Strength Training Meal Plan

Having a strength training meal plan is vital to your fat loss success. Cardio and weights are only two components of a solid fat loss routine. Having a well crafted meal plan is just as important (if not MORE important) than anything else. Eating has become a major complication for most people.

We simply forgot how much and when to fuel our bodies. In keeping with the spirit of this site… let’s keep this page about your strength training meal plan simple. Simple yields action. Complex instructions lead to frustration. So let’s talk about nutrition using very basic facts.

Your strength training meal plan must include protein, carbs and fats. I am also going to be radical and suggest you eat 5-6 times PER DAY. I know what you may be thinking right now. “Has she lost her coconut??” No, I haven’t :)

Here are the facts:

  1. You need to eat every 2-3 hours in order for your blood sugar levels to stay even.
  2. You must eat within an hour after waking up in the morning. This jump starts your metabolism for the day.
  3. You need to eat at least 5-6 times per day. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack, bedtime.
  4. Each meal should include one protein and one carb. The protein should be lean and the carb should be complex.
  5. You need to eat the proper amount of calories per day for your goal. If you barely eat or if you get around 1200 calories or less per day, then you are most likely sabotaging your fat loss.

Your strength training meal plan should be built upon those basic nutrition facts. I do not recommend spending all day counting calories. However, I do recommend taking a few days and logging everything down.

Once you know how many calories you bring in per day, compare that against how many you SHOULD be bringing in. Use this calculator to determine how many calories you need per day to MAINTAIN your current weight.

If your goal is fat loss, then subtract 350-500 calories from that number. Most people will select sedentary or lightly active as their Activity Level. If you have a construction job or are an athlete then you can select a higher level. In the end, your strength training meal plan must include the proper amount of calories for your goal. Eating more will cause weight gain. Eating less could destroy your metabolism and cause gluconeogenesis to occur (eating your muscles for fuel).

Since each meal should be one protein and one carb, I thought I would provide a few examples.

Examples (Protein-Carb):

  • Chicken on Top of Green Salad
  • Egg Whites and Oatmeal
  • Cottage Cheese with Berries
  • Tempeh with Brown Rice
  • Salmon with Steamed Cauliflower
  • Honey Glazed Turkey with a Sweet Potato

Do you see how each meal has one protein and one carb? For the most part your strength training meal plan can include lots of veggies. Limit the fruit to 1-2 servings per day and try to eat them in the beginning of the day. If you eat meat, keep the protein sources lean (chicken, salmon, turkey, etc) and not fatty (sausage, pork, bacon, etc). If you are a vegetarian you should eat leafy green veggies, beans, tofu, tempeh, soy, cottage cheese, etc for as your protein source.

Before your workout eat a protein/carb meal. Some people can eat 30 minutes before working out and others need to eat 1 1/2 hours before working out. Find what works for you. But definitely eat before working out.

After your workout, be sure to re-fuel the body with another protein/carb meal within 30-60 minutes after you finish. A protein drink is a favorite after a workout.

I recommend keeping protein drinks and protein bars to a minimum in your strength training meal plan. You can have them, but nothing replaces good, fresh, whole foods. Nothing. If you use a protein powder or bar be sure it has low carbs and low sugar. Some bars claim to be healthy, but are nothing more than sugar sticks with protein mixed inside.

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Comments

  1. tinah123 says:

    hi everyone
    can anyone give me some tips on what to eat to lose my fat what meals can i eat .thankyou tina

  2. tinah123 says:

    hi lynn
    can you help me please i weight now 14.2st 5.1ft and i do weight training 2x week with a personal trainer and i need help to lose weight i am going away in august and i hate the way i look and feel i would like to lose the fat and get a lean look if it is imposssible what do you suggest i eat. i have been having bran flakes and skimmed milk mornings 2 toast or tuna sandwich lunch and small pieces chicken ticka with salad and mint sauce on it i drink plenty water please help.

    • Hi, tinah123.

      The first thing I would do is sit down with your trainer and express your confusion. Trainers work with what they get from you and if you aren’t clearly communicating your needs then you’re doing yourself a disservice.

