Nutritional Requirements: CrossFit Athletes, Powerlifters vs. The General Population

What and How to Eat?!

When it comes to eating and propernutrition, should everyone be consuming the same things? The answer to this question is a resounding no. why? Because the needs of individuals vary greatly on a person to person basis, and other considerations must also be made.

For example, if your job requires you to be sitting at a desk close to 8 hours per day, you will definitely need less calories and carbohydrates than a professional athlete.

The meal plans of different types of athletes do vary by sport and activity. So depending on where you fit on the spectrum of activity and goals, you’ll need to modify your macros accordingly.

Consider these plans if you’re a crossfitter, powerlifter or just part of the general population.

SEE ALSO: The Main Supplements You Need On A Low Budget

General Population

To start off, maybe you’re not heavily invested in any particular sports discipline. You hit the gym a few times per week (hopefully!) and are in modest overall health. However, not because you occasionally work out does this mean that you get a free pass to eat what you like. Nope, you still need to be diligent about what you consume, or soon you are likely to be in less than ideal health.

Your Macros:

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re a man you need between 14 and 18 calories per pound consumed per day (2380-3060 calories per day for a 170lb man) and between 12-16 calories per pound if you’re a woman, and this is just for maintenance. These calories come from the primary macros, in the ratio of 30-50% carbs, 25-35% proteins, and 25-35% fats.

Meal Frequency

3 solid meals and 2 snacks suffice for the general population, with less carbs included in meals as the day progresses.


Powerlifters are the classic strength athletes of the world, seeking out to constantly increase their 1 rep max (or 1RM). As such, powerlifters lift immense amounts of weight, suffer more significant muscle damage than other athletes, and consume much more than average in order to facilitate rapid and significant increases in muscle recovery.

Powerlifters generally possess a softer shape, as their diet is primarily hyper-caloric, and contains high amounts of protein, fat and carbs.

Before we delve into what actual powerlifting nutrition includes, it is important to note that having whatever you like and as much as you want is not the way things get done. No, that is being a slob and using powerlifting as an excuse! Yes, you will not be seeking to achieve the low body fat levels of a bodybuilder or CrossFit athlete, but sheer strength and a body capable of surviving the loads.

Your Macros

Seeing that powerlifting goals can differ (from gaining weight, to training for a meet or reducing weight to meet a weight class), nutrition can vary a bit as well. One thing that is highly desirable, however, is to ensure protein intake is kept high year-round, modifying fat and carbs to achieve the goals.

As a general rule of thumb, a good protein intake to shoot for is 1.5g per pound of bodyweight (300g for a 200lb man), 0.5g fat per pound bodyweight (approximately 100g), and the remainder (aiming for 18calories per pound bodyweight) in carbs (which equals about 350g).

Carbs should not be reduced significantly, as this will definitely affect the ability of your muscles to perform effectively, and cause loss of strength.

Meal Frequency

Shoot for as many as 6-8 meals daily, spaced 2-3 hours apart during waking hours. Ensure each meal contains protein, some slow digesting carbs and a bit of fat. Chooseleaner cuts of meat, including fish, chicken and beef. For your carb sources, rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes do nicely. Fats can include avocados, coconut oil (MCTs), deep water fish, and flax seeds to snack on.

CrossFit Athletes

CrossFit training has taken the world by storm over the past decade or so, and with good reason. At its core, CrossFit seeks to improve your functional fitness by utilizing a range of movements all performed at high intensity. At its heart, it seeks to improve work capacity (intensity) for a longer period of time, buffering lactic acid with more efficiency.

Your Macros

The general consensus of the diet for CrossFitathletes is a macronutrient split of 40:30:30 (carb: fat: protein), and members often adopt either the paleo or zone diet. Regardless of which you choose, the basic tenet is to consume balanced nutrition, and not completely eliminateany group which would be detrimental to health and performance. Dieting can become a bit complicated especially if following the Zone Diet, as portions become “blocks”. These blocks are usually measured portions of food that are consumed at meal times. Block requirements vary by individual body size and activity level.

Meal Frequency

At a minimum, the CrossFitathlete needs to strive for 5 meals per day, with a carb heavy meal being consumed pre-workout to ensure sufficient fuel throughout. Veggies, fruits, rice, potatoes (preferably sweet potatoes) and a variety of lean meats are preferred food sources for the CrossFit athlete.

An Important Note About Carbs

Though the intake of carbs is a little more relaxed in athletes, care still needs to be taken to ensure consumption does not go overboard what is considered optimal. If your goal is primarily to build muscle, you will not get very far on a tightly restricted low carb diet. Carbs can be your best friend, or it can be your saboteur. To put this into perspective, consider this:

READ: The Amount of Protein Intake Needed After Workouts

  1. Protein should remain the mainstay of your diet, regardless of yourbody fat levels. If you possess more than double digit body fat levels, you should try to make fat your second most important macronutrient. If you possess even a slight degree of insulin resistance, it becomes all the more important.


  1. You need to work for your carbs! If you follow a low carb dieting approach for a short period of time, the body becomes better equipped at making ketones, which are alternative energy sources to replace carbs. The brain can function on ketones as well, although it is not as effective as glucose. However, for the vast majority of people, a solely glucose based energy metabolism is rarely needed, unless subject to regular high intensity activity.


  1. Grains are not for everyone, as quite a few people are gluten intolerant without even knowing it.



  1. Post-Workout carb intake is highly overrated, and in some cases unnecessary. In fact, even elite athletes need much less than the current recommendations. For example, the estimate for a 250lb obese man (approx. 30% body fat) is a staggering 160g over the 2 hour post workoutwindow, which is ridiculous by all standards. A better option for an obese (or insulin resistant) person is pure post workout whey consumption, which boosts muscle nutrient absorption via a mechanism separate from insulin (namely, the GLUT-4 transport system)


  1. Poor Quality carbs (high GI, sugary) are suppressive to androgen production, which delays recovery and suppresses anabolism. In addition, such carbs are deleterious on important micro-nutrient levels, such as Zinc, magnesium and certain B vitamins.




Across the board, the one major dietary consideration that needs to be made is increasing protein intake. If eating more meals is not for you, consuming more supplemental protein such as whey may be a good choice. Keep in mind that you may or may not get the best results from consuming a lot of carbs, but a good rule of thumb is the leaner, and more active you are, the more forgiving your carb intake will be.

READ: Eating With Your Fingers Is Way More Healthier! (Shown By Studies)

Eating goal specific nutrition is the number one way to improve your health, and performance both in the gym, and in everyday life.

This post was written by Alex Eriksson  – the founder of Anabolic Health, a men’s health blog dedicated to providing honest and research backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals. Check out to learn more about Alex and his work. You can also find him on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook

Written by Valentin Bosioc

Valentin Bosioc - wellness specialist, certified personal trainer, certified fitness instructor, celebrity trainer, Musclemania Champion, Ninja Warrior Semifinalist, world wide motivator!

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