Foods for Workouts: Strength Training

We gave you the low-down on best nutrition for cardio workouts, now how to eat when you’re hitting up the weight room.

Closeup of Two Blue Dumbbells Against a White Background

We gave you the lowdown on the best nutritional bets for cardio workouts. Up next: How to eat when you’re hitting up the weight room.

Strength Training Basics

Whether you prefer lifting free weights, hitting a circuit of resistance machines or catching a yoga class, each of these activities have a strength component. Even sports like tennis, swimming and kayaking require a combination of cardiovascular and resistance exercise.

Whatever your excise of choice, the biggest mistake folks make is thinking only about protein. While healthy muscles do rely on protein for growth and recovery (especially after exercise), you can't build or maintain lean muscle efficiently if there’s not enough carbohydrate and fat around for energy. Loading up on protein right before exercise is also a faux pas because you won’t have time to digest it -- hello stomach cramps! Learning how to time your protein intake can make all the difference.

Protein Power

Take in healthy protein from nutrient-dense foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, soy, nuts and peanut butter. Maximize your protein intake with these tips:

•    Spread protein out throughout the day- small amounts with all meals and most snacks

•    Get in about 10 to 20 grams directly following exercise
•    Choose protein sources you like and know you can digest easily

•    Aim for 20 to 25-percent of your total daily calories from protein

High-Protein Snacks
Make these protein-rich snacks part of your routine:

•    Low-fat cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit

•    Hard-boiled eggs
•     Smoothies made with milk or soy milk, peanut butter and banana
•    Low-sodium deli turkey & cheese roll-ups
•    Hummus and carrot sticks
•    Water-packed tuna and whole grain crackers
Tell Us: What’s your favorite protein-packed snack?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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Whether you're just hitting the elliptical after work or attempting a triathlon, what you eat before and after you workout is important. Food provides calories for energy and that’s what keeps you moving -- but be mindful of where these calories are coming from.

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