There are innumerable pros when it comes to weight training and it’s not just beneficial for those who want to bulk up. It can be really helpful for those who are trying to lose weight or simply tone up, and what you eat, as well as the time at which you eat it, can greatly impact your performance and progression.
Here’s Training and Nutrition Specialist David Wiener’s guide to the best foods you can eat to make sure you’re really getting the most from your work at the power rack:
1. Chicken Breast
Skinless chicken breast is a fantastic source of lean protein, and protein is especially important when you’re weight training. This is because during strength training, you’re effectively breaking your muscles down and then letting them repair and adapt to becoming bigger and stronger, as well as more efficient. Chicken breast also contains generous amounts of B vitamins which help your body function properly during physical activity for optimal muscle gain.
Many focus on protein and carbs when it comes to replenishing and repairing the body following a tough session at the gym, but vitamins and minerals are just as important. Eggs, especially the yolks, contain lots of important vitamins, such as Vitamin B12, B6 and A. Eggs also contain many vital minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc and copper.
3. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese contains a high concentration of the amino acid, glutamine, which is great for aiding muscle recovery after a workout. As a source of protein, cottage cheese is made predominantly from casein, which digests at a very slow rate in the body, making it a great source of protein to eat prior to sleep. Cottage cheese is also light on the stomach, less fattening than hard cheese and also contains more water to help rehydrate the body. In addition, cottage cheese is also rich in calcium which helps to strengthen your bones and reduces the risk of fracture, which is especially important when you’re active and regularly lifting heavy weights.
4. Sweet potato
Sweet potato is a great source of complex carbohydrates. Low on the glycaemic index, they’re therefore also a great source of sustainable energy. Moreover, sweet potatoes are rich in fibre, helping your body process the sugars, resulting in a steady supply of energy, for longer periods. Eating sweet potatoes after a workout is ideal as they contain copper, which can help maintain healthy muscle tissue and to replenish energy levels. Sweet potatoes also contain Vitamin C which helps to prevent muscle catabolism or the breakdown of muscles.
Bananas are a fantastic healthy source of carbohydrates and contain sugar and starch, which act as fast fuel for the body, helping you to stay active for longer. These sugars break down into glycogen which fuels your muscles and boosts your energy levels. Bananas are also rich in potassium and magnesium. After a tough workout, when these mineral levels have dropped, it’s important to replenish them, and that’s when eating a banana can really help. Post workout, your blood sugar levels will have also dropped and these too can be replenished by eating a banana, or drinking a post-workout smoothie containing this versatile ingredient.
Nutrition for weight training goes far beyond protein shakes and egg whites. Keeping your diet balanced and vitamin and protein-rich will ensure that you optimize your weight training, whether you’re squatting 20kg or 200kg.