T Nation

Diet for strength training

I want to start concentrating more on strength training, but I’m not sure what to do about diet. If you’re looking to gain strength but not necessarily size, do you still need to eat a lot of extra calories?

do a search on dieting in the search box on the left type in diet and and you’ll fine a whole host of diets on the online t-mag.

If the goal is to increase strength then you should up your calories and intake lots of protien.

Also, what type of diet are you on now?

What do you weigh. ect. We do need to know more info about you before we can suggest any diet that you should consider.

In Health,
Silas C.

Okay, I’m about 190lbs, 15%bf following massive eating, getting around 4000kcal a day. 40% Protein, 30% carbs, 30% fat.

I am currently doing the workout that appeared in the ‘What I wish I knew then part 2’ article over at JB’s site.

I think I’ve read pretty much all of the diet articles on here, and they mostly seem geared toward gaining mass, and losing bodyfat.

I want to start concentrating more on strength training, should I follow the same kind of eating guidelines as massive eating? or do I need to do something else? less carbs perhaps?

You might want to check out the Anabolic Diet in T-mag.

I have an idea.

You could begin a log for both training and eating. Maintain your log for 6 to 8-weeks. At that 6-8 week period, review your log.

Have you made any gains? If so, you can continue to do what you’ve been doin’ diet and training-wise. If not, it’s time to modify.

Is there a difference between Nutrition for Strength and Nutrition for Hypertrophy???

That’s what I’m trying to find out :slight_smile:

In my opinion it isn’t your diet that needs to be changed. Just rep/set schemes and exercises.

Look into the last 3 issues of PL USA. There is a series of articles just for Pl’ers. It’s basically eat clean, get plenty of carbs, protein and good fats. Eat 6 meals per day and don’t avoid, just limit, bad fats as they are the chemical basis for T in hte body.

could we please get rid of the notion that saturated fat is a “bad” fat?

The only “bad fats” are processed fats, such as vegetable oils, and other crap like margarin.

Saturated fat is good for you, as it is a part of a natural healthy diet. Does this mean supplement with it? No. But it means that you shouldn’t consider it bad, merely just a healthy part of your diet. Eat your steak! It should have equal amounts of monos and saturated fats. Saturated fat supports T levels…that in and of itself reduces your risk of heart disease.

Adamski, my thoughts are that if you wish to put on size you need to eat big (in excess of maintenance calories) and follow a hypertropy type workout.

However, if your goals are strength only (i.e., no increase in muscle mass), I would suggest the following:

  1. Eat maintenance calories.

  2. Eat protein every meal, and eat 6 meals a day (every 3 hours), with maybe one middle-of-the-night shake in addition. My recommendation is that you calculate your protein requirements (1.5g x LBM) and divide it into 7 meals. More meals, smaller amounts of protein. Very protective of LBM.

  3. Eat quality protein. Avoid protein candy bars and minimize the number of protein shakes you take in. Chew your protein!

  4. Follow JB’s P+F and P+C food combining, taking in the majority of your carbs PWO. Very anabolic.

  5. Use Surge for recovery. Use creatine with Surge for its reputed (and proved) strength-building benefits.

  6. Eat green veggies, including spinach and broccoli.

  7. Get 6-10g of fish oil per day.

  8. Look at CNS-supportive supps, and get all the sleep your body needs.

  9. Be sure to take a 3-a-day multivitamin.

Hope that helps, Adamski. Eating to increase strength is different than eating to put on size. Your workouts are designed to challenge the CNS, rather than to stimulate muscle hypertrophy.

Adamski…how’d you do on the Massive Eating plan? Did you gain significant LBM?

As far as strength, I can say that I was able to improve my strength both during ‘lower-calorie’ type diets (i.e., not Massive Eating) as well as the Massive Eating plan that I’m currently on. With that said, I’d do what TampaTerry says, and just tweak it to slowly bring down ypur body fat. If you’re carb sensitive like me, then just limit carbs to the 2 post workout meals, and maybe some cottage cheese right before you go to bed.

Your big fear should be losing any LBM you’ve gained, and eating small might do that, so do like Patricia said and keep a log going, check the Body Fat and adjust accordingly. Personally, I’d look at my progress every week or two before making any real change.

