Having a proper weightlifting meal plan is crucial if you wish to get noticeable results. Your main goal is to find the right combination of proteins, omega-3, and essential amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and water. More importantly, a good weightlifter meal plan tells you what kind of food you need to avoid.
While it’s not always easy to maintain the right strength training diet, most of this nutrition is quite healthy for your body. Once you get used to the new regimen, you’ll feel much more energetic and ready for any exercise challenge.
A proper weightlifting meal plan combines a balanced amount of minerals, proteins, vitamins, omega-3, and essential amino acids. As for specific foods, your main focus should be on red meat, turkey, tuna, wholemeal cereals, nuts, berries, and various fruits and vegetables.
Why Proper Meal Is Important for Weightlifters?
No matter what kind of sport you’re in, diet is a vital ingredient for improving your body and achieving elite results. Not only does it provide fuel, but it also helps prevent loss of muscle mass. On top of that, eating the right stuff will make sure you're only gaining lean muscles without too much emphasis on fats.
People who are a part of weight lifting culture are considered some of the most meticulous athletes when it comes to calories and nutrients. This makes sense, given that one of the major emphasis of lifting is achieving that perfect, lean but bulky body.
So, whether you’re a male or a female, you'll need to implement a proper diet with the right balance of nutrients. Here are some of the main benefits of having the right weightlifting meal plan:
- Nutrients provide enough energy for executing arduous workouts
- Eating after workouts helps with muscle recovery and repair
- Staying hydrated when exercising helps you train harder
- Using the right plan helps you increase bulk without significantly increasing the fat percentage in your body
- Lastly, a balanced meal plan is healthy for you
While some people might think these plans are restrictive, you have much more leeway than you might think. For example, you can create a tasty and healthy vegetarian weightlifting meal plan without having to sacrifice food that you otherwise eat.
For the most part, these plans eliminate things that you otherwise shouldn’t consume, such as alcohol, added sugar, and deep-fried foods. That being said, there are also lots of indirect benefits of implementing this type of diet besides improving your physical appearance.
Distribution of Proteins, Fats, and Carbs in the Diet of Weightlifters
While you might think that proteins are the basis of a weight training diet, we're actually much more reliant on carbohydrates. This substance is crucial for muscle recovery while also ensuring we don't lose any muscle fibers along the way.
An adult male that weighs 80 kilograms has to consume 2,800 calories each day. That is if we presume he works out 4 times a week and wants to maintain the same weight. Here’s a perfect distribution of proteins, fats, and carbs for his weightlifters diet plan:
Keep in mind that these are rough estimates, and the numbers might vary with your weight. The most important thing when implementing any weight training meal plan is not to stress too much. It's not the end of the world, even if you miss by a few grams. Instead, focus on your goals and have fun during the process.
As you get more used to a specific strength training meal plan, it will become easier to assess the daily requirements, even without measuring.
Weightlifting Meal Plan for a Week
There are lots of misconceptions when it comes to weight lifting nutrition. Although you should try to focus on several specific foods, that doesn’t mean you have no leeway when creating a meal plan. In fact, when you first implement this diet, you’ll soon realize that it can be both tasty and healthy.
Here are some of the things you can implement in your meal plan:
- Meat (ground beef, salmon, tuna, chicken breast, turkey breast, sirloin steak, and cod)
- Grains (oatmeal, quinoa, cuscus, rice, and cereals)
- Fruit (apple, banana, grapes, oranges, peach, watermelon, and various berries)
- Dairy (Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, low-fat cheese, and milk)
- Vegetables (broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, green peas, cassava, cucumber, asparagus, peppers, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts)
- Legumes and beans (lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans, and kidney beans)
- Seeds (flax, chia, and sunflower)
- Nuts (almonds and walnuts)
- Oils (olive, avocado, flaxseed)
As mentioned in the previous section, you should find a combination of ingredients that will make you feel good and won't be overbearing. Here's our suggestion for a weekly meal plan:
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, pear, and oatmeal
- Snack: Greek yogurt and blueberries
- Lunch: Burger made from ground beef, Brussels sprouts, and white rice
- Snack: Banana and protein shake
- Dinner: Quinoa, asparagus, and salmon
- Breakfast: Protein pancakes with fruits and peanut butter
- Snack: Apple and hard-boiled eggs
- Lunch: Sweet potato, sirloin steak, and lettuce
- Snack: Peach and protein shake
- Dinner: Turkey breaks with pasta and a side of boiled cauliflower
- Breakfast: Chicken sausage with poached eggs, fried rice, and apple
- Snack: Cottage cheese, walnuts, and blueberries
- Lunch: Chicken breast, cooked potatoes, and mushrooms
- Snack: Grapes and a protein shake
- Dinner: Cod, brown rice, asparagus, and spinach salad
- Breakfast: Ground turkey, scrambled eggs, low-fat cheese, flaxseeds
- Snack: Oatmeal with pear and strawberries
- Lunch: Chicken breast, sour cream, broccoli, and baked potato
- Snack: Mixed berries and a protein shake
- Dinner: Stir-fry with tuna, brown rice, paprika, egg, peas, and carrots
- Breakfast: Various berries, oats, and Greek Yogurt
- Snack: A mix of nuts and seeds, orange, and beef jerky
- Lunch: Tilapia fillets with lemon juice, pinto beans, and an assortment of boiled vegetables
- Snack: Watermelon or melon with a protein shake
- Dinner: Beef steak with string beans, peas, and carrots
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, low-fat milk, avocado salsa, ground turkey, and bell peppers
- Snack: Can of tuna and apple
- Lunch: Ground beef burger, baked potato, boiled cauliflower, broccoli, and onion
- Snack: Pear and protein shake
- Dinner: Minced beef meat with black beans, tomato, cottage cheese, and rice
- Breakfast: Eggs with avocado toast, chia seeds, and various fruit
- Snack: Orange and cod filet
- Lunch: Beef steak, lightly cooked peas, potatoes, and carrots
- Snack: Apple and protein shake
- Dinner: Chicken filet, low-fat cheese, pasta, lettuce salad
Should You Eat Before Training?
