Being healthy isn’t all about what you do in the gym, on the court, on the field, or on a mat. If you’re working towards a goal, nutrition can be the key to success.
Women’s Health Week continues with some nutrition tips and meal ideas from Jennifer Lyn Thompson, a busy wife and mother who also happens to hold 20 national powerlifting titles.
Let’s face it, we all have busy lives. Some are busier than others, but we can all justify not having enough time for proper training and nutrition. As a mother of two lively boys, a part-time high school teacher, USA Powerlifting North Carolina State Chair, Iron Sisters USA presenter and eight-time IPF World Powerlifting Champion, I can relate. It has taken me years to fine tune my training and nutrition regime and really that’s what it is: finding a system that works with your lifestyle.
Only in the last few years have I really zoned in on my nutrition. I spent most of my 30s adjusting my carbs and protein to make my weight fluctuate up or down depending on where I was in my training cycle. I have found that if I am heavier in the beginning of my competition training I am able to generate more strength, because let’s be honest: weight pushes weight. As I got closer to the competition I would start decreasing my carbs and increasing my protein. By two weeks before my competition I would be on a handful of carbs daily.
On a diet of “barely there” carbohydrates I would start to drag during my last two weeks of training. These two weeks are probably some of the most important and I was lacking energy due to the low-carb intake. My weight was going down like I needed it to, but my workouts were suffering. It was at this point that I thought, there has to be a better way… and there is.
I reached out to sports nutritionist, Paul Revelia of Pro Physique, recommended by a former IPF World Team teammate, Layne Norton. He had me track my diet through an app called My Macros to see how much protein, carbohydrates and fat grams I was eating daily. My protein was right on: at 137 lbs. body weight I was getting 160-180 grams of protein in daily. However, my fats were off the charts high. I was getting in about 100-120 grams of fat and I found that it needed to be half of that. By decreasing my fats, but increasing my carbs, I was able to generate a diet that gave me energy and still maintained my weight. This began my journey of understanding foods and their nutrient contents.
When changing your diet it takes time and investigation. Unfortunately, many of us find these in short supply. I had a hard time finding foods that would fit into my prescribed amount of macros (protein, carbs, and fat). I am also not a very good cook, so I had to find simple and easy meals that worked for me. I have listed my “go-to” meals below.
Snacks: Power Crunch Protein Energy Bar, Stoneyfield Plain Yogurt (add Truvia) with ¼ protein granola, MHP Power Pak Protein Pudding (I love the vanilla), Simply True Organic Popcorn, Lorissa’s Chicken Jerky, Blue Almond Artisan Crackers, Rice crackers, Simply Pop, Protein Shake (I will often have a shake between lunch and dinner)
When snacking it is important to take out how many of the items you are going to eat and put the rest away. It is easy to overeat when eating out of a box.
Breakfast: Must start with a protein shake.
Lunch: Egg whites with veggies and cheese, protein oatmeal (Proti Brown Sugar Maple) or make your own at MyOatmeal.com. Roll up some smoked turkey and cheese (more turkey than cheese to decrease fat intake). Crab cakes (from grocery store – love them!). Tuna or chicken salad with a few crackers.
Dinner: Grilled chicken with fresh guacamole or hummus, broiled salmon, buffalo burger without bun, buffalo meat spaghetti with protein noodles, chicken sausage. I eat all my meals with a small garden salad with fat-free salad dressing. I try to stick to high protein, low-fat meals. If you stick with poultry or buffalo it is pretty easy to achieve and then limit the carbs.
Another important tip, especially when going out to eat, is to portion your meals. Don’t put more on the plate than you should eat. When we go out to eat I separate my food onto two sides of the plate, one I eat and one I take home.
Once I found a group of foods that worked in my daily diet, I didn’t have to track macros as often. I try to get more carbs on a leg day, but other than that I stick to a lot of the same foods. Once you can get yourself into an eating routine, it is easy to maintain and you don’t have as many cravings. Then it is alright to have a glass of wine or dessert here and there. The most important part of nutrition is finding foods that work in your busy life and that you enjoy eating.
More about Jen:
Jennifer Thompson is originally from Rochester, Michigan, but has lived in Denver, North Carolina for the past 20 years. She started competing in powerlifting in 1999 and is now the World Classic Bench Press Record Holder, the World Classic Powerlifting Record Holder, the five-time IPF World Bench Press Champion and the three-time IPF Classic World Powerlifting Champion. She has broken 39 Open and Master’s World Records and holds 20 Open National Titles.
Jen has been married to her coach and husband, Donovan Thompson, for 20 years. They have two boys, Tucker (13) and Brody (11). Keep up with their life on Jen’s two YouTube channels: 132 Pounds of Power and Thompson’s Gym.