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Fuelling your body on competition days

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

The physical demand of competition and the timeframe where most competition schedules demand athletes are at their optimum in the afternoon and early evening. This schedule requires a focussed nutritional intake to allow the body to be able to deliver single explosive efforts where athletes are allowed a limited number of lifts to produce a maximal performance. Subject to the number of competitors dictates the break or spacing between lifts; therefore, the dietary intake needs to be bespoke to every event day.

Baseline nutrition during the build-up to the competition remains constant. Preventing an increase in weight during the build-up to competition whilst optimising the athlete’s performance on a competition day. The direct impact of building reserves is the requirement for all athletes to be measured for entry into their specific weight category. The requirements of weightlifting demand

High power output and absolute strength. These are not significantly impacted by targeted weight loss (Burke et al., 2011).

The only effective strategy is to remove the requirement for significant weight loss and to target a specified weight category, supported by a nutritional strategy to maintain the lean body mass during any required weight loss, supported by an increase in dietary protein intake (Murphy, Hector and Phillips, 2015).

There exists a close correlation between an athlete’s bodyweight and their corresponding amount of energy expenditure. After weighing in two to three hours before an event, The athlete should eat two to three grams of carbohydrates for each kilogram of body weight and 0.5 litres of liquid, Thirty minutes before the competition. After warming up, the lifter’s body should be fully prepared, the amount of energy expenditure of mid-level lifters varies from 0.98 (56kg lifters) to 4.6 kcal/lift for super-heavyweights. One hour before the start of a lift, it is advised that an athlete eats 1 gram carbohydrates for every kilogram of body mass and 0.5 litres of liquid before the competition.

During the event, an athlete should aim to rehydrate with at least one litre per hour of liquid. After the competition, an athlete should target rehydration with at least 1 litre for every pound kilogram lost during the competition.


Burke, L.M., Hawley, J.A., Wong, S.H.S. and Jeukendrup, A.E. (2011). Carbohydrates for training and competition. [online] Journal of Sports Sciences. Available at:

Zello, G.A. (2006). Dietary Reference Intakes for the macronutrients and energy: considerations for physical activity. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 31(1), p.74–79.

Murphy, C.H., Hector, A.J. and Phillips, S.M. (2015). Considerations for protein intake in managing weight loss in athletes. [online] European Journal of Sport Science. Available at:

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