Strength training is essential to overall health and fitness, as well as complete body development.
People who focus on weight loss only may lose weight, but won’t get toned. People who focus specifically on strength get toned, but may not lose the surrounding fat, so they miss out on that ‘cut’ look. Those who focus solely on mobility end up with an incredible range of motion, but with limited strength and endurance.
It’s good to find a balance of the three. However, a lot of gym-goers miss the fourth and most important part of staying healthy and active: nutrition.
Nutrition goes a long way. You can eat for weight loss, you can eat for strength, and you can even eat foods that will loosen up your muscles and strengthen your joints, improving mobility. Personal diets — definied as what you eat — are incredibly diverse depending on what you are working towards
And if you are strength training and weight-watching simultaneously, it’s a whole different meal plan altogether.
To give you some perspective, I threw together a Day 1 meal plan that a typical person in strength training would follow while operating at a caloric deficit and using proper calorie burn methods.
To keep metabolism up, you want to actually eat 5-7 smaller meals throughout the day, rather than 3 big meals. This keeps your digestive system active all day, which burns more calories. It also increases your basal metabolic rate.
- 2 Egg Whites
- 1/2 Cup of Oats
- Black Coffee – you can substitute for tea if you prefer.
The egg white are a wonderful source of protein and good cholesterol. Recently, studies have shown that egg yolks do not contain as much bad cholesterol as previously thought. Feel free to included the yolks for even more protein!
Oats are an amazing source of essential vitamins and good carbs. They are a whole grain, unprocessed, and fiber-rich.
Your coffee should be black. With cream and sugar, a regular coffee has as much fat and dextrose in it as a few chocolate chip cookies. Keep it clean.
- 6 oz Lean Steak
- Brown Rice
Make sure that steak is as lean as you can find. Red meat is an amazing source of protein (one of the best actually), but that fat that can come with some cuts can be detrimental to progress. Watch that fat!
Brown rice is better than white rice. Plain and simple. Pure white foods like rice, flour, pasta, tortillas, etc are highly processed and full of preservatives and are nutrient-deficient. Remember that next time you go to choose your rice at Chipotle.
- Sweet Potato
- Steamed Broccoli
Chicken is your source of protein. Sweet potatoes are a fantastic alternative to any other kid of potatoes or starchy foods. They contain far more nutrients than russet or fingering potatoes and pack a punch of good carbs to energize you in a healthy fashion and works tandem with your steamed broccoli. This will fill you up, and give you all those vitamins you need, as well as a dose of antioxidants!
- Brown Rice
It’s good to switch up your protein intake. Now that you are getting closer to your actual workout, it’s good to lean up as much as possible and focus on foods that are for energy and muscle regeneration. Fish is the leanest protein you can find (depending on the fish).
- Sweet Potato
Your mid-afternoon should mimic your mid-morning meal. Stick with a lean protein and a great source of good carbs and nutrients.
- Brown Rice
You want to pack on the carbs and does up on protein before you hit the gym. This small meal will give you steady energy throughout your workout (recommended 45 minutes average).
A lot of people use a form of pre-workout powder, however a lot of brands can hide the horrible taste of creatine and raw amino acids with sickly sweet flavors that need a whole bunch of sugar to achieve. Black coffee will get the job done with any added sugars or fat.
After your workout, make sure to hit your body with a solid amount of protein with either a shake, a protein bar, or a fat piece of meat. You want to get at least 30g of protein in you (depending on your overall size), but anything above 45g is unnecessary.
Dinner – Keep it simple and clean
Steak will help pack some meat back on your muscles and will help them repair overnight to get you ready for Day 2!
If it gets late and you find yourself hungry, keep fresh fruit or steamed vegetables on hand.
You’ll notice these meals use a lot of the same vegetables, starches, and proteins. And you’re right! The trick with eating 5-7 times a day like this is meal prepping.
If you have 4 meals that day wth broccoli involved, make a whole head of it the night before and save it. Pre-cook your chicken and steak and portion them out into tuppaware with your veggies. Label them and keep a section of your fridge free for prepared meals.
Eating this frequently may seem like an inconvenience, but if you plan ahead and follow the routine you’ll be able to reap the rewards without having to make an everyday time commitment to cooking!
Give it try around your gym sessions. You will notice a difference in your energy levels and will start to see that unwanted fat melt off your body in no time! Miracles happen when you cut out processed foods and bad carbs (bread and pasta).
Stay Koko Fit
Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer