The Role of Nutrition in Strength Training – Science & Practical Tips
You probably have no doubt that diet and fitness go hand in hand. Although, nutrition strategies vary from person to person because everyone is unique with different needs. The diet of a bodybuilder or a competitive athlete is different from someone who is just working out for general health or to reach modest health goals (which, like us, is probably where you are!). Wherever you are on the fitness spectrum, your diet directly impacts your physical and mental wellbeing. Let’s see how!
The Connection Between Nutrition & Working Out
Eating a good diet can significantly help with your performance in the gym. In fact, a good diet is essential for reaching your physical goals! A good diet can help give you the energy you need to get through a workout, and the proper nutrition to recover afterwards.
Scientifically speaking, strength training leaves your body in a negative balance of protein because of an increase in protein synthesis and protein breakdown during exercise. Luckily, there are ways you can eat both before and after a workout to help your body with this change.
Pre & Post Workout Nutrition Tips
One tip to get started is to focus on the quality and quantity of your food. (Not only does the amount of food you eat matter, but the quality of it matters also!) For this, you will want to focus on portion sizes, eating for your body type and eliminating nutrient deficiencies. For example, focus on eating minimally processed fruits and veggies, quality carbs, correct portion sizes for your body size and eating slowly until you are full to avoid overeating.
Before your workouts you’ll want to focus on eating something that gives you sustained energy and hydration, and helps to preserve muscle mass and aid in recovery. Realistically, this looks like eating high quality protein, carbs and fats 2-3 hours before exercising. If you can’t get a good meal in then, opt for a more liquid “snack” like a protein smoothie with veggies, fruit and fats about an hour before. Remember to eat far enough in advance to allow your body to digest it! Post workout, focus on eating foods that help you to recover, rehydrate, refuel and build muscle (think back to what happens to the protein in your body when you exercise!). Aim to eat a more protein-heavy meal 1-2 hours after a workout to help aid with this.
Nutrition & Mental Health
Nutrition is not only important in relation to your physical health, but your mental health as well. There are so many factors that go into your mental health, and nutrition only plays one part. Things like stress management, exercise, sleep, socializing, etc. are also crucial for a healthy mental (and physical) well-being. On top of this, there are so many different nutrients from different foods that impact your emotional and mental health. The link between nutrition and mental health is rather complex, unfortunately there isn’t a magic potion that will give you permanent happiness. It is worth checking out and implementing in your diet, though! Check out this infographic from Precision Nutrition for some more info on how nutrition can impact your mental health, and for some practical tips on how to begin navigating that.
This is just scratching the surface of the connection between nutrition and strength training. For more information or for more personalized help, check out our nutritional coaching services on our website. We also have a FREE nutrition guide on our website to help you get started!
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