The odds are 100% that any serious training plan in the gym requires greater-then-maintenance calories to sustain significant progress. I’ve definitely hurt myself by focusing too much on fat-loss/low calories in the past.


you should eat above maintenence, as you’re putting alot of stress on your body. i wasn’t able to make any signifigant strength gains when i was eating a maintenence type diet, but when i really started packing it in my strength started shooting through the roof. and i’ve put on some muscle, but nothing “excessive.”

Okay, there seems to be a lot of confusion about what exactly Adamski’s trying to find out here…

Loath though I am to do it, I’m going to have to disagree with Tampa-Terry on a diet question. I know, I know…I’m expecting a lightning bolt to strike me anytime now… :wink:

Look, eating for size and eating for strength isn’t all that different. The only really major difference is how many calories you take in. If you want to gain strength but not size, use a Westside template program and stay at maintenance cals. You will stay the same size (maybe put on a pound or two, but nothing more), and your strength will go up. Don’t believe me? Check out the Westside threads (all nine hundred plus responses to them!), where I did just that over the summer. The search word is “simmonstate”.

Will you gain as much strength as you would if you were hypercaloric? No, of course not. If you want to gain size AND strength, then up your cals however much you like and go for it.

But I still maintain that, caloric intake aside, you eat basically the same way for one as you do for another. If you look at TT’s recommendations above, they are all good choices for gaining size as well as strength. The only minor tweaking that I would suggest is (a) paying more attention to CNS burnout when you’re on a strength program, which means more attention to sleep and possibly supps like ZMA, if you need them, and (b) maybe more carbs when you’re bulking. Maybe. But this last is going to be very individual.

LittleJay, Massive Eating didn’t go as well as I’d hoped

Started off at 161lbs, 10%bf, 145lbs LBM

Currently 186lbs, 15%bf, 158lbs LBM

so a gain of 13lbs LBM, and 12lbs fat over a period of around 14weeks.

I was planning to keep going for longer, but I have gained far too much fat. This is mainly due to the fact that I missed a lot of workouts due to having started back at college and having to get up earlier to go to the gym. Also I think I should have increased my calories more slowly than I did. I think more energy system work would also have helped.

Not a complete disaster considering this was my first ‘bulk’ and I have been training less than a year, but I will be sure to stick to my training next time I do this.

Morg: I agree with you entirely, I get almost equal amounts of saturated, polys, and monos. I have noticed that I don’t feel ‘right’ when I don’t get much saturated fat (lack of energy/libido, not sure how to describe it).

Tampa-Terry: Thanks, that’s exactly the kind of answer I was hoping for.

I spoke to a strength coach that trains at my gym and his recommendations were similar, isocaloric diet, plenty of fats to support CNS recovery, play with carbs to manipulate bodyfat levels.

char-dawg: Thanks also.

From all your responses it seems that a lot of it is personal experimentation. On that note, the new plan is:

Take the rest of the week off training.
Test 1RM’s on Friday.
Start beginner’s westside program on monday, 9-12 weeks, including additional GPP workouts.
Play with calories, monitor strength and bodyfat.
Re-test 1RM’s

Actually, what I would do if I had absolutely no idea on what to eat or how to train; especially when embarking on a strength focus program, is to check out what the Westside guys do.

Or any top level strength athlete for that matter. Many have their own websites.

And then yes, experiment to find what works best for me.

I do know that I need to stay above maintenance. If I begin to tap out during a training session, then I know for sure that I did not eat enough that day.

That’s how I know.

I think holding calories down, as a bunch of people have already pointed out, is probably a bad idea, especially if the volume of your workouts is considerable (… you can measure on the “tonnage” system–weights x sets x reps = total weight lifted. A heavy workout for me is about 8-9 tons lifted. I’m using a Russian-style program that uses few-to-no assistance exercises. Poundage works equally well, but the numbers get really big really fast.)

If you’re keeping the volume on the low side (i.e. 3x5 or so) and not doing a lot of assistance work, you can cut calories pretty low. If not… well, the more you do, the more you need to eat.

It just depends on how much weight you’re moving and what else you’re doing (construction work, moving, sitting a desk, cardio, sports) how much you should eat. I don’t think you’re really going to “go wrong” with eating massive-eating style, but admittedly, I don’t think that most of the top powerlifters eat like that.

Dan “Interesting Question!” McVicker

You definitely need to eat above maintenance.