Q: How should I eat after strength training?
how, when and what for refueling after strength sessions
The Sunday newsletters have returned! I took a few weeks off for some vacation and family time, but we are back. I got this question - how should I eat after strength training? - on Instagram and talk about it with clients fairly regularly. I’ve also been trying to incorporate more strength training into my running schedule lately, and have been loving the Peloton classes (shout out to Daniel McKenna and Jess Sims, my two favorite strength instructors). I just turned 40 (!), and it’s a fact that this is when women start to lose muscle mass at a more rapid rate as they approach perimenopause. Strength training can help counteract this process, and help protect our bones and mobility for the later years. However, it of course has to go hand in hand with nutrition and most specifically, protein.
The important protein window
No matter your age, protein is the most important nutrient to prioritize post-strength session. To take advantage of the body’s acute anabolic (or muscle building) response from strength training, it’s important to consume quality protein within 30-45 minutes of your workout. I recommend aiming for between 20-30 grams of protein at this time, which can be fairly easy to do with these ideas:
Two eggs with whole grain toast, avocado, hemp seeds and a cup of drinkable yogurt (I love Siggi’s)
Oatmeal with 1 scoop collagen powder, almond milk, 1-2 tbsp peanut butter, berries and chia seeds
1 cup Greek yogurt with granola, berries and flaxseeds
Protein throughout the day
After your post-workout meal or snack, it’s just as important to consume protein consistently throughout the day to help continue muscle protein synthesis. Your body absorbs protein best when it is spread out in even increments throughout the day (anywhere between 20-40+ grams per meal plus snacks depending on your size).
That said, you also need a pre-workout snack
Fasted workouts, both strength and endurance, are not helpful. For strength workouts specifically, I usually recommend a combination of protein and carbohydrates. We know from multiple studies that eating protein before exercise can also help stimulate muscle protein synthesis, and adding carbs to the mix provides energy necessary to lift or perform to your full potential. Simple protein-containing pre-workout snack ideas include:
Hard boiled egg on toast
Greek yogurt with fruit
Peanut butter and banana
Cereal with milk
Figure out a “fueling plan” so to speak, for the type of training you’re focusing on and making sure you’re getting enough key nutrients can be headache-inducing. Working with a dietitian can not only alleviate that headache, but help guide you in the right direction at your speed, take your individual needs and lifestyle into account, and give you the tools necessary to reach whatever those big goals are.
For more information on working with me, please visit my website