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Nutrition for Strength Training

As with so many other fitness activities, strength training is about more than just throwing some weights on a bar and lifting. Truly effective strength training also relies on a healthy nutrition plan and appropriate pre- and post-workout fuel, all designed to maximize results. Restricting foods and cutting calories are not recommended during strength training to ensure the body continues to get adequate nutrition to function and prosper with resistive activities. Consuming whole and unprocessed food is highly recommended over prepared and packaged food and supplements.

The best nutrition program, overall, to support a strength-training program includes the following:

Carbohydrates: 6 to 10 grams per kilogram of body weight (2.7 to 4.5 grams per pound of body weight). Carbohydrates maintain blood glucose levels during exercise and replace muscle glycogen. Personal carbohydrate requirements vary based upon the intensity and length of workouts as well as body size, sex and even environmental conditions. Carbohydrates are essential to brain and muscle function.

Protein: 4 to 20 grams per kilogram of body weight (0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight). These recommended protein intakes can generally be met through diet alone, without the use of protein or amino acid supplements. Simply by combining both plant and animal based proteins in your meals throughout the day. Protein is essential to maintaining and gaining muscle tissue.

Fat: 20 to 35 percent of total energy intake. It can often be tempting to drop below this level in the quest for improved results; however, consuming less than 20 percent of energy from fat does not benefit performance. It’s important to stress the importance of total nutrition for optimal results. Combining unprocessed animal and plant derived fats provides the most nutrition for the body. Fat is essential to brain, muscle, hormone and nerve function.

Hydration: Adequate fluid intake before, during and after exercise is important for health and optimal performance. Dehydration decreases exercise performance. In the hours after exercise, clients should aim for approximately 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound (0.5 kg) of body weight lost during exercise to replenish fluids. Adequate hydration ensures the cells of the body can remove waste and function properly.

As with other training programs, fueling up in the hours prior to strength training is essential to an effective session. The goal of this small meal is to boost energy for the training itself as well as to prime the body for faster recovery after the workout.

Nutrient Dense and High in Fat Breakfast Sandwich Example:

  • 2 slices Thick Cut Uncured Bacon
  • 1-2 Eggs fried or scrambled
  • 2oz Mozzarella slices
  • 2 slices Whole Grain/Flax Seed Bread or whole bagel (more protein than bread)
  • Grass fed butter for the bread/bagel