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3 Common Strength Nutrition Mistakes

If you struggle to feel motivated when going to the gym, feel sluggish, uninspired, or lack energy, and you aren’t sure why, your nutrition may need tweaking.

I repeatedly see three major things when it comes to women who have an active lifestyle but aren’t feeling as good as they expected. Tune in to hear what they are!

Listen to Your Body 349 - 3 Common Strength Nutrition Mistakes

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Key Takeaways

Three Things To Watch Out For Nutrition Wise When You Are Training Hard Are:

  1. Being too low carb 
  2. Skipping meals
  3. Only eating when you feel hungry

Learning and Unlearning

If you are engaging with medium or high-intensity activity, your body needs fuel and energy throughout the day. This means eating regularly, fueling yourself with the right types of foods, and listening to your body’s hunger signals. 

We have been taught that carbs are the enemy and that skipping meals is okay if you don’t feel hungry, which is just not the case. While these ‘rules’ may be well-intentioned, they are problematic and require a lot of learning and unlearning in this space.

The Three Things Standing in the Way of Your Results

The truth is, if you don’t take in enough energy, you will feel like shit. We need to use a combination of listening to our bodies but also logic to nourish ourselves and, in turn, see the results we are hoping for at the gym. 

If you are lifting weights and want to get stronger and build muscle, you have to have a strong base of nutrition. Carbs, regular meals, and eating to fuel your body are essential to helping you get the results you want in your muscle gain and also your energy levels.

Are you ready to embrace nutrition in order to improve your overall game? Share what goal you are working towards with me in the comments below.

In This Episode

  • Some common problems that women who lift weights run into in terms of nutrition (4:10)
  • Why being too low carb could actually be hurting your results in the gym (6:01)
  • How to stop skipping meals for better overall health (13:30)
  • The role of the Tokyo Olympics when recognizing pre-menopausal women athletes (17:35)
  • Tips for avoiding the trap of only eating when you are hungry (21:20)


“Dame Maggie Smith playing Professor McGonagall, and she says to Hermionie and Ron and Harry, ‘why is it that when something happens, it is always you three?’. It kind of brought up this sort of comical reel that I made but with a really serious message behind it.” (5:37)

“I’ve been in and around the strength training community for now over a decade. I have, myself, been lifting for over a decade and been coaching for many years now. And I see this happening with monotonous regularity. So, is it happening to everybody? Probably not. Is it happening to a big chunk of folks? From my experience, it is.” (8:17)

“I think what we are seeing is a lot of things converging at one time. Obviously, there is the recognition now and the desire to say hey, pre-menopausal women haven’t been represented super well in a lot of this research.” (18:03)

“You don’t have to be an elite athlete to have this challenge, and skipping meals sometimes, oftentimes, makes it more difficult to get in the amount of energy, and other things like protein, that someone who is lifting weights and interested in building muscle tissue really needs to provide in their daily intake in order to make that stuff happen.” (20:36)

“Does your body have fail-safes? Of course! Your body is miraculous and wonderful and has all sorts of clever ways to do things like access stored energy and this and that. But when this becomes a pattern over time, especially if you do have access to food, this is something to consider turning your attention toward.” (25:29)

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3 Common Strength Nutrition Mistakes FULL TRANSCRIPT

Steph Gaudreau

The Listen To Your Body podcast is all about helping women who lift weights get stronger, fuel themselves without counting every bite of food performed better in and out of the gym, and take up space. I’m a strength coach, nutritional therapy practitioner, and certified intuitive eating counselor, Steph Gaudreau. This weekly show brings you discussion about building strength, without obsessing about food and exercise, lifting weights, food, psychology, and more. You’ll learn how to eat, train, recover, listen to your body, and step into your strength. Hit subscribe on your favorite podcast app and let’s dive in.

Okay, so you’re lifting weights and training hard. And something is just not quite right. You’re not feeling great, you’re struggling to feel motivated in the gym or to get to your workouts. You’re feeling sluggish, uninspired, lack of energy, and noticing that you’re not able to really lift the way your program says, What is going on? Well, if you’re like lots of women in my community, there are three common things that could be standing in your way in terms of Nutrition. In this episode, I am going to detail these three things to watch out for nutrition-wise, when you’re lifting weights and training hard so that you actually get the results that you want.

