ahhh the athlete paradox, you lift weights to build essential muscle power, but you need to be lean to run/jump efficiently; yet all the training makes you so hungry 24/7 you feel the need to eat a huge veggie burger and fries just to temporarily satiate the black hole that is now your stomach. What to do?
First off, understand from whence this hunger originates. Essentially, you’re ravenous because each time you pick up your weights and blast a heavy session, you’re shredding the muscle fibres, your hunger is basically your muscles crying for the fuel they need to rebuild (GAINSGAINSGAINS). The hunger will subside slightly the more you lift, but it’s important to listen to it and deal appropriately to ensure you give your body what it needs to repair and get stronger.
Muscles thrive off of protein, so first of all try and have about 20-30g of this within an hour of finishing a session (easiest way to do this is to have a protein shake). Your body also needs carbs, as these provide the glucose required to replenish the stores you used up lifting the weights or doing plyos. Carb needs are much lower than protein following strength workouts, so I’d recommend a sweet potato, a banana, wholemeal or rye toast, or some ryevita with nut butters (added protein). You also need some fats, as this is what’ll really help to calm the raging hunger beast. Try a tbsp of nut butter or half an avocado.
As you can see, to really get the macro-nutrients needed to heal post sesh, you’re kinda going to need a sort of mini meal. This is why I like to time my training to coincide with either lunch or dinner so I can have proper food afterwards.
To make sure your muscles get the protein they need, I recommend a protein shake (vegan mixed blends or whey) immediately after the workout, and then have a proper meal as soon as possible thereafter.
To deal with the rest of the day’s hunger, high protein snacks are a godsend, I will literally devour half a can of chickpeas drizzled in fresh squeezed lemon juice, salt, cracked black pepper, and a fresh chopped tomato. Don’t be afraid to have snacks, they’re necessary to ensure your body gets the fuel it needs, muscles metabolise calories faster than fat, so the more you gain the more food you’re going to need. Cutting calories will only impede strength gains. Fruits such as apples are also good for helping hold you over until the next meal, but if you’re really ravenous, rather than constantly grazing, have a proper larger protein packed snack. Hunger is a sign you’re making gains. Embrace it.
Basically, don’t worry about gaining body fat, instead see snacks as a chance to repair and refuel. In the same way you wouldn’t expect a car to run well on cheap fuel, treat your body well and it will reward you in return. Fuel yourself with a focus on good, clean, unprocessed protein, some carbs, and a few fats, and the gains will start to roll in.