It’s one thing to follow a diet for weight loss or muscle gain…but it is completely different when you are an athlete or individual training for power and/or strength. If you fall into that category, your nutrition is critical. Even if you’re not an athlete, but you are working to get as strong as you can, how you structure your diet is tremendously important.
But, why? Can’t you just eat a ton of calories and lift heavy? Yes… but it’s not that simple.
Importance of Carbs
If your goal is to gain power or strength, you must be eating in a calorie surplus. So yes, eating a mass number of calories is part of the plan, but where your calories come from is very important. If most of your calories are coming from carbohydrate-heavy foods, it’s very likely you will be gaining more body fat than strength. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to avoid carbs… When you’re training for power and strength, it is important to have adequate carbs. Consuming 2.3-3.6 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight has been found to be ideal. This ensures you aren’t overdoing it with your carb intake but eating enough to fuel your body.
If there was only one piece of advice to share with someone looking to gain power/strength, it would be this: You must be consuming a high protein diet. Protein is the key building block to growing muscle. If you aren’t eating enough protein, you're going to struggle to gain muscle mass. If anything, you will lose some muscle. Studies show that 0.5-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is ideal.
Before we talk about actual macronutrient breakdowns, let’s summarize:
- You should be eating in a calorie surplus
- A high protein diet is most optimal
- Consume an adequate amount of carbs
Here’s a good breakdown to use if you don’t know how to figure out your macro goals.
At the end of the day, you must figure out what works for you. Lifting heavy weights and eating enough protein will only be a few elements in your overall journey to fitness success. One of the most overlooked tips to success is prioritizing sleep. Getting enough sleep each night helps your muscles recover faster. When you go through an intense workout, your body repairs itself during your sleep. If you are not sleeping enough, your body will not produce its own muscle-building hormones.
Prioritizing sleep will give you better outcomes in your resistance training and nutrition. You’ll have more energy during the day, less cravings for processed foods and a better mood overall.