What’s up, my friend, welcome back to the podcast. Thanks for being here with me today. As always, I’m here for a solo show today, which is a bit of a change the last several weeks, I have welcomed some incredible guests to the podcast. If you haven’t yet dug into those episodes, I highly recommend that you do so some of my most favorite people have dropped by the podcast to share their knowledge and expertise with you. But it’s high time that I jumped back here for some solo episodes. And today is no exception. I’ve been spending the last few months, actually since March or April of 2021. in development for this a brand new group coaching program that I launched around the beginning of August or so. And this is really all about strength, nutrition, the nutrition in feeling that we need to lift weights if we’re lifting weights, and we want to get stronger and build muscle, of course, what are some of the things that you need to know. And so I’ve been not only developing that over the last several months but now have kicked off that program. So having some guests allowed me the space to really go deep into making sure that I’m delivering the best possible kick-ass program, especially if you’re someone who wants to learn how to do this, you’re lifting weights a few times a week, you want to get stronger, build muscle, have more energy perform better in and out of the gym.

But you also don’t want to micromanage every single bite of food that you eat. This is really my wheelhouse. And this is what I’m doing in this new group program. If you want to get on the waitlist while I’m mentioning it for the next round, then you can do that by going to Steph slash link, Steph slash link, or go ahead and check out my Lincoln bio on Instagram and you’ll see the waitlist there. So leading up to the launch of this first round of the program. I really was doing a lot of education, especially on Instagram stories about some of the common problems that women who want to lift weights or are lifting weights run into when they are getting into the nitty-gritty of fueling and nutrition aspect of this. And so today I wanted to bring you three things. These are three very common ones that I run into a lot in my community because frankly, I still have a lot of people in my community from the early paleo days and they’re on a journey and experiencing what it’s like to distance themselves sometimes from some of the things that they’ve learned or at least to question some of the things they’ve learned.

And so these are three things that I see happening quite a bit. I was also really got a kick in a chuckle out of this that I found in audio to make into a real on Instagram. So if you’re not following me there on Insta, that’s where I hang out for the most part on social media these days, and it is an audio clip from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince of Dame Maggie Smith playing Professor McGonagall. And she says to her mighty and Ron and Harry, why is it when something happens? It is always you three, there’s my sad attempt at a British accent. But nevertheless, it just kind of brought up in my mind, this sort of comical reel that I made, but with a really serious message underneath it. So today on the show, I’m talking about these three things to watch out for. When you’re lifting weights training hard, you have a really active lifestyle, maybe you’re doing some higher intensity cardio stuff in there as well. And you’re just feeling like, Why do I feel so shitty.

So let’s take a look at some of the common things that happened with nutrition. Alright, so the first thing is being too low carb, I have several ones on one client. And this is a very common thing that they struggle with. I’m thinking about one client in particular, who through basically being in a paleo-type community for a while, ended up becoming lower and lower and lower-carb as she went along. The challenge or problem or the mismatch is that she was also doing a lot of CrossFit and still is doing CrossFit which is a higher intensity, more glycogen demanding kind of exercise in and of itself.

And so we’ve had some chats about bringing carbohydrates back in. And one of the things that she very candidly told me is, you know, I’m afraid to bring these back in, don’t want carbs to make me gain a lot of weight. And so there’s a lot of misinformation and a lot of kind of bad game of telephone, that’s really persisted in some of these communities, especially where there’s a lot of lifting going on. Or people have really active lifestyles or exercise quite a bit. And they don’t feel good. So I want to also put a caveat on this is like, if you’re doing any of these things that I’m talking about on this show, and you feel amazing. Two things, one, see where you’re at in a few months, especially if they’re relatively new change. And if you start to notice some undesirable things happening with your energy levels, your mood, et cetera, et cetera, sex, drive, sleep, you name it, just put a bookmark in that, okay.

And the second thing is, is if it’s been more than that time, and you just are, you’re just loving it, and it works perfectly for you, then perhaps this isn’t the episode for you, but much like my client that I was telling you about earlier. I see this repetitively I’ve been in and around the strength trading community for now over a decade, I have myself been lifting for over a decade have been coaching for many years now. And I see this happening with monotonous regularity. So is it happening to everybody? Probably not, is it happening to a big chunk of folks, from my experience it is. And so that’s why I’m doing this show. So if you don’t feel like this really applies to you, I still have a lot of love for you, I’m just probably not here to speak to you, in particular on this episode. So here’s the thing.

If you’re not very active, you may be able to handle a lower carb intake. But what I tend to see is that women who are active oftentimes start making swaps or store changes, they start switching out higher carbohydrate density, for example, whole grains or higher carb foods. And I’m talking about things like boring carbohydrates as what I call them boring carbs, like oats and potatoes and whole grains and that sort of stuff. As opposed to the things that we are afraid of eating or pointing the finger at and going see carbs are really bad for us, which is tends to be things that are a hype more hyper-palatable carbohydrate, it’s usually paired with a lot of fat, so things like donuts and cookies and brownies and cake and all the things that you know, we’re afraid of, as well.

