What should I eat if I am regularly strength training?

Proper nutrition is an important part of any fitness regiment. What you eat influences your performance, and so can when you eat. You should try to always eat a healthy breakfast and avoid eating any large meal right before you work out. Adequate blood sugar levels are crucial to a good work out. This is why sports nutrition often concentrates on carbohydrate intake. Remember that protein is needed to repair muscles and may be beneficial if eaten after a workout.

During Strength training your metabolism will increase as your body will crave more calories to maintain the developing muscle fibers you are building. It is recommended that your diet should consist of approximately 50-65% carbohydrates, 20-30% proteins, and keep your fats (not including omega 6 and healthy fats) at about 10-20%.  Consuming a high fiber diet will increase your body's feeling of the "full" sensation while maintaing cardiovascular health. Remember to eat carbohydrates regularly and at the begining of the day to enhance your body's fuel source. Remember, your body does not burn fat during activity. It burns fat during rest and sleep. During activity, such as strength training your body needs carbohydrates as its fuel source.
If you regularly strength train you should definitely have a balanced diet. Since you are regularly strength training (whether for general fitness, or bodybuilding) that means your muscles are getting microtrauma which is tiny damage to the fibres in the muscle. When microtrauma occurs (from weight training or other strenuous activities), the body responds by overcompensating, replacing the damaged tissue and adding more, so that the risk of repeat damage is reduced.

This means that depending on your intensity of weight training you should be getting adequate amounts of protien.

To Calculate Your Protein Needs:

1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg
2. Weight in kg x (0.8-1.8 gm/kg) = protein gm.

Use a lower number if you are in good health and usually do not do strenous activity (i.e., 0.8). Use a higher number (between 1 and 1.8) if you are under stress, are pregnant, are recovering from an illness, or if you are involved in consistent and intense weight or endurance training.

 

In addition, make sure complex carbohydrates are on your plate and good fats such as olive oil, flax, avacados.

You should be eating lots of plant-based whole foods, and skipping foods that are highly processed or have added fat to them.  Choose a rainbow of colors from fruits, veggies, legumes and grains.  If you are not aiming for weight-loss small quantities of nuts are fine too. 

Green leafy veggies are the most nutrient dense food, so try to get them in 3x a day.  I like spinach or kale in my breakfast smoothie (which is also a great way to get in a tablespoon of flax seed), kale chips for a snack, and a salad with lunch and dinner. 

If you are strength training, you are burning calories, so don't forget to eat.  Even if weight-loss is your goal, aim for 5-6 small meals a day, don't starve yourself.  The body runs on complex carbs, so think potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, brown rice, millet, quinoa etc, and stay away from the white carbs (white pasta, white rice, white bread, cakes and cookies).  Potatoes get a bad rap, but it's really just the company that they keep.  Top your potato with some black bean soup, or salsa and it's a healthy low-cal, low-fat meal.

If you are regularly strength training, it is important you maintain a well-balanced diet. Make sure you are ingesting plenty of protein so your body has the adequate nutrients it needs to repair and lay the foundation for additional lean body mass.  Athletes should consume between 0.8-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to allow for adequate muscle recovery and growth.

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Strength training requires more protein than other exercises, but, unless you're an elite athlete, you probably get enough protein in your everyday diet as it is. However, research suggests that when you get your protein may be key in how quickly you amass muscle. Grab a meal with protein right after your workout and you may benefit from a greater increase in muscle mass than if you wait a few hours.

In addition, you'll need an adequate amount of carbs to make it through that final set. And don't forget some healthy fats to round out your diet.

Water Needs: To avoid painful muscle aches the next day, be sure to replenish any fluids lost. Muscle aches are caused, in part, by excessive water loss through perspiration.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.