supplements I suggest are
for those who are interested in getting every last potential advantage possible. Theyre for people who
are trying to optimize their nutrition. If the supplements are financially tenable for you, dont get them.

How should I train when following the EatingToWin System?

If youre looking for programming discussion or actual programs to follow, check out
ProgrammingToWin.

This is too complicated. Help?

Keep in mind that I did include a spreadsheet with this book that will essentially set-up the diet for you.
If youd still like further individualization and youd like personal attention, please feel free to contact
me.

Where can I learn more about nutrition?

When it comes to nutrition, here are the list of guys who I think are the absolute best in the industry
right now with regards to information that is relevant to strength athletes:
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)

Eric Helms: http://www.3dmusclejourney.com/team-3dmj.php


Layne Norton: http://www.biolayne.com/
Jordan Feigenbaum: http://www.barbellmedicine.com/
Lyle McDonald: http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/
Mike Israetel: http://renaissanceperiodization.com/
Alan Aragon: http://alanaragon.com/

Where can I learn more about Powerlifting?

Come on now, homie, you know you can always check out PowerliftingToWin for more powerlifting
information on equipment, technique, and a variety of other powerlifting related topics.

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Conclusion
Well my friends, there you have it: EatingToWin. I certainly hope that this has been worth the wait. I
hope that youve received a tremendous amount of value from this book and I hope that your training
forever benefits from any knowledge you have gained in its reading. I believe this to be among the finest
work done thus far by PowerliftingToWin. As always, well only strive to get better from here.
Before the end, I do have some final thoughts for your consideration.

If You Want More

If youve been impressed with this content, I am quite sure that you will find the informational archives
at PowerliftingToWin.com to be of the same caliber in terms of quality. If youre more of a visual
learner, consider checking out the PowerliftingToWin YouTube Channel instead. Of course, if youve
walked away from this reading feeling that you could benefit from working directly with me to optimize
your nutrition and technique in addition to your programming, please email me for more information
regarding my coaching services.

My Goals for EatingToWin


I truly hope that this has been a thoroughly comprehensive, thoroughly enjoyable look into a
powerlifters best practices for both performance enhancement and weight management via nutrition. I
have endeavored to create a resource that not only tells you what you should do, but why you should do
it. My goal was that you walk away from this reading feeling entirely equipped to navigate the open seas
of powerlifting nutrition on your own. My goal was that you would learn something from this book that
would make you a better a lifter.
I truly hope I have succeeded.

Please Show Your Support

If youve found value in this book, please consider showing your support by making a small donation to
the continued development of PowerliftingToWin.

If youre not in a financial position to do so, I completely understand. If youd still like to show support,
consider sharing this content with your lifting friends. As I said in the Foreword, there is NOTHING better
for PowerliftingToWin than having more people who know what it is! Join us on Facebook or YouTube
and help share the word!

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Together, I hope we can create the best powerlifting community internet. I believe were already well on
our way. Time will tell.

Have a nice day my friends,


Izzy Narvaez
www.PowerliftingToWin.com

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This book may not be reproduced or recorded in any form without
express written permission from the author.
Copyright 2015 by Israel Narvaez. All Rights Reserved.