You know, there’s a little bit of a difference there because I don’t know anyone on planet earth who is like I when I get oatmeal in front of me, especially if it’s not crammed with sugar or other things to make it tastes like extra delicious. I don’t know anyone that’s like I just can’t control myself and I just keep eating it and eating it and eating it. So there’s a lot of confounding things going on here. But I’ll say, for the most part, if you’re really active, you generally need a higher carbohydrate intake because especially if you’re doing things like lifting, you’re using your muscle glycogen. And especially if you’re doing, you know, even moderate-intensity cardio, higher intensity cardio, Yes, for sure you are using up the stored glycogen in your muscle and the easiest way to replace it is to eat those carbohydrates.

Now, if you’re afraid of when to do it, then I recommend in general now I’m speaking to 1000s and 1000s of people here at the same time, but your mileage may vary. In general, you may want to start experimenting with adding in after your workout. So if you’re afraid to eat carbohydrates, potentially the best time to put it back into your routine is in that post-workout window. And I don’t mean like, Oh my gosh, 30 minutes and it slammed shut. But you know, in the meal that you eat after you work out, you may want to include it there. So also, you know, notice how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling unmotivated, you don’t want to work out, you’re really unfocused, you have a hard time concentrating not just during a workout, but at work in your life. If you’re feeling ravenous, prone to ravenous hunger, followed by you know what set what feels like a binge episode, if you sort of eat real light throughout the day, and then you get to the evening time and you have dinner, but then all you want to eat is sugar after dinner.

These are some of the things that I see in my clients, which is they’re really eating pretty low, they’re not eating very much in general in the morning, and then sometimes even around lunchtime. And then oftentimes the carbohydrate intake is really low. Along with that. So take note, I mean, even when you’re trying to make you know, and I’m using air quotes here, healthier swaps, healthier switches. And this happens a lot in the Paleo space, obviously, in the low carb space where it’s like, well, instead of rice, I’ll have cauliflower, rice, the carbohydrate difference between those two things is quite significant. So I’m not saying cauliflower rice is bad, or vegetables are bad in any way, shape, or form. But what I am saying is sometimes you’ll accidentally, even though you’re trying to make better, again, air quotes, better choices, you may notice.

Or you may not notice, you may kind of be noticing that your feet of these other things are decreasing or declining, your energy, your mood, all the things I mentioned earlier, when you really take a look at what you’re eating, you may notice that you’re eating less, a lot less energy than you need. Okay, so that is the first and look I could I could literally spend hours talking about this, and this is why I’m doing my group program. So if you’re interested in this stuff, and you want to get more into it and learn how to win and all that stuff, get your tickets on the waitlist, okay. Or get on the waitlist for one on one coaching. Because we do that there too. Okay, so the first thing was being too low carb. The second thing is skipping meals.

Oh, gosh, I could rant about this. And some of you are probably going to hit me up in the DMS and say, You should have ranted more about this. Cuz y’all like it when I rant. So here’s the thing. We need to keep some perspective. And again, your individual mileage may vary on this. But suffice to say I’m speaking in general terms. Here’s the thing, every so often is skipping a meal going to ruin your gains.

I mean, realistically, no. I think sometimes we have a tendency to get way too granular, in the sense that we feel like when we’re talking about I just sounded really Canadian there, huh? When we’re talking, we just hung out with our friend who’s Canadian, and I honestly think I just mirrored him there.

Anyhow, when we’re you know, when we’re thinking about strength, nutrition, or performance, nutrition, those sorts of things. A is the, you know, the overall training volume you’re doing definitely plays a role. So if you’re somebody who’s hitting it super hard every day, you know, you’re an or an elite athlete, you know, those sorts of things. Your tolerance for fucking around is probably a lot smaller in terms of continuing to skip individual meals and stuff like that, in the general sense is skipping a meal now and then going to record all of your progress and prevent you from gaining muscle. And I know I mean, let’s be, let’s be realistic here. But here’s where it gets tricky. If this is something that’s happening on a more consistent basis, over time, this becomes a habit, this becomes a pattern.

There’s something in your schedule that you haven’t figured out, you need some kind of reflection point to turn it back around and say, wait for a second, I realized that I’m not taking in very much energy in my day. And a big chunk of it is because I’m not eating this meal, or I’m skipping this meal and I’m hot, I’m finding it hard to eat a day’s worth of food in a compressed window of time. This may be applicable to you. So here’s the thing in general, that I will say that I see. Again, this is me coming from coaching and sort of nutrition strategist, lens. And then also seeing what the research says on this as well is that it can be harder to get the amount of energy intake that you need in a day, in a compressed window of time, meaning you skipped a meal, and now you have less time to eat. So you theoretically would require yourself to eat more food in those remaining meals than you would if you were spreading them out throughout the day.

For some people, that’s not a problem. But for many people that I work with it is a problem either because of logistics, they’re busy doing other things stuck into their work, and really barely even picking their head up for air. Whatever the case is, there are also sometimes people who, because of their relationship with food in a past history of dieting, or food restriction, really have a hard time with the idea of putting more food on their plate in order to get to a place where they’re not deficient in energy intake. And you might think, well stuff, I’m not an elite athlete. So this probably doesn’t apply to me.

And the thing is that reduced or low energy availability is not unique to elite performers or elite competitors. Here we post Tokyo Olympics. And the big news headlines coming out of some sports have been something to the effect of our women athletes started to eat more. And shockingly, they did a lot better. I think what we’re seeing is a lot of things converging at one time, obviously, there is the recognition now and the desire to say, hey, premenopausal women haven’t been represented super well in a lot of this research, whether it’s sports nutrition, or it’s the effect of exercise, all of that stuff, understanding women’s physiology.

And I think there’s also the prevalence now or the increase in doing things like tracking of the menstrual cycle and talking about perimenopause and menopause and not keeping it so much of a secret. So I think that these things are natural progressions. All this is to say is that now at least at this point in time, there is a huge lens being turned on, yes, elite women athletes, and the shocking percentage of them that are not eating enough to support their energy intake, and then are at risk for not only low energy availability but also the syndrome called Red s, which used to be called female athlete triad. And now it has been termed reds to acknowledge the fact that it’s not just happening in women, that low energy intake can have health consequences in all humans who participate in sport and that acronym again was reds. And that is relative energy deficiency in sport. And this is becoming more talked about. There are organizations that are helping to sort of test and assess their female athletes or women athletes for this deficiency and energy intake relative to their activity level. However, in 2016, there was a study that came out of New Zealand that looked at recreational women exercisers, not quote-unquote elite athletes.

And the results of that study indicated that almost 50% of the women who participated were at risk for low energy availability, which we can translate to mean, they were not eating enough relative to their activity level. So again, you don’t have to be an elite athlete to have this challenge and skipping meals. Sometimes, oftentimes, it makes it more difficult to get in the amount of energy and other things like specific protein, that someone who’s lifting weights and is interested in building muscle tissue really needs to provide in their daily intake in order to make that stuff happen. There’s like this is obviously top of mind for me. So I’m spinning a lot of things at you right now, I definitely am planning to go more into depth on these different topics in the future, but this is just kind of an overview. Alright, so to recap, number one, to low carb number two, skipping meals, and thus finding it difficult to eat enough energy throughout the day.

Number three, this is the third thing to watch out for when you’re lifting weights and training hard with your nutrition. The third thing is the trap of, well, I’m just supposed to eat when I’m hungry, right. And this is kind of related to number two, but it is a little bit different in so far as yes, a lot of the people I work with are interested in a more relaxed approach, I guess I would call it that to food rather than counting, weighing, measuring and logging. And because many of them have learned some of the principles of intuitive eating, even for me, there’s a tendency to turn that into a hunger and fullness diet. So here’s the thing, when you have a good handle on your hunger signals, and you’re able to implement logic, and understanding your own schedule, and things of that nature, then this probably doesn’t apply to you. But there are lots and lots of women that I work with who are struggling with this concept. And they say things like Well, I’ve heard that I should just eat when I’m hungry and not when I’m full.

To me, this saying is along the lines of just eat less and move more, it is probably well-intentioned, however, for the individual needs to be carefully considered. And there’s nuance here. But I will say that there are lots of reasons why you might not have a strong sense of your hunger signals at the present moment, including things like you may be taking certain medications that affect your appetite, you may have an increase in anxiety, for example, which can dampen your appetite, you may be very stressed, you may have a lack of familiarity with your own signals and what they are especially, I use the analogy of a Polaroid picture, right? Typically, things like hunger and even fullness

Come on quite gradually, more subtly, before they get really loud or really developed. And a lot of us have really lost touch with what those more subtle signs and signals are. Because it’s not always speaking of hunger, a nine or empty or rumblings sensation in your stomach. Other people notice things that are related to, for example, their blood sugar dropping, that is an early sign an indicator that it’s going to be time to eat soon.