      I don’t know how long you’ve been training with your trainer or if you’ve experienced any weight loss with your trainer so far…

      But based on your current height and weight… it seems to me you’d need to do a full body routine 3 times per week and 3 days of cardio.

      The weight days would be something like Monday, Wednesday and Friday and you’d do 3 sets of 12 reps for each major muscle group. You’d have a warm up and a cool down too. Before your cool down I would add in 15 minutes of medium intensity cardio.

      On cardio days, I would do cardio intervls (ex. walk then run) for 30 to 45 minutes and I would do this on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I would rest on Sundays.

      This is a very basic routine to get you moving more. If your goal is weight-loss then you have to get moving more.

      The other piece of this is nutrition. I recommend eating 4 – 6 times per day and each meal is a healthy carb and a good protein. Examples of that would be eggs with spinach, salmon and asparagus, lean chicken and cauliflower, etc. I would also drink half my weight in water.

      Again, these are very basic guidelines meant to give you a direction to move towards. Keep in mind that it will be a journey and a process… so there will be good days and bad days. This is why it’s vital to have a trainer in your corner so you have that support.

  3. Thank you for providing this info! I wanted to know if you eat the protein and complex carb for each of the 6 meals or just the 3 main meals and a snack in between?

    • Hi, Rashida.

      Thanks for commenting! I try to eat it for all 6 meals. But sometimes that isn’t possible and that’s okay. Just having healthy carbs is certainly better than eating a candy bar :)

  4. Apmiller2006 says:

    Question: What is the best way to go about losing belly/hip fat and toning up muscle at home? What kind of foods and portions should I be eating? I’m a little confused on how many calories I should be taking in daily. I’m a 27 year old mom. I’m 5.4′ and weight about 115 lbs. Where to start and what to do?? Thanks!

    • Hi, Apmiller2006.

      Well the easiest thing to do is start with how many calories you should eat to maintain your current weight: http://www.strength-training-woman.com/cpd.html

      You seem to be at a good weight (possibly under-weight) for your height. So it seems like you would benefit from strength training to add nice lean muscle. This will help reduce body fat, but keep your body strong.

      In other words, the last thing you want to do is focus solely on reducing weight. You want to reduce body fat and since you aren’t over-weight… the way for you to do that is by adding lean muscle. This will reduce body fat.

      I would eat only whole foods and lean protein sources and I would focus on strength training.

  5. Shawanasuitt says:

    Tis some great information!

  6. Imperial Gurl says:

    hey Lynn,
    its an amazing post.
    however iam a vegetarian (no eggs), and i need to lost around 30 lbs in 3 months. i can devote 30-45minutes to cardio daily.
    what diet do you recommend??
    thanx in advance !

    • Hi, Imperial Gurl.

      I’m also vegetarian :) Since I don’t know your current height, weight or body fat percentage I am unsure if 30 lbs is even possible in 3 months. That’s 10 lbs per month which is over 2 lbs per week.

      The best way to lose body fat is to eat 5 – 6 times per day. Each meal should have a protein source and a healthy carb. And ideally you’d workout 6 days per week. To keep it easy, I’d do 3 days of a full body strength training routine with maybe 15 minutes of cardio. The other 3 days I’d do 30 – 45 minutes of interval training for cardio.

      Lean protein sources for you could be: beans, nuts, vegetarian protein mix, hemp seeds, and not sure if you do dairy.. but some dairy could be considered a source (I just don’t recommend a lot of it).

      So an example breakfast could be: steel-cut oatmeal, with berries and walnuts thrown in and some flax seed sprinkled on top.

      Lunch: I like to keep it simple and do sprouted bread with Greek yogurt (instead of mayo), lettuce, tomato, black olive slices, 1 slice of real cheese, and Tofurkey “turkey/ham” slices. I also enjoy eggplant burgers instead of something like a Boca Burger (processed). The eggplant burgers also come in a box for convenience, but they are made of eggplant instead of soy and are less processed and pack in tons of protein.

      There are tons of protein sources that are not meat. Not sure if you eat fish or seafood, but there’s another option. Tofu, tempeh, kale, etc.

  7. Del-boy69 says:

    Hi Lynn,
    Good website and great info. No matter what i eat or how big/small portions, I always feel a look bloated after. Why could this be?

