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Am I Eating Enough for Powerlifting?

I am eating about 2500-2800 calories a day, weight 180ish, and have about 20-23% body fat. I ultimately want to be down around 15% bf but am in no rush to get there, 20ish % feels comfortable. I split around 200-250 grams protein, 175-200 grams carbs, 100 grams fat each day, all from clean healthy sources. Just want some general guidance, I’ve been doing this for a few weeks and actually gaining weight, but no noticeable fat gain, so it feels like its working, but would appreciate some feedback from some more experienced powerlifters.

Im aiming for my first meet in February of 2017, so i want to maximize strength and stay below 181lbs to stay in the under 181lb weight class. I dont want to cut much before then so i dont lose strength, but losing some fat will be required if i gain some muscle, solely for the reason of weight class.

On a side note, should i just ignore weight class and increase the intake of calories for muscle/strength gains?

For your first few meets, yes, absolutely.

I’d probably limit protein to 200 grams, up carbs to 250 to 300 grams and keep fats below 70 grams.

Just in comparison I’m around 212 lbs and 23% bodyfat and I’ve been at 2700 calories per day for around four months now. Breakdown is currently 200+ grams protein, 90- grams fat and the rest carbs (usually 210-270 grams). Strength continues to improve along with body composition.

Composition has seen best improvements when I really started policing my fat intake to stay below 90 grams and adding carbs to fill in my allowance while keeping protein between 200 and 220 grams.

Thanks for the input. Should I aim for 2700 calories or less, sounds like less based on your weight compared to mine.

I’d look at it like this. Figure out your ballpark maintenance calorie window.

Generally you can use bodyweight x 17 as your top end and bodyweight x 14 as your bottom end. For you that would mean the window is 2500 to 3100 calories or so. I figure if you’re sitting at a higher bodyfat percentage, your maintenance will be closer to the bottom end.

If you’re looking to eventually go down to 15% - which is what I’m doing too - but obviously want to keep getting stronger you’re probably going to do better to commit to a long, slow recomp.

I’d set your calories at 2300, protein minimum 185 grams, fat maximum 70 grams and the rest carbs. Settle in for a long haul, but rest assured you should keep getting stronger while you lean out.

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Thanks again, thats the goal, I am in no rush to change. Ive tried before and failed. Slow works better for me, plus I like keeping my strength up. Hate going into the gym and not being able to hit at least the same as i hit the time before.

Any idea how long you think it could take? Id assume, something like a 100-200 calorie deficit to lose 10 lbs of fat would take something like this:

3500 cal for 1lb of fat
700-1400 defiicit per a week (assuming perfect diet)
2-4 weeks per lb of fat

sound reasonable?

I dropped about 1.5% bodyfat over the first three months with a less strict diet than I’ve had for the last month (just focusing on 2700 calories and 200+ grams of protein). This included the first month of really dialling the diet in, during which I often was closer to 2900 calories or more per day. I think I averaged about 2800 daily the first week, 2900 the second, 2800 the third and fourth or something until in week five it started to click what I needed to do.

So, if you get it right from day one I guess that’s reasonable. For me, I estimated around nine months or more to get to 15% (probably going to end up closer to a total of a year since I’m maybe five months in now and I’d guess still around 22.5 to 23.5%). Then probably another year to reestablish my body’s set point.

Just thought I’d add another perspective; personally I find a low carb high protein / fat (and high vegetable) diet by far the best for cutting fat and improving body composition.

I’d say stick to at least 150g of protein at all times as a minimum, but for a low carb approach 200+ is probably best, and as much as 300g / day works for some people.

Have a good quality protein source (egg, meat / fish, protein powder), at least one type of vegetable, and a decent amount of fat, for every meal, and build from there. Some milk and fruit is ok, and a couple of portions of starchy carbs too if you really feel you need it, but otherwise stick to this.

High carbohydrate / low fat diets can work, but they’re so much harder to manage and adjust; low/moderate carb diets almost always work. Something to think about… :+1:


Thanks for the perspective, i have been considering this or even a keto diet, but that seems extreme for where i am now. low carb seems more doable. i have a hard time making sure i eat enough fat that isnt all butter and cheese. I hate avocado or i would be able to get more good fats in. i always cook with olive oil or coconut oil if i use oil and usually have at least one portion of chicken and one of beef everyday so i get plenty of animal protein and fat in. i also have a medium/large portion of veggies with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

My biggest problem is finding a balance to keep from putting on fat but still gain in strength, not necessarily looking to put on weight, just not have strength affected by diet.

I also think it’s really, really important to constantly be auditing your diet and your results (ditto training-. A lot of the time I’ve found accidental changes have had drastically positive results - which I could have failed to correctly attribute had I not been keeping a close eye on what I was doing.

For example, until recently I was very much of the view @halcj1 has about low carb/high protein and fat and sceptical that higher carb, moderate protein and lower fat would work for me. That is, until I unwittingly took that approach for a few days, saw what appeared to be better results very quickly and then deliberately kept doing that for a couple of weeks to see if it really did help. Turns out it did, so I kept doing it.

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Yeah I know what you mean. The thing is, I’ve believed in the lower carb approach for years based on the theory and results of others, but nothing could convince me like trying it out and seeing the results of sticking with it consistently for 6+ months; without even being that strict I’ve dropped a weight class and completely changed my physique while maintaining strength (check my log for pics if interested).

I say try both and choose based on results, but if you want to go with the easiest method and forget about it I’d say stick with low-moderate carbs (Alpha on here is a popular advocate of this style of eating, again check the log section to read more).

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