And obviously, there’s a huge part that diet culture plays here that, you know if we’ve ever been on a diet or plan that tells us when to eat and how much we’re allowed to eat. And there can definitely be a lot of learning and unlearning that has to happen here. But here’s what I want you to avoid. I want you to avoid this scenario that you think well I don’t feel hungry, so I didn’t eat most of the day. And that goes on day after day after day. Because you’re going to be at a lower energy intake state. And you’re probably going to feel pretty shit. Let’s be honest. So even if you’re not feeling particularly hungry, and a lot of people have a sense of the ravenous hunger of like, I’m hangry or get the fuck out of my way. I need to eat something right now. That kind of hunger.

But if you’re not having those more subtle signs, you still need to eat. You still need to eat, does your body have fail-safes, of course, your body is miraculous and wonderful and has all sorts of clever ways to do things like access, stored energy, and this and that. But when this becomes a pattern over time, especially if you do have access to food, this is something to consider turning your attention toward. Right, one time, I had a very lovely person in my Facebook group.

And she was talking about how she’s starting to learn more of her hunger signals. And she came to the group one day and said something to the effect of I’m so proud of myself. I’ve been paying attention to my hunger signals, and I wasn’t hungry all day. So I didn’t eat. And I just thought, Okay, this is Ben taken to literally write. So yes, hunger signals are important, but we also have to use logic. And we also have to remember that we need to eat. And if we are physically active, we need more energy. And if we were not physically active, for our bodies to function and run and to fuel our activity level. So just because you don’t feel particularly hungry doesn’t mean that logically you don’t need to eat. And I was also on Instagram a few weeks ago, I appreciated that dietician Anna, who’s amazing, was talking about another example of this, when it feels hot outside, it’s hot outside, some people feel like their appetite isn’t as strong.

It doesn’t mean that you don’t need to eat, even though you’re feeling hot, or like food isn’t the most appetizing. And certainly, maybe it’s time to eat something that does feel easy to digest, or is cooling, or is easy to eat, or is palatable to you at the moment. But it doesn’t mean Oh, well, I’m just not going to eat today. And then that happens meal after meal day after day. And now we’re in a bit of a pickle. So these are the three things that I talked about in my reel. And I decided to turn it into this podcast episode because I know that there’s somebody out there who is going to strike a chord. So to really quickly recap, we talked about three things today to watch out for nutrition-wise, when you’re lifting weights and training hard. The first one was going to low carb, the second one is skipping meals. And the third one is only eating when you feel hungry, instead of thinking about fueling your body.

So that does it for this episode. A few things. First of all, if any of this resonated with you, and you’re like yes, stuff, I want to work with you on this, you have two options currently. The first is to get on the waitlist for my one on one strength nutrition unlocked group program. Currently, we are in session, and so the waitlist is open for that I will be opening the waitlist, I think probably around the end of September, certainly to kind of stay tuned for that it’s not all that far away from the recording of this podcast in all actuality. So go ahead and get your name on the waitlist. If you want to work with me, it’s the closest way you can work with me without working with me one on one. And then of course, the second option is to get on the waitlist for one on one coaching. And this is where we go deep. I know everything about you there is to know and I am your collaborator in this process to really help you overcome the different sticking points that you have to understand your personality, your preferences, your goals, your needs, your desires, the things you really want to accomplish, put them in a priority list, and then help you work on them a little bit at a time so that you actually experience success, and we build off that. And I love my one on one clients so much. They’re all so freakin badass.

So if that sounds interesting to you, and you’re like, Yes, I just I’m ready to do this. Then get on the list for one on one coaching. And I’m going to send out periodic updates when those spots are open and available. You can get the transcript for this episode cuz, look, I know I talked really fast on this episode, I had a lot to say. It’s high on my mind. It’s really something that I love talking about. And so I did talk really fast if you want to get the transcript and go ahead and check out my episode transcripts on my website If you liked this episode, and something stood out, go ahead and share it on Igy stories and tag me I want to see it and really it means so much when you do that because like my wonderful guest, Molly Galbraith talked when talked about when she was here a few months ago when you amplify someone’s work.

It is so important when you share a woman’s work in the world. It’s extra important so I’m so thankful for all of you who share about the podcast and the episodes on IG stories. It means a ton. So thank you for that. And also subscribe to the podcast on your favorite app. It costs nothing for you. But this is a way to again amplify and say, Hey, I love this podcast, maybe to show it to some other people who haven’t seen it yet. Thanks so much for joining me this week. I’ll be back next week with another episode for you. I hope today was helpful and informative. And until next week, stay strong.

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Hi, I'm Steph Gaudreau, bs, ma, cissn!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.


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