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Foods for Strength

If you want to become very strong, you should lift heavy weights, eat carbohydrates before you lift and eat plenty of protein afterwards. Normal amounts of insulin help muscles grow, and eating carbohydrates causes your blood sugar to rise, which, in turn, causes your pancreas to release insulin. Taking in large amounts of protein after a workout helps muscles to recover faster from hard exercise, so you can do more hard work and grow larger and stronger muscles (Journal of Physiology, Volume 573, 2006).

To increase muscle strength, the weights you lift must be heavy enough to cause muscle burning while you lift and your muscles to feel sore on the next day. The soreness is caused by damage to the muscle fibers themselves. Most athletes quickly learn to lift lighter weights on as many days as it takes for the soreness to go away, and then lift very heavy weights again. The faster muscles heal from hard workouts, the more quickly you can go back to lifting heavy weights and the stronger you will become.

Insulin brings protein building blocks, called amino acids, into muscles to increase the rate of healing. Eating carbohydrates raises blood insulin levels. Protein is the building blocks for all tissues, particularly muscle. So the faster and more protein you can bring into muscle fibers, the more quickly they heal and the faster you can go back to your heavy lifting program.

Checked 12/12/12

May 10th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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