Nutrition For Strength Training

The goals of athletes seeking to build strength are typically two fold: to build muscle while keeping body weight low.

Muscular strength is essential to virtually all sporting pursuits, from team sports such as football and baseball, to sports that emphasize explosiveness such as basketball, track, field, and martial arts. Even endurance sports like a triathalon have a strength component, because strength in athletes is simply the controlled application of mechanical force to a resistant surface or object. In running, it’s the ground. In swimming, it’s the water. In baseball, it’s the ball. In boxing, it’s your opponent’s face.

Strength (or power) also comes into play in training. Much of the training regimen for any athlete will be resistance training: the lifting of weights to cause muscle contractions. These can include weight lifting, body weight exercises, and core exercises. Over time, such action damages muscle fibers, and the recover from that damage through rest, hydration, and nutrition leads to muscle growth, increased metabolism, greater strength, and increased lean body mass.

Greater muscle strength also reduces the risk of injury as muscles are better able to support the joints and skeletal system and more resistant to exercise-induced trauma. According to the Mayo Clinic, strength training also improves muscle tone and coordination and reduces the decline in muscle mass that usually accompanies age.

Because the application of muscular force is anaerobic, strength-related exercise causes the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. Depending on its duration, intense exercise requiring power and explosiveness – ski jumping, volleyball, powerlifting – taps into one of two anaerobic energy systems, neither of which rely on oxygen as a catalyst for the chemical reaction that produces energy. As the muscles are pushed to failure (pain or the inability to further contract without rest), lactic acid accumulates in the tissues. Beyond a certain threshold (the lactate threshold) lactic acid begins to cause fatigue, thereby negatively impacting performance.

This may not have a noticeable effect on casual exercisers, who either do not engage in anaerobic exercise intense enough to cause lactic acid buildup at sufficient levels or engage primarily in aerobic exercise, which does not cause lactate accumulation. However, the rigorous workouts and competitive performance of athletes, pro or amateur, makes the lactate threshold relevant.

The goals of athletes seeking to build strength are typically two fold: to build muscle while keeping body weight low. The more you weight, the more energy it takes to propel that weight through the motions of your sport. And, since fat does not exert force, it follows that reducing body fat must be a dietary goal alongside developing muscle.

Here are some ideal strength building foods:

Lean Meat – Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, can provide up to 30 grams of protein per serving with a low saturated fat content.
Fish – Salmon, anchovies, tuna, sardines, cod, tilapia, and halibut are some of the best options for athletes after their daily protein fix.
Egg whites – A typical egg white contains about four to five grams of protein, making this a power food for athletes.
Complex Carbohydrates – Brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and oatmeal are great examples of quality complex carbohydrates. These carbohydrates digest slowly and release their energy gradually, providing long-term fuel to muscles during difficult exercise.
Nuts – Nuts are an ideal protein sources for athletes who don’t eat meat. Nuts contain substantial protein as well as high levels of healthy fats that reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health.

Author: Dr. Andrew Myers

Learn more about supplementation for athletic performance by ordering the book written by Nobel Laureate in Medicine Dr. Louis Ignarro and Naturopathic Physician Dr. Andrew Myers Health Is Wealth: Performance Nutrition for the Competitive Edge

Read about the new Nitric Oxide and Creatine Supplement and existing Niteworks Supplement

And recovery drinks for anaerobic exercise

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