Mitchell Hooper and Stan Efferding Break Down Nutrition for Strength Athletes

The two-time reigning Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC) and 2023 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Mitchell Hooper approaches his training and nutrition methodically. He made significant changes to improve his body composition and overall performance.

On March 4, 2024, Hooper published a video on his YouTube channel wherein he dissects the role of nutrition for strength athletes with inputs from his nutrition coach Stan Efferding as part of the ‘No Stone Unturned’ series. Check it out below: 

Hooper begins by explaining the fundamentals of macronutrients:

Carbohydrates: The body’s primary energy source.

ProteinHelps rebuild bigger and stronger muscles.

Fats: Crucial for cell health and regeneration and healthy skin, hair, nails, and joints. 

Hooper stressed the importance of meeting daily macronutrient goals through nutrient-dense whole foods and monitoring micronutrient intake to avoid deficiencies.

When it comes to weight gain and weight loss, you cannot get away from energy balance — calories in versus calories out.

[Related: 2024 Arnold Strongman & Strongwoman Classic Results & Leaderboard]

High-Performance Nutrition For Strength Training

Efferding suggested that a competitive strength sport athlete’s diet and training should be designed around two goals:

Minimize injury risk

Improve long-term health

Hooper’s first meal of the day typically consists of a whey protein shake, orange juice, Greek yogurt, and rice cakes. 

Efferding recommends strength athletes keep their fat intake below 20 percent of their daily macro intake and their carb intake around 50 to 60 percent.

Clarifying his approach, Efferding opined that an athlete who weighs over 300 pounds doesn’t need to consume one gram of protein per pound of body weight in a calorie surplus, which is the typical approach for building muscle. The Vertical Diet creator explained that carbs are protein-sparing, which prevents the body from using protein as an energy source.

Protein can also be more satiating than carbs or fat, making it more challenging to enter a calorie surplus. A calorie surplus involves eating more calories in a day than you expend.

Eating is one of the biggest struggles for bigger athletes.

Another set meal for Hooper is the “Monster Mash,” which includes blending rice, ground beef, chicken broth, and vegetables.

Although research has shown that the overall daily protein intake is more important for building muscle than the timing of the protein intake, Efferding recommends strength athletes consume a high-protein meal within 30 minutes of a workout to prevent entering a catabolic state, where the body burns muscle for fuel. (1)

Taking protein and carbs postworkout [is] another feeding opportunity to get more calories.

Efferding recommends athletes trying to gain weight eat boiled potatoes two hours before their workout or at dinner, as they are packed with carbohydrates and can keep them satiated for longer.


Efferding is a proponent of vitamin D3 and magnesium supplements since they can be challenging to acquire solely from a whole-food diet.

Vitamin D can boost immunity and improve bone and skin health. Efferding recommends taking a vitamin D supplement with breakfast. A review published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that athletes supplementating with vitamin D3 experienced a 19 percent increase in their overall strength levels. (2)(3)

Magnesium can help maintain normal nerve and muscle function, regulate blood glucose and blood pressure, promote calcium absorption, and play a role in many functions, including muscle contraction, neuromuscular conduction, and the structure of bones and proteins. Efferding prescribes taking magnesium after dinner as it can help improve sleep. (4)

Hooper recommends athletes eating a surplus of calories use probiotic supplements to maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Studies have shown that probiotics can alleviate various gastrointestinal ailments and improve overall health. (5)

“Eating high-quality nutrition is something that not only elite athletes should consider but also the everyday person…trying to compete at a recreational level,” Hooper said. 


Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA, Krieger JW. The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013;10(1):53. Published 2013 Dec 3. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-10-53

Chiang, C. M., Ismaeel, A., Griffis, R. B., & Weems, S. (2017). Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation on Muscle Strength in Athletes: A Systematic Review. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 31(2), 566–574.

Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) [Internet]. Vitamin D – Health Professional Fact Sheet [updated 2020 Aug 11; cited 2021 Sep 27]. National Institutes of Health (NIH); [available from:].

Volpe S. L. (2015). Magnesium and the Athlete. Current sports medicine reports, 14(4), 279–283.

Bodke, H., & Jogdand, S. (2022). Role of Probiotics in Human Health. Cureus, 14(11), e31313.

Featured image: @mitchellhooper on Instagram

The post Mitchell Hooper and Stan Efferding Break Down Nutrition for Strength Athletes appeared first on BarBend.


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