Skip Nav
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Diet Tips
5 Types of Intermittent Fasting (and the 1 a Dietitian Recommends)
Healthy Living
9 Smoothie Prep Pictures That Are Nothing Short of Perfection
What Is Ikigai
This Japanese Self-Care Practice Promises to Help You Find Your Purpose

How Much Food Do I Need When Lifting Weights?

2 Experts Explain How Your Diet Needs to Change When You Lift Weights

You may notice that you're positively starving when you leave the gym after a particularly sweaty session. It's natural for the body to crave more food when you're doing more exercise, but just because you're eating more calories doesn't mean you shouldn't be strategic about what you're putting into your body. This is especially true if you've started lifting weights for the first time.

"It's essential to know that nutrition has a significant impact on your results," Dr. Luiza Petre, board-certified cardiologist and weight-management specialist, told POPSUGAR. If you're lifting weights in an attempt to build muscle mass, Dr. Petre said, "You will likely need some additional calories." More importantly, though, you need to make sure you're getting enough protein.

Dee (Diksha) Gautham, NASM-certified personal trainer and NPC bikini competitor, confirmed this to be true. "Protein is the building block of our muscle tissues and will support muscle recovery and building strength," she explained. Similarly, Dr. Petre added that giving your body a good amount of whole protein source won't only build and maintain muscle, but will also "stimulate the release of fat-burning hormones."

So how much more protein do you need to be eating if you're doing strength training on the regular? Well, let's start with the recommended daily intake of protein for women, which is 0.37 grams per pound of bodyweight. The CDC puts it in easier terms — you should aim for 46 grams of protein a day. However, that's the case if you're not exercising a lot or lifting heavy weights.

If you're looking to put on muscle, Dr. Petre said, "The general rule is that it is necessary to eat at least 1 to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight per day." Dee also suggested you aim for one gram of protein per pound of your weight. In an ideal world, you would squeeze in an extra serving of protein before and after your workout, which would "easily keep the metabolism revved up at all times for maximum benefit during exercising," according to Dr. Petre. As for which protein to eat, Dr. Petre recommends whole protein, like lean beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, eggs, and soy.

But protein isn't the only thing to think about. "With abundant protein meals, you should not forget the importance of carbohydrates when starting weightlifting," Dr. Petre explained. "A reasonable intake of quality carbs is also required to train on — and for recuperation." So don't be afraid of carbs! It's the energy that will help you get through workouts and recover faster.

"However, this does not mean you need to eat abnormal amounts of sugar and pasta," Dr. Petre warned. "Eat non-starchy carbs which are higher in fibre, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, regularly throughout the day." Another thing to keep in mind is when you eat your complex carbs. Dr. Petre says if you eat them first thing in the morning — think whole grain bread, brown rice, or quinoa — "your body is more likely to use them to help refuel your energy reserves."

Although it feels natural to increase your calorie intake when you're lifting weights, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to, especially if you're trying to simultaneously shed fat. "If you're trying to build muscle and lose body fat at the same time, you can do it, but diet is key: focus on decreasing your overall calories slightly while still keeping your protein up," Dee suggested. Getting all that protein will also keep you fuller for longer, so you don't have to worry about dealing with painful periods of hunger.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Diggy Lloyd
Product Credit: Nike top and pants, APL sneakers
More from POPSUGAR
From Our Partners
How to Stop Kids From Phubbing
POPSUGAR Australia POPCAST Podcast Episode Four: Bree Amer
Dr Perricone 3-Day Diet Review
Makeup That Won't Make You Look White in Photos
Amy Schumer I Feel Pretty Backlash Response
Best Triangl Swimwear 2018
Kylie Jenner Fashion Nova Dress
Trump Tweets on Muslim Ban as Evidence in Supreme Court Case
Minimalism Tips
Antonio Banderas Quotes About Melanie Griffith April 2018
Things You Should Know Before Buying a Bidet
Bliss Body Polish Review
From Our Partners
Latest Health & Fitness
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds