Strength training programs are designed with a strict routine and pattern to promote muscle strength and growth. One of the most important and commonly overlooked components to an effective strength training program is a proper diet. Diets for strength include a variety of carbohydrates, protein, fat and supplements that can improve strength gains. The best diets for strength, however, can be personalized to match the individual requirements.
Carbohydrates are one of the most important macronutrients because they supply energy and fuel for the muscles during workouts. During training, the body converts glycogen stored in the muscles to a usable form of energy. As the duration and intensity of the workouts increase, the amount of glycogen required also increases. As a result, the best diets for strength will supply carbohydrates that replace the glycogen stores after a workout. Consume about 3g to 4g of complex and simple carbohydrates per pound of body weight throughout the day.
Protein is composed of amino acids that are considered the building blocks of muscle. For strength training workouts, protein provides the nutrients needed for an increase in strength. Protein sources can come from a variety of foods including lean red beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, dairy products or fish. Consume about 0.6g to 0.8g of protein per pound of bodyweight throughout the day. For example, a 200-lb. male will require about 120g to 160g of protein. Exceeding these amounts won’t increase strength gains.
The best diets for strength incorporate adequate amounts of water and drinks to stay properly hydrated. Consuming fluids throughout the day allows your body to perform at a consistent level throughout the day. Drink 2 to 3 cups of water at least two to three hours before training and then consume another cup of water about 10 to 20 minutes before the workout. After a strength training workout, the water lost due to sweat will need to be replaced. Drink 4 to 8 oz. of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes during a workout and then another 16 oz. after the workout. Sports drinks can also be consumed after a workout to replenish electrolytes.
Supplements can provide the additional vitamins, minerals and nutrients that can’t be consumed with the normal every day diet. You can personalize the strength diet by choosing from a wide variety of supplements to match your strengths and weaknesses. According to Jeff Feliciano from GetBig.com, some of the best supplements for strength gains include creatine and whey protein. Creatine is found naturally in muscle fibers, but supplementation provides additional creatine that can improve strength and power. Whey protein supplements are commonly used for post-workout nutrition to supply additional amounts of protein.
Diets for strength include five to six small meals spread evenly throughout the day with a post-workout shake. Consume a meal every three to four hours to maintain a consistent flow of energy so your body doesn’t start to breakdown muscle for energy. Post-workout nutrition needs to be consumed within 30 minutes of the workout to maximize absorption and the ability to repair and rebuild muscle and tissue.