What Should You Eat to Maximise the Benefits of Resistance Training?

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Resistance training can be extremely good for your health. When it comes to resistance training, what you eat is just as important as the exercises themselves. Your diet can either help or hinder your progress, depending on the types of foods you choose. Eating the right foods will provide your muscles with the essential nutrients they need to repair and grow after a workout, while bad food choices can lead to reduced strength gains and slower recovery. In this article, we’ll discuss what you should eat to maximise the benefits of resistance training.

First off, let’s talk about protein.

Protein is an essential nutrient for muscle building and repair because it contains amino acids that are used by the body to build new muscle fibers. To get the most out of resistance training, aim for at least 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. This may mean eating more high-protein foods such as lean meats (like chicken breast or turkey), fish, eggs and dairy products like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. Plant-based proteins like tofu and beans are also good sources of protein for those looking for vegetarian options.

Next up is carbohydrates.

Carbs are your body’s main source of energy during exercise and therefore play a key role in improving performance during resistance training sessions. Aim for about 2-3 grams of carbs per pound of body weight each day from complex sources such as whole grain breads and pastas, quinoa, oats, sweet potatoes and other starchy vegetables like corn or peas. Consuming some carbs shortly before a workout will give you an extra boost in energy levels so that you can perform at your best when lifting weights. But wait! Full disclosure here: I chose the keto lifestyle, which means I eat very few carbs (less than 20g per day). I am not a keto-hardliner, so I don’t mind offering the above advice, which is really for people who eat a balanced diet across all the macronutrient spectrum.

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The last macronutrient we’ll discuss is fat – yes fat!

Contrary to popular belief, not all fats are bad; some can actually be beneficial for optimising performance during resistance training sessions as they provide slow-burning fuel that helps maintain energy levels throughout a workout session (especially if it’s longer than 45 minutes). Healthy fats like those found in nuts and seeds, avocados, olive oil, nut butters and fatty fish (like salmon) are great sources of healthy fat that should be consumed each day alongside your other meals.

Now let’s look at some sample meal plans for optimal performance during resistance training.

Example menu choices.

  • For breakfast: Start with a bowl of oatmeal with chopped nuts or seeds sprinkled on top plus a side of scrambled eggs cooked in olive oil or avocado slices drizzled with lemon juice. Alternatively, have some Greek yogurt topped with fresh berries, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, honey, etc.
  • For lunch: Try having grilled chicken breast served over brown rice accompanied by roasted broccoli and carrots.
  • For dinner: Enjoy a plate full of grilled salmon with steamed quinoa on the side along with roasted Brussels sprouts. Finish it off with some dark chocolate pieces if you want something sweet afterwards!

Lastly, if you snack throughout the day — aim for snacks that contain both protein and carbohydrates such as trail mix (nuts and dried fruit), low-fat string cheese and whole grain crackers, Greek yogurt & fresh fruit or hummus and pita chips. Or take a look at these great keto snacks you can make at home.

By following these tips — i.e., eating enough protein, consuming adequate carbohydrates pre/during/post workouts and including healthy fats into meals — you’ll be able to maximize the benefits from your resistance training sessions while providing your body with all essential nutrients it needs to repair and rebuild muscles effectively.

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