Healthy eating habits/Fuelling for Weight Training
This page provides some simple tips and acts as a guide for those who are interested in nutrition and weight training. A lot of this information has been adopted in conjunction with the Sports Dietitians of Australia (SDA) and hopes to further maximize your training and performance objectives, whilst hopefully bridging some of your current knowledge gaps in the area of food and exercise.
The combination of an energy rich diet with adequate protein is necessary to provide your body with the appropriate building blocks for increased muscle mass. Gaining muscle and losing fat have mutually exclusive goals; to promote 'gains' the body needs to be in a positive energy balance, meaning your dietary intake exceeds the bodies physical requirements, whereas effective fat loss demands a reduction in energy intake.
Carbohydrates (CHO) are the preferred energy source for the body. When consumed, they are broken down into glucose in the blood stream. Our muscles then utilize glucose as their energy source for performance.
Protein is essential for the body as it is the building block for the production of skeletal muscle. Protein is metabolized into individual amino acids, which serve as both a substrate for building other dietary proteins as well as a trigger for activating various metabolic processes (ex. stimulating muscle protein synthesis). There are both essential and non-essential amino acids - essential meaning the amino acids are unable to be synthesized (created) by the body, and therefore must be included in the diet.
Fat is an important part of a balanced diet, however it is very high in energy (kilojoules) and consuming too much can lead to weight gain in the form of adipose tissue (fat).
The SDA recommends just 20-30g of carbohydrate and 10-20g of protein to be ingested around training to influence lean muscle mass gains. A snack with a good mix of protein and carbohydrate should be consumed as a pre-training snack 2–3 hours prior to weight training, whilst a similar post-training meal following training should be ingested (within 1 hour if possible).
Where's the evidence?
People often have the misconception that if they eat more protein, they will simply gain more muscle; this is obviously not the case. A study by Areta (2013) compared the intakes of different amounts of protein (10g, 20g, 40g) post training and their effect on the rate of muscle synthesis. The study revealed that 20g of protein (whey) provided the body with the optimal amount of dietary protein for peak muscle synthesis, which is consistent with current literature. Current literature also reveals that overall muscle protein synthesis is enhanced by the intake of a small amount of carbohydrates- this is why often a lot of weight gainers/protein powders will contain a decent amount of CHO.
Nutrition requirements will differ between every individual based on genetics, activity levels, and a range of other parameters. A full and comprehensive individual assessment of your diet can be performed by an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD)- you can find your local dietitian at Dietitians Association of Australia
Pre and Post training Snack Options
High Protein + CHO snacks
Chicken (100g) 30g Protein
Salmon (100g) 24g Protein
Eggs (2 large) 16g Protein
Banana (1 large) 24g CHO
Apple (1 large) 12g CHO
Rice (1 cup cooked) 53g CHO
Pasta (1 cup cooked) 37g CHO
Yoghurt (200g) 8g Protein 26g CHO
Up & Go Energizer (250ml) 24g Protein 34g CHO