    Jay

    • Hi, Jay.

      Could be a gastrointestinal issue. I kinda have one (never been professionally diagnosed) but through doing lots of my own testing I think I have a little gluten intolerance :)

      I would test. Try eating super-clean for 2 or 3 days and see if that helps. Most bloating is due to what we eat and/or a food allergy.

      • Jaylis8203 says:

        Lynn,
        Thanks for the tip, I have now started to eat every 3hrs which includes a protein and a complex carb. I have lost 3lb in the last week.
        I’m starting back in the gym tonight, cardio 3 times a week and alternate days of the HIT training i used to do.

        I’ll let you know how i get on.

        Oh, and feeling a lot less bloated now too. Cheers!!!!

  8. Timothymundt says:

    Should I be eating that many times a day even if I’m working out in the morning after breakfast?

    • Hi, Timothymundt.

      Yup. The general idea is you’re eating something ever 2 – 3 hours. And that “something” is generally healthy and will not raise your blood sugar levels. The idea behind eating every few hours is that your blood sugar levels remain stable and there is no crash n’ burn feel.

      Eating every few hours definitely doe17000 calories per day for your goals, then if you divide that by 6 (meals per day) that is about 283 calories per meal. I generally like to have a larger breakfast, lunch and dinner though and then have smaller snacks.

  9. Jessicakaviani says:

    Hello Lynn.

    Thank you for posting a meal plan that makes sense and in detail.

    My only question is though when I feel my weight isn’t porportinate (legs ful and bony arms/cheast. Should I still follow what what the calorie calculator suggested for my height and age? I’m. 5’2 and 21 years old and to maintain 110 pounds it says I have to consume 1700 calories. But if I do that’s will it all go to my legs or does it just matter what I’m eating?

    I just want my body to looke even and toned but don’t know what steps to take. thank you

    • Hi, Jessicakaviani.

      Great question. Each body gains weight differently. Some people gain weight evenly all over their body and others gain weight mostly in their butt and hips. Others gain it in their belly first.

      We cannot change our genetics. And ideally you won’t be gaining fat :) If you gain anything it should be nice lean muscle.

      So eating 1700 calories to maintain your weight shouldn’t result in weight gain. If it does, try adjusting what you’re eating to more whole foods and less processed products (while maintaining the 1700 calories) and if that still doens’t work, drop it down by 100 calories per day.

  10. I would be very happy to see someone in nutrition and strength training (you, perhaps?) address the challenges faced by women who are post-menopausal. I have a sneaky feeling that the issue is so difficult to address that the “simple” gets complicated pretty quickly. Endocrinology is complicated. Hormones can be our friends and our worst enemies.

    I have started working out with a trainer, following a back and ankle injury, and my first question to him was, if my body is depositing belly fat in an effort to recover estrogen lost to ovary shut-down (fat produces estrogen), then is trying to get rid of it a losing battle? Of course, he said no, it is absolutely doable, if I have the weight training, cardio, and nutrition all in place. We shall see.

    • Hi, Lynne.

      As you said, responding can be simple, but get complicated very quickly. My general rule of thumb is that almost anyone can improve their body fat percentage with proper cardio, weight training, nutrition, sleep, hydration, etc.

      So it’s not a losing battle at all. The only time it can get more complicated is if you already have low body fat and you’re facing changing hormones… then it can get a bit tricky to work WITH Mother Nature :)

      Best of luck to you!

  11. Hello Lynn, I am a 39 year old guy wanting to lose my beer belly, build muscle and do some weight training to get cut. I understand what you have written about eating more often and smaller portions. I just wondering if you or anyone else has a sample meal menu and shopping list that I could at least use as a basis to customise it to myself.

    regards
    Shaun

  12. Proper eating is important, I get tired of the same foods, but want to avoid bad calories. My BMi is currently 18, but want to reduce more body fat – I have always been thin and I like it, but more importantly – I want to be strong. I am healthy, but it is a challenge to build muscle – it is harder being a senior citizen. My trainer definitely encourages lots of sleep and proper eating. Having a eating plan is so much more beneficial to get results.