You should always eat before workouts, but give your body some time to digest food. Ideally, you should have a light meal hour or two before exercising. If you ate heavy food, you might need even more than that. Otherwise, you might feel sick with food going up and down in your stomach.
Prioritize food that is fast to digest and can give you a fast influx of energy. This is especially important in the morning, as you don’t want to work out on an empty stomach. Studies show that carbohydrates are the most important nutrient prior to exercising. These substances supply the necessary energy to our bodies, allowing us to train longer and harder.
You should introduce meals that consist of 1.2 to 2 grams of proteins per body kilogram and 5 to 12 grams of carbs. Fats are also important, although they're not as crucial as the other two nutrient groups. Here are a few suggestions for pre-workout meals:
- Banana and a cup of Greek Yogurt
- Whole wheat toast and one egg
- Whole wheat toast and a few slices of chicken breasts
Another research indicates that our nutritional needs will vary significantly based on the length of intensity workouts. In the case of light, short training, you don't even have to eat or can take a small quantity of protein-rich food. However, as the intensity and length increase, you'll need more and more carbs with the same amount of proteins.
Nutrition During Strength Training
As previously mentioned, hard workouts require a balanced quantity of macronutrients in fat, protein, and carbs. If you manage to find the right proportion of biological matter, you'll be able to find lean muscle tissue while simultaneously burning fats in your body.
You don’t necessarily need any food during training. Still, we recommend that you use sports drinks high in carbohydrates. These drinks keep your blood glucose at an optimal level, helping the body adapt to different workout requirements.
Like with a pre-workout routine, the amount of nutrients will vary based on the workout intensity. While shorter training doesn't need refreshment, you'll need to replenish carbs when exercising for 90 minutes or more. Optimally, you'll need 25 grams of carbs via energy drinks every 30 minutes during these long, arduous workouts.
What to Eat After Training?
Once you're done, you should eat some carbs and a little bit of protein to promote muscle fiber repair. Although the common opinion is that you should eat in the next 30 minutes after training, some newer studies dispute this. According to these latest findings, you have about 3 hours to replenish energy.
Just to stay on the safe side, we recommend that you eat as soon as possible. Regardless of what studies might say, putting some food in your belly will make you feel much better. Here are a few snack suggestions:
- Whole wheat toast and sliced turkey
- Combination of oats, flax seeds, and cottage cheese
- Protein shake and banana
- Chocolate milk
As for nutritional requirements, you need approximately 10 to 20 grams of proteins and 50 to 100 grams of carbs. Make sure to drink a lot of water and sports drinks afterward, as well.
What Is the Difference Between Nutrition for Weightlifters and Bodybuilders?
Although both professional weightlifting and bodybuilding are dependent on proper diet and nutrition, bodybuilders introduce higher quantities of food to their bodies. Given that this activity is predicated on physical appearance, with a focus on muscle hypertrophy, these athletes have to eat more to gain more muscle mass.
Among others, bodybuilders might even use a weightlifting meal plan for cutting before competitions so they look leaner, something that's uncommon among professional weightlifters. On the other hand, competitive weightlifters are constantly trying to stay in their weight category, so they don't have an incentive to get bigger.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that weightlifters can be careless with their diets. It’s just they don’t have to worry about every calorie they put in their bodies. Furthermore, when it comes to specific nutrients, it feels that professional lifters have much more leeway for cheat days (albeit in reasonable quantities).
What Diet Is Best for Weightlifting?
How Many Meals a Day Should a Weightlifter Eat?
What Do Bodybuilders Drink?
Sergii is a professional weightlifter and National team member in the past. Competed in 94 kg w/c, won multiple medals on national competitions.
Nowadays Sergii is responsible for designing training programs, writing blog articles, doing live commentary of international weightlifting competitions, running different sport & fitness educational seminars, including Olympic weightlifting together with Oleksiy Torokhtiy all around the globe.