While more women than ever before are reaping the numerous health benefits of weight training, most still have an underlying fear of “getting bigger” or “bulking up”. But, believe it or not, there are still many women with the ever so unique goal of building significant strength and muscle mass (hypertrophy) with weight training. If you’re part of this selected group of women, it’s important to know that adequate nutrition is equally as important as training.
To give you a better understanding of what it takes, I’ve compiled a list of dietary strategies that’ll effectively support gains in muscle strength and hypertrophy during weight training.
Monitor Your Carbohydrate Intake
Adequate carbohydrate intake is essential during weight training, but for women trying to build muscle strength and size, more isn’t necessarily better. In general, carbs are necessary for enhancing muscle glycogen stores, which serve as fuel during weight training, especially when blood glucose (sugar) levels are low. Problem is, women tend to use less glycogen than men during training and they also store less from carbs.
So, in order to reduce the likelihood of excess carbs being stored as fat instead of glycogen, you should always monitor your intake when training. The major of your carbs should come from leafy green and root vegetables, legumes and low-sugar fruits as opposed to grains and starchy vegetables.
Consume Ample Amounts of Protein
Sufficient protein intake is extremely important for women seeking to enhance muscle strength and hypertrophy while weight training. It’s best, to choose high-quality protein sources that contain all essential amino acids such as lean meats, skinless poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy foods, and soy products. Other potentially good sources of high-quality protein include whey, egg white, casein and soy-based supplements.
For maximum gains, aim to consume between 0.64 and 0.82 grams of protein for each pound of your body weight.
Add Healthy Fats to Your Daily Diet
Fatty foods are especially beneficial for women who wish to bulk up with weight training, as regular intake of such foods has been shown to beneficially alter hormonal levels in a way that promotes muscle hypertrophy. When consumed regularly, fat can naturally boost testosterone level. Testosterone is the male hormone that’s responsible for the development of large muscles.
Opt for healthy sources that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids including salmon, tuna, egg yolks, nuts and nut butters, flax and chia seeds, olive oil, and avocado. To reap maximal benefits, shoot for no more than 0.37-0.52 grams of total fat for each pound of your body weight.
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