    Thank you – good information

    • Thanks for the comment, Nancy. BMI is one measurement that only takes into account height/weight…. body fat % is a much better signal of where you are. There are so many “skinny fat” people out there and they are just as un-healthy as someone who is obese. I am NOT referring to you here… just putting this info out there for other to read. Thin does not equal healthy.

      Now, back to your post…. I also get tired of eating the same foods at times. So what I’ve done is Google’d raw or vegan restaurants and browse through their menus. I get inspiration and ideas that I can modify as needed. You can view any restaurants menu, but I prefer raw/vegan foods as they are teeming with life :)

      Good for you that you have a trainer… and eating and sleeping are MAJOR components of a healthy system.

  13. Being honest right now, I would strongly recommend this diet plan to any family, friend, or any other close relation, since the diet is strongly working out for me right now

    • Thanks for the comment, Justin! And glad eating this way is working for you. Sometimes we make something so simple (eating) into something so incredibly difficult.

      • Thanks for posting the info. After having four babies I’m all about taking care of my body. two months ago I had a tummy tuck and other surgery. The Dr. just realeased me to full activity including weight training. I know the most important part is the diet and needed help coming up with my meal plan. The info you posted helps a ton. One question, the example meal plan for a day you posted seems more like 6 whole meals rathen than three meals and three snacks. Would you eat the same things just make the snack a smaller portion? What do you think about greek yogurt? I’ve been eating that with some splenda and sugar free preserves as a snack. I don’t really want to lose any more weight I just want to tone.

        • Hi, Jennie.

          The examples above weren’t for a day… they were just examples of a protein and a carb mix. How much you eat at each meal/snack is totally dependent on your starting point, end point, goals, workout routine, etc. And I like Greek Yogurt as a healthy food… especially the non-sweetened kind where you can add your own sweetener. I eat Greek Yogurt mixed with honey, bananas, kiwis, strawberries, blueberries and some rolled oats as a meal at times when I crave something scrumptious.

  14. Love this info ………am just back strength training after thyroid removal and getting used to the medication
    my metabolism was shot for a while ……..but I can build more muscle, eat better, feel better and jump start
    my body back into shape

  15. Colm Nolan says:

    I think everything you said is completely right with what is written here but i also think you should have added in that those protein shakes and bars with a high carb count even though they are mostly sugars are benefitial post training for restoring glycogyen etc. but with the amount of corn syrup in everything these days it would probably safer and healthier to just avoid fructose except from natural sources like fruit and nuts like almonds cashew pistachios etc would be critical to include in a strenght training meal plan for pure energy and essential fats.
    By reading this i liked what I read but I just thought that this was also important information that you didn’t touch upon.

    • Hi, Colm.

      Thanks for the comment and you are right on. Generally I’ve seen shakes and bars that are nothing more than a Snickers marketed more effectively :) And I am a HUGE HUGE HUGE fan of whole foods as much as possible. Nothing beats mother nature!

      • I work out about 3 to 4 times a week with at least one other surplus activity on the side (hiking or something), and I eat similarly to the plan you’ve laid out above. I also sleep and drink enough, however all of this just doesn’t seem to be enough. I am 26, female, 5’7″ and 155lbs. My problem has been the same for years…. How do I get LEAN?? I always have this thin layer of fat over my whole body and just can’t seem to shake it. What can I do? How do I get rid of the last bit?

        • Hi, Gillian.

          Could be many things…

          1) Perhaps your routine is stale and needs a jump start. Perhaps it isn’t the right routine for your goals (ex. it may be an endurance routine and you want a lean routine). Perhaps you aren’t doing enough of the right exercises, etc.

          2) It could be that you’re eating too much, too little or too much of something like salt.

          3) It could be genetics. Your body may just love where it is right now.

          So I know that probably wasn’t helpful :) My point in going through those things is that you’re clearly not over-weight. And you’re clearly active on some level and aware of what you’re eating.

          So when it comes to the last bit of weight to lose… it takes laser focus. Like laser, laser focus :) Your eating has to be spot on, your routine needs to be spot on, etc.

          This is something that’s hard for me to figure out through a website comment so I would take a super-close look at the items above and see where you can improve and start there.

          Of course, you can also seek our a local pro that can take stock of your situation (just make sure you get a phenomenal trainer!).

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