By now you know that a proper weightlifting diet should be somewhat lowin fat with a balance of protein and carbohydrates that slightly favors more carbs. Next, we'll show you the types of these compounds you should choose.
Fats: Generally speaking, unsaturated fats are best for any person's health. Sources of this kind of fat include avocados, nuts, olive oil, flaxseed oil and fatty fish. However, weightlifters can get by with slightly more saturated fat than most people, as a diet too low in cholesterol can lower strength levels [source: Stoppani, et. al].
Protein: Choose proteins with a high biological value (BV) for better absorption and muscle growth [source: Evans]. Milk and eggs both have high BV. When it comes to meat, fish has a higher BV than beef and chicken. For most people, it's easy getting enough protein from these sources; vegetarians, however, may need to add supplemental protein to their diets [source: Cane, et. al].
Carbohydrates: For weightlifters, it's really important to know whether a carb is slow digesting or fast digesting. Slow-digesting carbohydrates don't cause as rapid a spike in your blood-sugar levels as their counterparts. They are often known as complex carbohydrates, and they should comprise most of your carb consumption. Buckwheat, brown rice, whole grain pasta, yams and oatmeal all qualify as slow-digesting carbohydrates. The only time you should consider fast-digesting carbs, like white breads, rices and pastas, is directly following a hard workout, when it's ideal to have a blood-sugar spike [source: Robbins].
Supplements can also be an important part of a dietary plan. Caffeine, creatine, beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), arginine, cocoa and cinnamon have all been shown to benefit strength gaining. While a well-balanced diet should supply you with the nutrients you need, intense exercise can create deficiencies, so extra vitamins and minerals are sometimes desirable. Just keep in mind that you should only take supplements under a doctor's supervision. Some can interfere with prescription medications, while others can lead to toxicity and overdoses.
Keep reading for lots more information.
- Cane, Deidre Johnson; Cane, Jonathon and Joe Glickman. "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Weight Training." Alpha. Dec. 6, 2005. (April 9, 2012)
- Evans, Nick. "Men's Body Sculpting." Human Kinetics. Oct. 20, 2010. (April 9, 2012)
- Keller, Larry and Schuler, Lou. "The Men's Health Hard Body Plan: The Ultimate 12-Week Program for Burning Fat and Building Muscle." Rodale Books. Nov. 18, 2000. (April 9, 2012)
- Men's Fitness. "The Fit 5: Starting a Nutrition Plan." (April 9, 2012) http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/the-fit-5-starting-a-nutrition-plan
- Robbins, Greg. "9 Ways to Crush Workouts Forever." Men's Fitness. (April 9, 2012) http://www.mensfitness.com/training/build-muscle/9-ways-to-crush-workouts-forever
- Stoppani, Jim and Velazquez, Eric. "25 Ways to Improve Your Workouts." Muscle & Fitness. (April 9, 2012) http://www.muscleandfitness.com/training/25-ways-improve-your-workouts
- Stoppani, Jim and Wuebben, Joe. "Basic Nutrition." Muscle & Fitness. (April 9, 2012) http://www.muscleandfitness.com/nutrition/basic-nutrition
- Wuebben, Joe. "Eating While You Lift." Muscle & Fitness. (April 9, 2012)http://www.muscleandfitness.com/nutrition/other/eating-while-you-lift