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Weightlifting Nutrition: Competition Day - By Nick Shaw

Danny Lehr

If you’ve spent countless hours preparing for a big meet with your training, technique and hopefully even your diet, it makes a lot of sense to have a good idea of what you can eat on the day of your competition. This should ultimately give you the best chance of being successful when it matters the most. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to start off with a couple of assumptions:

1.      You’re about 1-2% off of your weight class in terms of bodyweight on the day of the competition

2.      You have an AM weigh in.

The idea of being relatively close to your competition weight on the day of the competition allows you to drop weight without drastic measures. Drastic measures would include a sauna, hot bath, etc. on the day of the competition. This allows for a relatively easy way to drop the last 1-2kgs without it impacting your strength levels. Being 1-2% off should allow an athlete to just limit their carbohydrates the day before a competition and to limit their fluids the night before and the morning of weigh ins until after they have successfully made weight. For our example here, we’ll use an AM weigh in. The same principles can be applied to later weigh ins, it just makes the process a bit trickier as you have to limit fluids/food intake a bit longer.

For an 8am weigh in, after having limited carbs and fluids the night before probably from the late evening on you should likely wake up right where you need to. Instead of eating or drinking anything upon waking you will head to the restroom and then head over and try to be the first in line to weigh in. After you have successfully made weight, this is where the fun begins. It is a good idea to drink a whey protein/high GI carbohydrate drink right afterwards to help rapidly replenish glycogen stores and to help rehydrate your body. Furthermore, you’ll want to drink some additional water to make sure you are definitely fully hydrated. A good way to monitor this is to make sure your urine is relatively clear within the hour or so after weighing in.

In terms of food, this can be highly dependent on the individual. It is a good idea to stick with foods that you are used to eating and know won’t cause any unwanted GI distress or too much bloating to make you uncomfortable. Some individuals will eat less throughout the day due to nerves, but some general guidelines are on the day of competition:

{C}·        Keep fats and fiber as low as you can until after your last attempt of the day. Fats and fiber slow the absorption and will be the most likely to cause GI discomfort throughout the day.

{C}·        Consume both lower GI carb sources and higher GI carb sources. This means you’ll want to have some Gatorade/Powerade with you to sip throughout the day along with something like fruit and/or whole grain bread. This combination allows energy to be sustainable throughout the day.

{C}·        Protein should be kept in moderate amounts throughout the day.

A sample meal after you’ve consumed the Gatorade/whey drink immediately after weighing in would be a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with a banana and Gatorade. This meals covers all of the bullet points mentioned above (low fats/fiber, both high and low GI carb sources and moderate protein).

Throughout the day, it is likely a good idea to continue drinking fluids such as water and Gatorade/Powerade. After your snatch attempts, another small meal should likely be consumed as well. This can be a repeat of the meal you had right after weighing in with a sandwich with some fruit and some Gatorade/Powerade. This meal can become a bit trickier as if time is limited before the C&J, you may want to eat something that sits a bit easier in your stomach and is less total food volume. A good idea here could be a powerbar along with some Gatorade/Powerade. Again, it’s important to note that the actual food choices will depend on the individual and what they like, what sits best with them and what makes them feel the most comfortable on the most important day of their training cycle. A few other options (this is just a few that could be used, certainly not an all-inclusive list) that could be used here would be fruit snacks, bagels, fig newtons and beef jerky. Just be sure you don’t try completely new foods that could make you sick!

Last, this might be the most important meal of the day is what to eat after your last C&J attempt. Drumroll please…….EAT WHATEVER YOU WANT! You’ve just set some PR’s (hopefully) and should go out and celebrate a productive meet with close friends, family and team members!

This article should set you on your way for knowing what to eat on the day of your next competition and will help provide you with the energy you need to perform to your best ability without causing any unwanted stomach discomfort when things matter the most. 


Nick is the Founder and CEO of Renaissance Periodization, a training and diet services company for world class athletes. Renaissance Periodization has worked with some of the top strength athletes in the world including several top weightlifters in the country, Professional Strongmen, all-time world record holders in raw powerlifting, numerous Elite level powerlifters both raw and equipped, some highly ranked CrossFit athletes and nationally qualified physique athletes (bodybuilding, figure, physique and bikini). Nick is also a competitive powerlifter and bodybuilder. Nick holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan in Sport Management. Nick currently resides in Manhattan with his wife and two kids.