5 Steps to Eating for Strength
Once you have established your strength training program, you can take your results to the next level by dialing in your eating habits. I get so sad when I see women working hard for results in the gym and cancelling out those efforts because of improper eating. Your time is sooooo precious and I want you to get the best results possible for your efforts.
There is so much confusion around how to eat. On several occasions I have found myself staring into my fridge thinking… “I have NO idea how or what to eat…” It’s terrible! While there are many different eating styles, you will be best served in your gym efforts if you follow a diet that supports your training style.
So today I have for you my top 5 steps to eating for results. These are tried and true, proven actions that I live and breathe by. If you are struggling to see results from your gym efforts, start using these 5 steps immediately. In as little as 10 days you will see the power of eating when it supports you.
5 Steps to Eating for Strength
- Do not go in empty. You wouldn’t take a Ferrari out on the freeway without gas and oil and expect it run properly. So why would it make sense to take your body out for a spin without fuel? The point of a workout is to challenge your body, push the limits, and work hard. In order to do that effectively, you must have fuel to run on. An athlete would never go in for a workout or a competition on empty, and neither should you. When you are fueled you will have better energy to dedicate to your workout. Your body will find ways to fuel physical activity. If you do not give it something to run on, it will be forced to find energy from your muscles and liver. People mistakingly think that a workout on empty means that they will burn more fat. However, this only occurs in individuals who spend months and years teaching their body to burn fat as a primary fuel. And that’s a very, very, small group of individuals.
- Refuel after your workout. In a similar manner to above, your body needs fuel to begin recovery. Your workouts are only as good as your recovery, and your recovery begins as soon as your workout ends! Proper refueling after today’s workout means a better workout tomorrow. What you do after your workouts very much influences how well you “perform” in the days following. Your body is very smart and will find the fuel it needs to keep itself repaired. If you do not provide it with the fuel it needs it will be forced to get creative. This often means that recovery will stall and you will be left with chronically taxed muscles. After a challenging workout there is a window where your body will prioritize calories for recovery. Eating within this “golden hour” allows more calories to be used for fuel rather than stored as fat. While some experts say you have 60 minutes after a workout to effectively refuel, I say “why wait?” Eat as soon as possible after your workouts!
- Don’t go longer than four hours without a meal or snack. All kinds of trouble begins when your blood sugar drops below the ideal levels needed for brain and organ function. In fact, when your blood sugar drops, you automatically go into a fat storing mode. Stable blood sugar means that your body will burn more calories from fat, rather than storing them. Because of estrogen, women have a harder time keeping blood sugar levels stable. I believe this is the biggest reason why so many women have cravings. Keep your blood sugar stable by eating a meal or snack every 3 1/2 or 4 hours.
- Emphasize fruits and vegetables. I know, I know, you’re probably tired of hearing this. But here’s the deal: fresh, colorful plants are the wellspring of life. They have powerful properties that help your body in ways beyond simply nutrition. Most fruits and vegetables truly are superfoods. When you are challenging your body in the gym, you need additional nutrition in order to build muscle, break down fat, and repair the “stress” from exercise. Dark leafy greens and deep colored fruits hold magical powers to speed up your progress. Do yourself the favor.
- Use caffeine strategically. Alright, if you know me well, you know that this is my favorite tip of all. When managed properly, and used strategically, caffeine is brilliant around workouts. In fact, the IOC (Olympic Committee) caps how much caffeine can be present in athletes prior to competition. Why? Because it is a performance aid and the athletes know it! Caffeine reduces the perception of discomfort, allowing you to challenge yourself more. It also frees up fatty acids to be used during your workout as fuel, and preserves muscle and liver glycogen. Certainly, if you are sensitive to caffeine this is not a great tool for you. But if you can tolerate caffeine, try having your cup of coffee 60 minutes prior to your workout. You can also use green tea for afternoon workouts, or if you want to test your caffeine sensitivity.
Check out this video for even more tools for eating for strength:
I’d love to hear from you. What are your go-to snacks for fueling up before workouts? Have you tried using caffeine prior to your strength sessions? Or, tell me if these 5 tips were helpful. Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!
I have an important question…my gym (planet fitness) does NOT have any barbells…they are the fixed machinery type..how can I do the overhead barbell press using these machines? Also, the leg press machine is different. The footplate is stationary, and my body moves up and down…and the leg curl machine, curls underneath my body. You cannot lay on your stomach and curl over your butt. You are actually sitting, and curling your legs under your butt…are these methods exactly the same as her recommendations just set up differently??
Hi Stacey! There should be a machine called Overhead Press or Military Press that you can used to sub for the barbell move. The Upright Seated Leg Curl is one of my favs and is a great sub for the laying Leg Curl. Leg Press is just fine even though your body is moving, rather than the foot sled. These all will work for you, they are just a bit different and that’s ok! Keep us posted!!
I usually have an apple with almond butter before I head out for 6am Bootcamp.
Thank you for these 5 tips!
You are so welcome, and so glad you are fueling your workouts.