When it comes to fueling your body for your workouts, it's important to create balance and fuel for energy production. Here's how to fuel your body for resistance training.

Pre-workout nutrition

For a strength-based session its fairly similar to the higher intensity workouts native to fat loss, with the post-workout meal the real deal breaker. That said, tuning into how your body is affected by the particular carbs and proteins before you train may aid your performance in session. 

“There are different forms of protein, just as there are different forms of carbohydrate; there are differing sources (both flesh protein and plant based) but there are also different densities of protein called purines,” explains Cox.

“Purines are nucleo-proteins, which play important roles in our genetic structures and have very significant roles in the body’s metabolic pathways. So, if you’re one of those people who function well on higher protein and fat in your diet, you can experiment with different types of protein pre- and post-workout.”

For example, you may have more power or strength during your workout if you eat proteins that are higher in purines such as chicken thighs, steak, anchovies, caviar or organ meats such as liver. Or, if you’re one of those people who function better on higher carbohydrates and lower protein and fats, you may perform better eating low purine proteins such as legumes, chicken breast, turkey or fresh water fish according to Cox.

Turner agrees, noting that fats and proteins should be limited pre-workout, while prioritising high GI carbohydrates and foods that sit comfortably within your gut to avoid discomfort whilst training. Think 15 to 25 grams of protein, 30 to 50 grams of carbs and limited fat 60 minutes before training to allow for digestion. 

“This also ensures a faster acting response on blood glucose levels and muscle glycogen stores,” she says. 

“For example, eating a steak and veg meal prior to training means your body is working hard to breakdown what you have consumed. Steak is a food that has a high thermic effect, so it takes a longer time to breakdown and have an effect on blood glucose levels compared to that of a banana on toast.” 


Recovery meals following resistance training are particularly important for those looking to build lean muscle, or who are training at high intensity or frequency – think twice a day or less than 12 hours between sessions. Recovery carbs should be managed over the course of a day, according to Turner. 

“Up to 20 to 24 hours of sufficient amount, and type, of carbs are required to replenish glycogen levels, with both carbs and protein needed to replenish glucose supply and encourage protein synthesis respectively,” she says.

While resistance training doesn’t necessarily increase protein oxidation during the workout, it certainly has an effect once we are at rest as muscles are built up into larger, stronger versions. While specific protein requirements are heavily debated in the fitness industry, there is research that suggests protein intake shortly after a workout (30 minutes) is beneficial for both recovery and to maximise the rate and level of adaptation to exercise.

“Due to the higher levels of protein synthesis following resistance training, the post-workout meal can be an important time for the delivery of protein for maximal muscle recovery. This is particularly pertinent for the accretion of muscle mass, strength and during initial muscle hypertrophy,” says Turner.

“This might mean changing your training times and organising your post-workout meals so you can get them in as quickly as possible following your session. Be sure to keep a good quality protein shake or pre-packed meal in your gym bag to maximise your hard work and keep those gains.”

Try to include your high, GI recovery carbs with about 25g of protein and limited fats. The type and quality of protein is again important.

“It’s recommended a high quality dose of protein such as dairy, egg or lean meat post- workout is beneficial to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis. These proteins are fast-digesting, so emptied from the stomach at a greater rate,” says Turner. 

“Proteins from a WPI shake, low fat milk (has been shown to be superior to soy proteins) or chicken breast contain the branched chain amino acid leucine, which has been shown to further assist with building muscle and burning fat. Keep those fast absorbing, high quality proteins for post-exercise.” 

Read the full article by Katelyn Swallow in the April 2017 edition of Women's Health and Fitness magazine.