When it comes to strength training, the early you add it to your fitness routine, the better it is. As we age, it gets harder to build or maintain muscle. And the best way to build strong muscles that defy aging is strength training. The benefits of strength training go beyond mere fat loss or inch loss. As you build lean muscle, the body fat starts dropping. It also helps you become stronger and more functional.
For most people, cardio is the first and favorite route to weight loss. But cardio without strength training is like a body without a soul. Cardio primarily helps in burning calories during the workout. Once you are off the treadmill, the calorie burning stops. On the other hand, strength training helps burn calories during and after exercise. Also, more muscle means a higher BMR or Base Metabolic Rate. How? During strength training, your muscle is constantly being broken down, recreated, and synthesized. All these procedures need energy. So the more muscle you have, the more energy your body will consume to carry out all these procedures. And let’s not forget metabolism, which thrives with strength training. As you burn more calories at rest, thanks to a higher BMR, you experience not just weight loss but a tighter and leaner body. In a nutshell, strength training is an indispensable part of every weight loss plan.
It goes without saying that for good muscle mass you need a healthy diet, muscle-nourishing & building nutrition in particular. Nutrition is an integral part of strength training. Undergoing constant wear and tear, your muscles need adequate nutrition to recover and repair. Contrary to popular belief, eating right for strength training doesn’t only mean grazing on high-quality protein foods. Prioritizing protein is definitely important for maintaining muscle health, but you also need Carbohydrates, Fat and Hydration to keep the body performing at its best. Athletes or those who do high-intensity workouts need Carbohydrates with protein because carbohydrates produce energy in a more efficient manner than fats and protein. Since not all fats are created equal, the healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, coconut oil, etc provide you adequate energy for strength training.
At the same time, the quantity, quality, and timing of your meals, as well as snacks, also plays a key role, especially pre, and post-workout. For example, whole-grain offers healthy, complex carbs in comparison to a pizza, which gives simple carbs. For heart-healthy Fats, you can consider walnuts, almonds, avocados, and fish. Truly effective and result-oriented strength training is deeply rooted in healthy nutrition. When strength training, the food you eat becomes a source of energy as well as nourishment for your body. Let’s see how you need to spread your meals and snacks in order to get the best out of your strength training.
Pre-workout Meal (1-2 hours)
Think of a pre-workout meal as an energy booster. You need to fuel up a bit for a truly engrossing, sweat high workout session. This will also ensure that there is less muscle glycogen depletion, which in turn increases muscle growth. Go for a smart snack, which gives you more energy to exercise even harder in the gym. Ideally, a smart snack is a mixture of carbohydrates and proteins so that it can provide more sustained energy levels and prevent muscle breakdown. All in all, a pre-workout meal is important as it helps to reach our maximum potential and better concentration during a workout. Some healthy pre-workout snack options are:
∙ Coconut oil (2 tsp) in Coffee (1 cup)
∙ Coconut water
In between the workout
Muscle cramps, achy joints, headache, nausea, and fatigue are all likely symptoms of moderate dehydration. To maintain the hydration levels, reduce exercise fatigue, decrease muscle soreness and help build muscle, you need a good mix of powerful electrolytes and nutrients such as sodium and potassium. While working out, you can try:
∙ BCAA (1 scoop) in 500 ml of water
∙ Whey Protein (200 ml)
*Scoops and water also depend on the height and weight of your body plus the weight one is lifting.
Post-workout (after 30 minutes)
Protein plays a crucial during this 30 minutes window after strength training as it helps reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. Since this is your body’s building phase, you need to eat protein to help the body replenish and recover. During exercise, muscle tissues break down. The protein we eat after a workout also gets broken down into amino acids, which then supplies the nutrient needed for muscle tissue repair. You can look at these healthy combinations:
∙ Egg whites (3) + Whole grain Toast (1)
∙ Moong Dal Cheela (1) + Curd (1 cup) + Paneer cubes (2 tbsp)
∙ Quinoa Khichdi (1 bowl) + Sattu (1 glass)
Post-workout meal (in 2 hours)
A proper, balanced, and nutritious meal is necessary post-workout because after strength training body’s metabolism gets fired up and it continues to be on fire for a long time. Your body steps into the “after-burn phase” due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which keeps metabolism elevated for up to 72 hours afterward. This boosts the burning of fat long after a workout, compared with lower or moderate-intensity workouts. Your meal should aid this post-workout calorie burn. This is how your plate should look like:
Lentils/lean Protein + Starchy veggie/ Whole grains + cooked green leafy veggie or other veggies + Ghee/White Homemade butter + Yogurt/Buttermilk)
8 Strength Training Exercises that you can do at home
- Chest press
- Jumping jack
Benefits of Strength Training
∙ Builds & maintains Lean Muscle Mass
∙ Improves bone health
∙ Improves aerobic performance and overall physical activity
∙ Lowers cholesterol
∙ Accelerates Weight loss
∙ Boosts immunity