Gone are the days when strength training was just about elite body builders bulking up with killer iron and boringly strict meal plans. With the growing body of research backing up the importance of strength training for everything from weight loss to bone density to longevity, it has gone mainstream and is considered a must for every one of your clients seeking to achieve health and fitness goals.
As with so many other fitness activities, strength training is about more than just throwing some weights on a bar and lifting. Truly effective strength training also relies on a healthy nutrition plan and appropriate pre- and post-workout fuel, all designed to maximize results.
In general, an effective nutrition plan includes adequate energy (calories), macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) and hydration, all customized according to the intensity, duration and format of the training program as well as to the individual. Each of these nutrition factors can either positively or negatively affect preparation for, and recovery from, moderate-to-intense training sessions. Over time, these factors can significantly impact the success of any strength-training goal. In fact, without an adequate meal plan containing enough calories to support a strength-training program, clients may actually be faced with loss of muscle mass and bone density, increased fatigue, injury, illness, nutrient deficiencies and a longer recovery process.
The best nutrition program, overall, to support a strength-training program includes the following:
Carbohydrates: 6 to 10 grams per kilogram of body weight (2.7 to 4.5 grams per pound of body weight). Carbohydrates maintain blood glucose levels during exercise and replace muscle glycogen. Personal carbohydrate requirements vary based upon the intensity and length of workouts as well as body size, sex and even environmental conditions.
Protein: 4 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight (0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight). These recommended protein intakes can generally be met through diet alone, without the use of protein or amino acid supplements.
Fat: 20 to 35 percent of total energy intake. It can often be tempting to drop below this level in the quest for improved results; however, consuming less than 20 percent of energy from fat does not benefit performance. It’s important to stress to clients the importance of total nutrition for optimal results.
Hydration: Adequate fluid intake before, during and after exercise is important for health and optimal performance. Dehydration actually decreases exercise performance. In the hours after exercise, clients should aim for approximately 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound (0.5 kg) of body weight lost during exercise to replenish fluids.
As with other training programs, fueling up in the hours prior
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