How To Use Nutrition To Get Stronger Faster
If you’re like most lifters I work with, you know that somehow nutrition is somewhat linked to better outcomes in the gym, but the majority of athletes don’t really start thinking about nutrition unless considering trying to make changes to their physique.
If this is you, buckle up, because I’m about to introduce you to the world of performance-based nutrition that gives all my clients a serious advantage in terms of getting stronger faster and creating longevity in their sport (and life!).
First, let’s talk about what performance-based nutrition is.
This is an intentional way of eating (total calories, macronutrient distribution, food quality, and meal timing) that places a massive emphasis on not only fueling your training sessions properly, but fueling your recovery from training so that you are more recovered going into the next session which will allow you to push even harder (but weights will fly rather than grinding through them).
Here’s a really great example of a world class powerlifter I’ve been working with for several months. He’s been training seriously for decades and those beginner gains are long gone.
At this point, anything that we can do to move the needle even 1-3% each week is a huge win. When I helped him dial in his post-training meal for better recovery he went from being able to take 5lb jumps on most lifts from week to week to a whopping 15lb, 20lb, and 45lb increases in weights from week to week!
This is absolutely unheard of in advanced lifters… or is it?
I argue most lifters haven’t been taught the power of true performance-based nutrition and are leaving a lot of gains in the squat rack.
Now could there have been other variables that led to this lifter's success in training? Absolutely. I cannot claim that it was all nutrition related, but knowing what I know and the experiences I’ve had working with lifters for 20 years, I think the change in nutrition had a LOT to do with it.
I’ve come up with 5 fundamentals of performance nutrition to become fiercely fueled:
- Fuel Delivery: Food quantity and macronutrient distribution
- Fuel Fresh: Food quality - greater emphasis on whole, minimally processed foods than processed or convenience foods (though those can definitely be part of a balanced diet)
- Fuel Strategy: Pre & Post-training meal make-up and timing get my free guide here
- Fuel Rest: Proper sleep hygiene to make getting 7-9 hours of sleep/night possible
- Fuel Refresh: Targeted stress management because our bodies can only handle so much physical + psychological stress in a given day, this makes more room for physical stress from training
You might be asking yourself, “how is this different from any other style of eating, especially methods that rely on tracking macros?”
That’s a great question. I’ve found that the majority of the nutrition information that’s widely available to lifters stems from the bodybuilding world. In bodybuilding the emphasis is placed on getting big and jacked and leaning out. Total weight lifted does not matter in bodybuilding.
Does this mean one can’t accomplish those physique changes with performance nutrition? Absolutely not, but there are a few key differences in how we go about doing that.
First, the emphasis in performance nutrition is always placed on… PERFORMANCE. This means all decisions first go through the filter of “how is this impacting performance?”
I know what you are thinking, “I did a cut and lost strength, but it’s okay because it came back after.” What if you used a method where instead of losing strength on your cut, you maintained or even gained strength???
THAT is the fundamental difference between physique-based nutrition and performance-based nutrition. We can get to the same end goal, but get you waaaay stronger in the process.
Performance-nutrition also says “hey, did you know that if you’re happy with your body composition you can just eat to support your training and recovery without having to try to get lean?!”
A funny thing happens when lifters are in that stage and focus on performance-based nutrition… they feel amazing, gain a better relationship with food, and frequently end up having changes to their body composition without even trying, just because they properly gave their body everything it needed. Performance nutrition is a way of working with your body instead of fighting against it.
So by now you’re thinking, “great! Where do I start?!”
Without knowing anything about you as an individual and your overall caloric needs, I’ve found in these situations starting with the “low hanging fruit” of pre and post-training meals give us a HUGE bump in performance and recovery. You can get my pre/post-training meals guide here.
Happy training and stay fierce!!
Dr. Kristin Lander, DC, CISSN is a chiropractic physician, certified sports nutritionist, and podcaster. She teaches lifters how to properly fuel themselves to get more out of their training sessions, recover harder, and get stronger faster through utilizing performance-based nutrition and recovery tactics.
Kristin has worked at the intersection of health care, fitness, and sports for 22 years. In 2015 she took her nutrition practice online and founded Fiercely Fueled Nutrition, the global leader in performance nutrition coaching for strength athletes, and has now coached hundreds of athletes and over 25 who have gone on to win national and world titles as well as set world records in their respective strength sport.
An athlete herself, Kristin has competed internationally in both Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting.