T Nation

Strength diet?

Is there an optimal diet to follow during a strength routine? Is maintenance the best way to go? Would I be wasting food and money trying to bulk? Could I get away with a fat loss diet, or would my strength gains suffer?

The answer depends entirely on your goal.

If your goal is simply to gain strength without gaining mass then stick to maintenance level calories. If you want to add some mass while on the strength program; add a small surplus of calories above your daily calorie needs.

Any program can be used to either gain muscle or lose fat depending entirely on the accompanied diet.[as Don Alessi noted of his Meltdown programs].

The above post covered the point that you goa of either mass gain or ftloss should be considered when formulating your diet. Most the powerlifters that I’ve known rely heavily on their carb intake and regaurd it with more emphasis than any other macro. However I think I remember reading here where Louie Simmons from westside suggested that diet was bullshit, or something along those lines. And hey that’s a stron bastard so his info trumps anything any of us will say, right?

Thanks for the responses. Uncle Pauli - so you’re saying that adequate carb intake is most important for strength gains? OK. Since next week I will be starting a strength routine, my main goal is strength (bench press). I haven’t decided yet if I want to bulk, cut or maintain, as my main goal is strength. If a restricted calorie diet would hinder my progress on the bench press, then I won’t use a restricted calorie diet. I’m also asking if a bulking diet would work as well with a strength routine as opposed to a routine specifically designed for hypertrophy (EDT, HST). So should I bother trying to bulk, or should I wait until my next hypertrophy cycle? (I am not using any supplements.)

Eating a high carb diet (+50%) in effort to maximize your potential to compete in any (ex: Hammer throw, judo, powerlifting) shows a lack of understanding of the energy pathways, and eventually a lack of positive results.

When you are going for gains in strength, you are in a sense “bulking” (building your strength will lead to gains in muscle), and you should eat like it.

Your assumption that strength gain is primarily linked to muscular gain is incorrect.

All trainees can make incredible strength gains without ever putting on a pound. Simply comparing 110lbs elite female olympic lifters to 285lbs elite male bodybuilders will prove that muscle carried is not the ultimate factor in strength.

Gonna have to side with the 'hooker on this one. :slight_smile:

At some point the lifter will hit a ceiling, and will need to put on muscle mass (sometimes maintaining weight but losing BF) to futher increase their gains. That is why olympic lifters at the lower weight classes (under heavy weight) are very lean. More muscle mass equals more functional mass, not useless fat.

One more thing, compare the lifts of a 110 pound lifter to a 200 lb lifter. there is a considerable difference in strength. Also a 285 lb bodybuilder isn’t exactly the weakest guy in the gym and if he switched over to strength training, he would probably see huge gains due to the mass he was carrying.

From experience have always had far better strength gains while bulking,while my strength has fizzled while on a hypocaloric diet. Can strength be gained while eating to maintain or possibly a restricted diet? Absolutely, especially if you’re going for O lifts, or just training for explosiveness. However, I’ve always had more success eating heavy while training heavy.

Not to be a dick, but why don’t you explain about the energy pathways and why 50%+ carbs will lead to a lack of positive results?

Have to agree with Sewerhooker on this one, strength gains are based mainly on neural adaptations by increased efficiency and other complicated physiological/neural adaptations that occur more so than the diet. The energetic pathway demands of your sport or lifestyle should determine the type of diet and the appropriate macronutrient ratio of your nutritional plan to adequately support your energy demands. The 3 main energetic pathways are ATP-CP, Glycolytic, and Oxidative. Again I would suggest a 55-25-20 ratio for strength athletes maybe even a 50-30-20 ratio. This would supply adequate carbs for glycogen replacement/storage, and maintain stable blood glucose levels. It would also supply enough protein to break down into amino acids for tissue regeneration and enough lipids for hormone production and its other functions. As far as the amount of kcal consumed it depends of wether or not you want to maintain your current body weight or increase it. You do not need to increase your bodyweight to increase strength. There is a point where you will not get stronger at your current weight and at that point you would need to add size to increase strength, but that is a personal decision.

I misqoted myself, I do not agree with Sewerhooker’s statement of 50% plus carbs in diets being ignorant to the energetic pathways and leading to no results. I do agree that diet is an individual thing based on goals and lifestyle.

You may not need to increase your body weight, however there will be changes in body compostion. The point is, if increasing strength is your goal, you have better results if you eat as though you were bulking.

Firstly, I’ve just read my previous posts and realize it sounded harsh. It wasnt my intention, rather its because I rush to jot comments while I’m taking a 2 minute break at work. So plz dont get offended :P~


Secondly, rushing in an answer often leaves you wishing that you had taken the time to acurately express yourself. Anyways…

This thread can take on many directions [it already has], so let me reiterate my thoughts:
Surplus or deficiency of daily calorie intake [taking in account total energy spent] is the deciding factor on whether our weight is maintained or altered.

As someone noted above, becoming stronger has more to do with neurological adaption then anything else, having said that: adding muscle mass gives one the potential to gain greater ‘ultimate’ [not relative to one’s BW] stength.

I shouldnt have set-in-stone any macro percentage. There are too many factors one must take into account when designing nutritional and exercise regiments. In my defense; a reasonable reference point had to be established before experimentation on oneself began.

I wont attempt to explain energy pathways to you because it will only lead to more confusion [english isnt my first language, I’d probably mess it up in my native tongue to :P~]. Hopefully the MODS will permit this hyperlink: www.biofitness.com/ energy.html

AFTER the first several years of dilligent training, neurological training is generally most responsible for strength gains… before this hypertrophy training.

Dman so youre saying that initial increases in strength is due to hypertrophy and not neurological adaptations? If so then how do you explain beginners with 100-150% increases in strength within the first few months of training.

Totally off-topic, but… what, if I may ask, if your first language? And let’s face it dude, it sounds like from here you’ve mastered English perfectly. Even such nuances like sewer hookers! :slight_smile: