You know about carbs, proteins and fats. You know about BMR and your optimal daily calorie count. You’ve been weight lifting for a while, eating properly and noticing the improvement in your strength and your physique. Now it’s time to take your nutritional knowledge to the next level.
Below is some great information for the advanced weight lifter, plus some great tips to try if you find that your gains have stalled.
Are You Eating Five to Eight Meals a Day?
If you’re not, you should be. Providing your body with a constant supply of nutrition throughout the day can make a huge difference in how fast you gain muscle or how fast you burn fat. A typical recommended meal schedule is as follows:
2. Mid-morning snack
4. Mid-afternoon snack
5. Pre-workout snack
6. Post-workout snack
8. Bedtime snack
On non-workout days, you could eliminate the pre- and post-workout snacks, and add another snack between dinner and bedtime.
Are You Watching the Glycemic Index of your Carbohydrates?
The glycemic index (or GI) of foods indicates how quickly your body absorbs the carbohydrates and raises your blood sugar level. It is optimal to keep your blood sugar level even or moving slowly – large spikes are to be avoided. The GI of a food is represented by a number from 1 to over 100. The lower the number, the slower your body coverts the carb to sugar and thus the better it is for your blood sugar level. It is recommended that weight lifters focus on foods that have a low GI.
Some great foods with low GI are cherries, pears, sweet potatoes, peanuts, bean sprouts and apples. Foods to be avoided for their high GI value are raisins, baked potatoes, white rice and watermelon. Use a nutrition guide on the internet to lookup the glycemic values of the foods in your diet.
Are You Getting Enough Fiber?
When computing a weight lifter’s dietary requirements, fiber is usually, sadly, omitted from this list. A diet that contains at least 25 grams of fiber every day can greatly increase your overall health by helping your body eliminate fat and other wastes so as to keep your colon clean. Revisit your diet and find the fiber values of the foods you are eating. If you’re not getting 25 grams or more, consider taking a fiber supplement to make up the difference.
Are You Taking an Antioxidant Supplement?
This isn’t Chemistry 101, so let’s not get bogged down in the super-science here. The quick and dirty story is this: free radicals can cause damage to your body on the cellular level, and this damage accumulates over time. Free radicals can occur naturally, but their production can be stimulated by cigarette smoke, pollution and even some herbicides. Your body can eliminate these free radicals as long as sufficient antioxidants are present. If you’re eating a balanced diet including fruits and vegetables, you are most likely consuming a fair amount of antioxidants. If you don’t want to pay money for another supplement, try including foods in your weight lifting diet that are especially rich in antioxidants, such as strawberries, blueberries, roasted peanuts (roasted peanut have significantly more antioxidant content then raw), spinach, soybeans and oats.
Once your weight lifting diet has been dialled in and you are eating everything in the right amount and at the right time, your body will be running and peak efficiency and your gains will skyrocket. Proper nutrition and supplementation is the most complicated area in the subject of weight lifting. Never stop learning!