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Performance Nutritionist Simon Jurkiw On Tracking Macros And The Role Of Supplements

We had a chat with Simon Jurkiw, the commercial director at Bulk Powders who's also a performance nutritionist and powerlifter

Simon Jurkiw
Performance Nutritionist Simon Jurkiw (Photo: Bulk Powders)

Simon Jurkiw is commercial director at Bulk Powders, and is also a performance nutritionist and powerlifter.

Bulk Powders are known as one of the biggest names in the sports nutrition and supplement industry in the UK.

We had a chat with Simon, who has a background in powerlifting and bodybuilding, to discuss some of the key building blocks of his nutritional philosophy.

Could you tell us a little bit about your background story and how you got into your role as a performance nutritionist?

I’ve always been interested in exercise and nutrition; I swum competitively from a young age and played a variety of other sports. My work experience at 15 was in a local gym, and I’ve been involved in bodybuilding and powerlifting ever since.

Nutrition is a cornerstone of bodybuilding and also powerlifting, especially when making weight.

Academically, I studied Exercise Science at Undergraduate and Exercise & Nutrition Science at Postgraduate level. Over time, the practical interest in sport and the academic side merged together.

I started working for MaxiNutrition after university and soon led the performance nutrition side with an array of different sports teams and individuals.

That moved on to individual work with different athletes, primarily boxing and ultra-endurance challenges. My own practical experience making weight for powerlifting comps helped when working with athletes from other sports.

How do you integrate your knowledge as a nutritionist into your role at Bulk Powders?

Our product philosophy at Bulk Powders is to have the highest standards when it comes to product formulations, taste and ingredient quality.

A practical knowledge of what athletes/sportspeople need and what they look for within products transfers perfectly to my role. For example, different sweetness profiles can be employed depending on the type of product.

Practically, that could be an endurance athlete not wanting an overly sweet recovery drink after a hard interval session. I feel that I bring a strong balance of practical and theoretical knowledge to the party.

What are some key nutrition concepts for those looking to build muscle through lifting weights?

Assuming the training side is taken care of, the main nutritional areas of focus to build muscle are:

• Adequate calories
• Adequate protein
• Optimal recovery
• Increasing training intensity (to create overload)
• Optimising hormonal environment

Nutrition can be used to focus on all of these areas to maximise muscle gain.

For someone who is looking to improve their nutrition for optimal performance, where is a good place to start?

Like training, it’s important to ascertain what your nutritional weaknesses or deficiencies are. A good place to start is a three or four-day food diary.

Assuming a reasonable base level of nutritional knowledge, that allows you to identify gaps such as inadequate protein, poor fluid intake or lack of fruit and vegetables.

Do you think it’s important to track macros/calories all the time?

Good question! This sounds like a fence sitting answer, but it depends on the person. For some, they will find tracking macros/calories laborious and will soon fall off the wagon. For others, especially those who are driven by numbers, having a specific number to hit is motivational and they enjoy tracking it.

Ultimately, my philosophy is that it’s all about adherence rather than what is necessarily ‘best.’

It’s better to do something that’s 90 per cent effective, 90 per cent of the time rather than 100 per cent effective, 10 per cent of the time.

In this example, if tracking isn’t for you then aim to do it for a small period, such as a fortnight, to get an idea of what you’re eating. It’s less daunting than thinking you’re doing this forever.

Generally, we’re creatures of habit and eat broadly similar foods throughout a week (hence the need for a three or four-day food diary rather than much longer).

If you’re familiar with the nutritional value of your typical food choices, you can up/downscale portion sizes accordingly without specifically tracking.

Supplement bottle

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

How do supplements fit into your nutritional philosophy?

Supplements are there to complement a healthy, balanced diet. Supplements have a myriad of benefits, from providing high quality nutrition to adding specific nutrients, such as Creatine, to enhance performance.

Personally, I use and recommend an array of different supplements depending what the gaps are in my/athletes diet.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self if you could go back knowing what you know now?

I’d love to be able to do that! My main piece of advice would be to eat more, but then that’s specific to my goal of gaining muscle.

I was training hard but, looking back, I wasn’t eating enough. At 18, my recovery was great (certainly better than it is at 40!) and the hormonal environment was pretty decent as well!

However, I don’t think I really took advantage of that. I was boxing, playing football and also doing a lot of gym/strength work. My calorie expenditure was massive and my weight gain was slow.

It wasn’t until I really ramped up my calories in my early twenties that I started making decent ‘gains.’ Realistically, I wasted a few years. Thanks for reminding me of that!

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