Losing body fat when powerlifting presents the challenge of dieting without strength loss. Do not modify your lifting program -- the same program that built your strength will allow you to keep your strength. Adding some cardiovascular exercise and conditioning work on the days you do not lift and modifying your diet will allow you to lose fat without dropping lean muscle mass. Do not make drastic changes to your diet; make modifications slowly and determine the effect they have on your training. If your lifts start to go down, you have cut out either too much or something important. Consult a health-care practitioner before beginning any diet or exercise program.
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Calculate your caloric intake for seven days. Average this for the week. If you have not gained or lost weight, you have a rough idea of your maintenance caloric intake level.
Reduce your saturated fat intake. Eliminate fatty cuts of red meat and pork. Your fats should consist of no more than 20 percent of your total caloric intake. Eat healthy fats from oily fish, olives and olive oil, nuts and seeds.
Eliminate simple sugars such as soda and junk food. Processed cereals should be replaced with fiber-based cereals such as oat bran. Get most of your carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables, brown rice and sweet potatoes.
Eat protein with every meal and as a between-meal snack. You potentially need up to 2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, according to a study in "The Physician and Sportsmedicine." If you compete in the 220-lb. class, you might need as much as 200 g of protein per day. Get your protein from very lean cuts of red meat, oily fish, chicken and fat-free milk.
Weigh yourself on a weekly basis. If, after two weeks of cleaning up your diet you have not lost weight, cut your calories by 250 per day. Cut calories first from carbohydrates, unless you have an intensely physical job such as swinging a sledgehammer all day. If this is the case, cut your calories from fat. Determine the effect this has after two weeks and make further adjustments if necessary.
Perform conditioning workouts at least three times a week. Do not perform them before or after your regular powerlifting sessions. Performing them on your days off is ideal, or at a separate time of the day if this is not possible.
Perform high-intensity conditioning such as sled dragging twice a week. Drag a weighted sled at least 25 yards moving forward, then 25 yards moving backward. Do this for at least four trips, and add one trip every week until you hit eight trips. Select a weight that you must work to complete all of your dragging.
Perform light cardiovascular exercise at least once per week, twice if your schedule permits. Simply walk for 30 minutes. Avoid marathon sessions, which can scavenge muscle tissue.
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If you do not have a sled, put plywood in the bottom of an old tire and tie a rope around the tire. Sled dragging not only burns fat, but it also improves your tolerance for training volume, according to Louie Simmons, coach of Westside Barbell Club.
Drastic changes to your diet often result in drastic problems. Take your time. If you have waited until the last minute to try to make weight for your meet, plan better next time. Do not attempt to cut all fat out of your diet in an attempt at controlling calories. Fat is essential for hormone production, including testosterone, the most powerful muscle-building hormone.