One of my biggest pet peeves as a throws coach is this prevailing idea that throwers can just eat whatever they want, whenever they want. Anyone is welcome to do this, but they should be ok with looking fat and unathletic, as well as training and competing poorly. It’s not productive for throwing or from a health perspective to eat with no plan and no focus on proper nutrition. Proper nutrition is important for all athletes, and it is one of the easiest ways to make huge gains!
Generally, throwers want to build as much lean muscle mass as possible, and should also be comfortable carrying a little extra fat. I usually think 12%-17% bodyfat is an acceptable level for men, and 20%-25% is an acceptable range for women. Those upper percentages are an absolute ceiling for me, however. All you have to do to understand these ranges is look at the dominant throwers in the world in many disciplines (Ryan Crouser, Maggie Ewen, Sandra Perkovic, Tom Walsh) and see that they are carrying some extra weight, but they are still generally fairly lean and retain a lot of athleticism.
As far as nutritional cues, I usually start by telling throwers that men should be eating 3500-5000 calories each day, and for women the range will be slightly lower, with 3500 calories being ample. I strongly suggest reaching 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight, so if I have a 275lb. athlete, I expect them to be getting around 275 grams of protein each day. At an elite level, you’ll probably be spending an hour and a half per day throwing, with an hour and a half weightlifting and ideally, 30 minutes of yoga/recovery time. That is a ton of activity that will require the body to be recovering very well, and from a nutritional standpoint, that recovery will be driven primarily by protein intake.
Next, we need to remember to focus on having the bulk of our daily calories in the form of good, wholesome food. Taking the time to prepare a good meal several times a day will not only improve the quality of the nutrients that you put into your body, but will also give you much more control over the amount of macronutrients you’re taking in. Try as much as you can to feed yourself real food sources of protein, good animal fats, whole carbohydrate sources, and you will find improvements just from the higher quality of food. Obviously, this means as little junk food as possible! Since throwers aren’t figure competitors, there is no need to completely cut out a cheat meal here and there, as long as the cheating is controlled and planned. Take time at the beginning of the month to think about 1-2 times that you can break from your quality nutritional planning. This planning will stop you from telling yourself each night, “it’s ok if I have one or two cookies, I’m a thrower.”
The final piece of the puzzle is supplements. These are at the bottom of the article because, relative to the other points, supplements should be your final focus. Once you’re hitting your caloric and macronutrient goals with whole foods and minimal junk food, then you can turn to clean, quality supplements to help fill in the cracks. If you can identify particular mineral deficiencies, or you just need to add an extra shake to help recovery, then try to seek out the most reputable supplement company you can (Earth Fed Muscle) and use their products to help round out your nutritional picture. Don’t waste all of the effort you spent making sure your food is quality just to have bad supplements. Take responsibility and inform yourself and choose wisely.