We all know they say to love your body no matter what. But, as a woman myself, I know we all have something that we dislike about our body. So it’s important for your health and confidence to have a diet, strength training, and cardio program put into place. Then you will start seeing changes! Today, I’m focusing in on the diet.
In order to get that strong lean body that we all want, you must have the combination of knowledge and self control. This allows you to make the right choices through out the day. Basically, eating right and at the right times is crucial to making and maintaining your strength gains.
The seven principles that follow are so essential that together that they create a diet that will send your strength and lean body mass skyrocketing!
How much protein is enough? If you’re trying to gain strength and lean body mass a minimum of 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. For 145 pound woman that is at least 145 grams of protein daily. When you have a high-protein diet you have a greater nitrogen balance. This basically is how much protein is stored in your body and if your weight training, that protein will get stored as muscle. Some good lean sources of protein include protein shakes (whey protein), turkey, fish, chicken breasts, and lean ground beef.
Adding a decent amount of certain fats to your diet has its benefits. Mono and polyunsaturated fats promote cardio-vascular health. It’s also no secret that woman store fat more readily than men, but according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine women burn fat more readily than men. Therefore; if your goal is gaining strength you should put emphasis on quality protein and fat consumption with most of your calories coming from lean protein and healthy fat sources. The heavier you train the more pressure you put on your joints, and healthy fats are critical to joint health. 20-30% of your daily calories should come from fat sources such as salmon, nuts (walnuts) seeds, and avocados. Keep saturated fats found in dairy and meat to 10% or less of your calorie intake.
Carbohydrates are an important part of this diet. Those who eat slow-burning carbs for breakfast and lunch and then exercise, burn more fat throughout the day and during their exercise. They also maintain lower insulin levels than those who eat fast burning carbs. Slow-digesting carbs include: brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, legumes, sweet potatoes, and fruit. You should eat 1-1.5 grams of slow digesting carbs per pound of bodyweight per day. For a 145 pound woman that is 145-217 grams a day.
Studies have shown that ingesting a combination of protein and carbs right before and after a workout leads to increased muscle mass and strength and body fat loss, than those who do not. Before you train you want a fast protein (provides amino acids) and slower carbs (to fuel your workout over a longer period). Whey Protein is a fast digesting high quality protein and you should take it 30 minutes before workout. There are many brands or varieties out there, the one I use is Optimum Nutrition All Natural Whey Protein. You should consume 20-30 grams of slow-digesting carbs within a half hour of training too. (The last slide gave some ideas as to what kinds are slow digesting).
Post-workout is just as important as pre-workout and there is only one difference: the speed of carb digestion. Fast digesting carbs after training spike your levels of insulin, and that has major effects on muscle mass, because it ushers protein into the muscle cells. Any fast carb will work, but watch the fat content. Fat will slow down the carb digestion and absorption so chose low-fat simple carbs (angel food cake, jelly, white bread, etc). You should consume 40 grams of whey protein and 30-40 grams of fast burning carbs immediately after workouts.
Dehydration is bad news for strength and lean body mass gains. You should have fluids throughout the day not just while working out. The Institute of Medicine for women recommends 11 cups of water per day, but as physical activity increases so should your daily fluid. You don’t just have to drink water because it’s in about everything we drink (coffee, tea, soda, and it’s fruits and veggies and that all counts toward your daily total.
Supplements are very vital to building strength. Besides whey protein you should add 3-5 grams of creatine and 1-1.5 grams of beta-alanine immediately pre- and post workout. Creatine is an amino acid that powers your muscle cells. Supplementing with this will increase endurance, muscle mass, and strength. Beta-Alanine taken with creatine can decrease body fat and increase lean body mass.
Most women who focus on strength think of the workout. But even the fiercest gym-goer could go nowhere without a solid nutrition plan. Using these 7 fundamentals will get you to where you want to be:a fit, strong body, that you love!