When I first hit the weight room at the young age of 16, I was considered a bit of an oddball. I know many were wondering what a petite girl like me was doing among heavy lifters, but something drew me to it. I was in need of some cross-training, and as someone who had a naturally small frame, the idea of being a little stronger gave me more confidence.
Fast forward 20 years. Though my 20’s turned into a cardio-fest, I’ve happily found my way back to the weight room. And would you believe it, resistance training is now in vogue! Even my grandma at the age of 85 (oops, sorry grandma, I know we were supposed to stop counting at 75) can be seen with a pair of dumbbells in her hands.
Resistance training is no longer just for body builders as its benefits in building and maintaining strong bones and helping to prevent injuries (strong capable muscles support us in everyday activities) are appealing to men, women, young, and the young-at-heart alike. Nearly every doctor is encouraging the majority of their patients to do light to moderate lifting on a regular basis.
Fortunately, there are personal trainers galore to teach us all the right techniques and to help pick the right weights and repetitions for our bodies and goals - but what about diet? Though body builders have been analyzing and calculating their dietary intake for decades, your average gym goer often forgets the importance of nutrient intake when seeking real results. It would be a shame to put in 30 to 60 minutes of strength training a few times a week and not maximize the positive effects.
With high intensity training (think running and conditioning) we’re taught the importance of carbohydrates in replenishing glycogen stores, but when it comes to resistance training protein is the key …
Why? Studies have shown that combining resistance training with protein consumption provides a significant increase in the body’s ability to build and strengthen muscle versus resistance training alone or resistance training with carbohydrate intake only.
When? It seems that the largest window of opportunity closes within 2 hours following your workout. Several studies show that noshing on protein-rich food immediately post-workout will help to increase the strength building benefits of resistance training. In other words: the sooner the better, and preferably within one hour post-workout.
How Much? Consuming 6 to 25 grams of protein within one hour of exercise significantly increases muscle repair and growth according to a recent report in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. To put that amount in perspective, 4 ounces of organic turkey breast or chicken, say on a tasty sandwich, will give you a quick hit of 20 grams of muscle-building protein.