This time of season many of us are including resistance training in our current training programs. What can I do nutritionally to maximizemy strength-building efforts? I am specifically interested in what I can eat before and after weight training. How do my nutritional strategies differ after a long bike ride or run?
For the cyclists and triathletes who opt to include resistance training in their program, nutritional considerations should include both one’s daily training diet (especially when combined with your regular endurance training), and before and after-workout nutrition strategies.
As you realize, resistance training is highly anaerobic. Besides utilizing mainly phosphocreatine and then glycogen for fuel, two studies also found a decrease in muscle triglyceride (fat) stores, indicating that fat burning is more important than previously believed when weight training. During an intense weight training session your muscle glycogen stores are reduced by one-third, as are your muscle triglycerides levels.
Consider this fuel depletion in the context of your entire training program. If you combine weight training with endurance and or other aerobic training, your nutrition requirements could remain quite high, and you must make sure that you refuel your body properly. It takes about 350 to 400 calories a day to build one pound of muscle mass per week. Inadequate calorie intake with a proper balance of healthy carbohydrates and healthy fats in your diet is needed to maximize your muscle building efforts. Carbohydrates replace your muscle glycogen losses during both endurance and resistance training. A diet of 20 to 25 percent fat plays a role in maintaining normal testosterone levels, which could have implications in supporting your muscle building efforts.
Of course you may be wondering about your protein intake, and if the calories you consume for muscle building should come from this nutrient. Although protein is an important component of the tissue building process, the amounts that you require for your weight-training program over the whole day are actually less than you need during heavy endurance training. You can easily obtain the daily protein you need, about 0.8 grams per pound of weight, from your diet and good food choices. Keep in mind that you obtain protein not only from the concentrated animal sources, but also from less dense sources such as vegetables and grains. All these foods add to contribute to your total protein intake.
While your daily protein intake is not excessively elevated, there is compelling evidence that how you time your protein intake can have positive effects on your muscle building efforts. When you resistance train, both the rates at which you both build and breakdown protein increase for several hours afterwards. But in order to make the most of the protein building effects, your must have the proper food intake afterwards. Even as small a dose of protein as 6 grams in the hour after weight training can produce a positive effect in muscle protein balance. This positive effect persists even one to two hours after weight training.
Higher doses of protein than the 6 grams after resistance training will likely not produce further muscle building as there seems to be a leveling off effect at each time interval. The protein you consume should be high in essential amino acids, as they are the primary stimulators of muscle protein synthesis. Some good protein sources could be whey protein, milk protein, egg protein, or even soy protein. You can also consider having essential amino acids in another snack or meal several hours later as this may also encourage a positive muscle building effect. This protein can easily be obtained from real foods such as fish, poultry, etc.
What you consume before weight training is also important. Again, protein in the form of essential amino acids can stimulate muscle protein synthesis.You can also consider the timing of your weight training sessions in regards to carbohydrate intake. Adequate glycogen stores are needed for optimal weight training and may be depleted from previous endurance training session.
Thanks for your question and best of luck!
Monique Ryan, MS, RD, LDN is a nationally recognized nutritionist with over twenty-two years of experience and is owner of Personal Nutrition Designs, a Chicago based nutrition consulting company that provides nutrition programs for endurance athletes across North America. Monique consults with the Chicago Fire Soccer Team, and was the nutritionist for Saturn Cycling from 1994 to 2000. She has also consulted with the Volvo-Cannondale Mountain Bike Team, the Gary Fisher Mountain Bike Team, and the Rollerblade Racing Team. Monique has consulted with USA Cycling, and was a member of the Performance Enhancement Team for the Women’s Road Team leading to the 2004 Athens Olympics. She has also provided nutrition consultation services to USA Triathlon for coaching clinics, athlete clinics, and for the resident athlete team and was a member of the USAT Performance Enhancement Team for the 2004 Athens Olympics. Monique is the author of “SportsNutrition for Endurance Athletes,” 2nd edition (March 2007), from VeloPress,which provides sports specific nutrition for road cycling, mountain biking, running, triathlon, swimming, rowing, and adventure racing. She is also author of “PerformanceNutrition for Winter Sports” (PeakSports Press), “Performance Nutritionfor Team Sports” (PeakSports Press), and “Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition. Monique is a regular contributor to VeloNews, Inside Triathlon, Outside, and ACE Fitness Matters. Please send your questions to email@example.com.