So you want to get strong, do ya?

Nutrition Coaching

Posted on March 4, 2024
Posted on March 4, 2024

As a Women’s Strength Coach, you KNOW I’m into helping women eat in ways that fuel that growth. I mean, imagine a world where women weren’t in the gym to make our bodies smaller but instead strength training to make our LIVES BIGGER? 

What a dream. 

 

But figuring out how to eat for such a dream is certainly easier said than done in a world full of macro calculators, heroin-chic ‘body goals’ and the constant re-branding of the same BS diets over and over again. 

So, let’s clear things up, shall we?

When we talk about strength training, what do we mean here?

Strength training – also known as resistance training – is a type of exercise that causes your muscles to contract against an outside resistance. This can be anything, but in the gym, we often use body weight, dumbbells or a barbell to create that resistance.

Strength training is generally used to increase muscle mass (amongst about a million other positive benefits) for aesthetics, longevity in health, performance, you name it. Lean muscle mass is the key. 

And when we head to the gym and work with those weights, we are breaking down our muscles (you leave the gym ‘weaker’ than when you came in, did yuou know that?!) so that they can rebuild stronger than they were in our recovery phase. Eating the right foods will replenish your muscles and help build them up bigger and stronger.

And how should we eat for these kinds of goals? Here are my top 3 principles.

Eat enough.

The major nutrients you need are called macronutrients. There are three of them: protein, carbohydrates and fat. Each plays an important role in helping you fuel up for and recover from your workouts. And while it’s tempting to dig into the nitty-gritty details of a macro split right off the bat, if you aren’t eating ENOUGH to rebuild those muscles stronger, you’re wasting your time. 

We can build lean muscle mass out of thin air. If you are in a calorie deficit, all the energy to take in is going to basic survival, not the growth of that strength. And although that can be a tough thing to contend with if you’re looking for fat loss/body recomposition goals, rest a bit easy: more lean muscle mass typically gets us the aesthetic goals we are aiming for in a calorie deficit anyway, so gaining lean muscle may just be the solution to that diet, too. 

Think of your protein targets next.

Protein is our building block macronutrient; they help our bodies build and rebuild so they’re foundational to getting things done. As a very general guideline (all bodies are different, so these guidelines are never prescriptions!) we need about 1.54g per kilo of body weight. 

When we are getting enough dietary protein, our bodies are able to fuel the adaptation of rebuilding muscle, a process known as muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and we are on our way to getting stronger. 

And as for the other macronutrients? Don’t get me wrong: carbs are our bodies main energy source, dietary fats are critical to our hormonal health + micronutrient absorption, and both are essential to our health but the exact ratios of each more flexibly come down to your unique body, lifestyle, training style and preferences. Tere is more wiggle room there, worry about that protein first, bb! 

How does your sleep & life stress measure up?

Imagine your body is a car and the type of food you eat, the specific macro ratio you choose, the timing, and the supplements you take add up to the quality of the gas you use. If your car is being run into the ground, would the quality of the fuel matter if your car was barely hanging on to life?

What I’m trying to say here is that it doesn’t matter what you eat if your body can’t do what you want it to do with it, so optimising your sleep and stress so your body is in a place to work for you on your strength journey – to do what you’re asking it to – comes before you manipulate your intake any more than this. 

How you go about it will of course depend on your unique life circumstances and stressors, but dialling in your sleep quality and stress levels are 100% a piece of this strength puzzle. 

Is that really it?

Look, simple = sustainable (and muscles don’t grow overnight, so your plan needs to be something you’re willing to do for a while without quitting because it sucks or takes up too much damn time). Since we don’t want to overcomplicate things unnecessarily, kind of yes. 

Dial in the rest based on how specific your goals are.

If you’ve mastered the first two steps, have done it for some time & are ready to level up, remember: the specificity of your goals should determine the specificity of your strategy. 

There are certainly ways to level up from here and circumstances that warrant it, but trust me when I say that my biggest lesson after working with 200+ clients is that this stuff shouldn’t be UNNECESSARILY complicated.

Let’s first focus on getting enough energy to allow you to push uncomfortably heavy weights regularly & getting enough protein to recover and build those muscles back stronger.

And when you’re ready for more (or want some extra support getting those things in line), you know where to find us.

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