Following the Starting Strength workout and reading Ripptoe's "Clarification" follow-up article, I'm realizing that nutrition is a very crucial component to weightlifting. However, the Starting Strength book dedicates only a single page to this topic, where he recommends that kids drink one gallon of milk a day. As an adult, I can barely drink two cups of milk without destroying my stomach; his treatment of the topic is hardly a good resource for most adult amateur weightlifters. I've seen sporadic postings across the internet on how to properly eat for bodybuilding, but nothing particularly comprehensive. In my mind, a "comprehensive" discussion would entail:

  • The role of various dietary components in strength training - proteins, vitamins, carbs, oils, etc.
  • Distinctions between dietary requirements for different age groups
  • Differences between different nutrition sources (e.g., for protein, meat vs fish vs egg vs protein shakes), if any

Does anyone know of a resource which would provide at least most of the above, specific to weightlifting?

  • I think this is a good question, but way too broad. Bodybuilding, weightlifting, powerlifting and endurance training all have different requirements, and every dietary framework (whether Paleo, vegetarianism, Zone, ADA, Rip-style eat-anything) will have a different set of answers for each. I would pick either an approach (e.g. Paleo) or a goal (e.g. Olympic weightlifting) or both. What you're currently asking for is a survey of all nutritional information ever, from all perspectives, for all purposes. Feb 3, 2012 at 15:05
  • 2
    Interesting idea for a book. Essentially, what you would have would be a huge book with a flow chart. If you are this way, turn to page X; if you are that way, turn to page Y. That would continue on until you reach the end of the author's list, where he would reward you with your specific eating goal. However, I don't think that exists.
    – jp2code
    Feb 3, 2012 at 15:15
  • @jp2code specifically, it would be odd for that book to exist, since it would have to be authoritative about contradictory worldviews. "If you don't believe that eating clean matters, do a Rippetoe-style Burger-King-and-GOMAD diet. If you do believe that eating clean matters, get a cow share and join a CSA." Competing diets are often sets mutually exclusive beliefs. Feb 3, 2012 at 15:29
  • @jp2code - I'm not looking for a flowchart at all; in fact, re-reading my post, I'm not even sure what part of my question made you think I was. I'm looking for information on nutrition as it applies to bodybuilders. I listed "dietary recommendations" as a single bullet point, which could be something as simple as "have this much protein, this many total calories, and this many carbs", not "please take all information on a nutritionist would need to do their job and stick it in a book".
    – eykanal
    Feb 3, 2012 at 15:38
  • @DaveLiepmann - I see that this is too broad. I'll rephrase the question to try to restrict the target audience.
    – eykanal
    Feb 3, 2012 at 15:38

2 Answers 2


You get a lot more dietary information in the book Practical Programming for Strength Training by Dr. Kilgore and Rippetoe. However, you don't ever have a diet prescribed for you. The bottom line is that so many different approaches to diet and training produce good results that it's a matter of finding what works for you. There are some commonalities:

  • Eat plenty of protein--ranges listed are anywhere between .8g per pound to 2.5g per pound lean body weight
  • Eat carbs post workout to restore glycogen
  • Fill the rest of your dietary requirements with fat
  • Supplement your vitamins

In general, between the training and the food you eat, you are attempting to manipulate your hormones. While I'm not a bodybuilder, this reference provides a nice overview of the hormones that play a predominant role in strength training. Those same hormones are also covered in the Practical Programming book.

If you are trying to bulk cleanly (i.e. not gain a lot of extra fat), then there are several anabolic diets to choose from, including LeanGains, several on bodybuilding web sites, etc. They all have plenty of protein, an emphasis on less starchy vegetables on rest day, and more starchy vegetables and fruit on training day (bulk of it post training).


"Weightlifting" just caught my eye. Simply put:

  • plenty of protein, at least 1g per pound of body mass: red meat, fish, eggs, poultry (chicken), farmer cheese(!) --> especially after workouts.
  • complex carbohydrates: grains such as rice, buckwheat (which might be exotic, but is insanely amazing, at about 12 grams of protein and 60+ grams of carbs per 100g of product), starchy foods (potatoes); carbs are for energy throughout the day, but make sure you stock up on them after workouts. The same goes for protein.
  • fats are usually kept to a minimum.

Overall breakdown: 60% carbs, 30% protein. And plenty of water, about a glass every hour.

  • That is contrary to most weightlifting dietary guidelines I've found. The insulin spike needed from carb intake post workout is well documented, and restores the glycogen you just depleted. However, keeping the insulin spiked too much for too long leads to inducing a cortisol response as well as putting someone in an insulin resistant state. Very not good. Feb 4, 2012 at 14:07
  • Nowhere did I mention continuous carb intake.
    – Flanker
    Feb 5, 2012 at 3:34
  • It's the proportions that are off. Fats are an important part of dietary requirements--not to mention the number of fat born vitamins that are quite necessary to weightlifting like Vitamin D, and the Omega-3 balance needed as well. Feb 6, 2012 at 3:59
  • 10-20% fat intake is sufficient. As far as vitamins and fatty acids go, Centrum and what not solve the problem.
    – Flanker
    Feb 21, 2012 at 21:23
  • Besides, there is no such thing as a fat-borne vitamin. Fat-soluble -- yes, fat-borne -- no.
    – Flanker
    Feb 21, 2012 at 21:25

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