Nutrition for Strength Training

Protein plays an important role in building muscle.

Kari Collett, RDN, LDN, CLT with A to Zinc Nutrition, LLC

Everyone seems to have their own ideas about strength training and nutrition. Most of the time, the biggest challenge people face with strength training is what to do in the kitchen to prepare and eat the right foods to support their goals. Despite all the ideas available about what is best, the right foods for one person are typically very different from that of another person.

What is strength training?

Strength training is a form of exercise that is designed to improve strength. The process of muscle building is usually done by performing resistance exercises. Resistance exercise can involve the use of weights, exercise bands, or the weight of a person’s body. Muscles break down during exercise. After working out, muscles repair the break down which in turn builds muscle.

There is a broad spectrum of activity that falls under the strength training umbrella. Some individuals engage in weight training enough to maintain current strength and muscle mass with the intention to prevent muscle wasting often associated with aging. Others are much more aggressive and engage in strength training to build muscle that exceeds the normal requirements for daily living; some may even build enough muscle mass to compete in various levels of weightlifting and strength competition.

What is the key role of nutrition for strength training?

The breakdown and building process of muscle requires specific nutrition directly before and after a workout to support muscle gain and prevent muscle loss. If one does not consume adequate protein before and after a workout, muscle may not be built back to full potential and it will be lost; on the other hand if adequate food and protein is eaten after a workout then more muscle will be built. Strength training takes time and commitment from a workout perspective, but for the best results exercise also includes a nutrition component.


Protein is important when participating in strength training because it is the primary building block of muscle. To gain muscle, a person must build more protein than they break down. Therefore, when training, eating enough dietary protein to make up for the protein broken down during exercise becomes necessary to maintain a net positive protein balance. While there is an emphasis on protein, a wide variety of other whole foods such as vegetables will keep the diet nutrient dense. Calorie requirements vary greatly, depending on the athlete. A good rule of thumb for a 2000 calorie diet while strength training is 20% calories from protein, 50% calories from carbohydrates, and 30% calories from fat. This will vary, of course, depending on the goal of the individual.

Personalization is Key

Calorie and protein recommendation personalization is best all around. No two people are exactly alike! Getting professional guidance can help individuals reach their goals without compromising muscle strength and nutrition integrity.

To learn more about personalizing your strength training plan, schedule a free Discovery Call:

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