Weight Loss Strategies For Athletes Part 2
We are all impatient, especially with issues like weight loss. We want to lose the weight as fast as possible and we want to see results within a week, but unfortunately this is not realistic. Although it is possible to lose weight rapidly, this will be mostly water and will reduce performance and the ability to train. Weight loss has to occur slowly and we will have to be very patient. Runners often try to achieve weight loss during the competitive season, and this will result in under performance.
Another approach that runners have tried in the past is not eating in the morning and sometimes even skipping lunch. This is not advised because it will increase hunger feelings later in the day; with one single very large meal, the reduction in intake can easily be compensated. When losing body weight, there is always the risk of also losing some muscle mass. However, this can partly be prevented by consuming relatively large amounts of carbohydrate. Because it is difficult to train hard when the energy intake is reduced, it is advised to achieve weight loss during the off season.
Below are a number of guidelines that might help to achieve weight loss:
- Determine a realistic body weight goal. The help of a sports dietician is likely to be needed to identify a realistic target weight.
- Do not try to lose more than 500gms per week and do not restrict energy intake by more than 500 – 750 kcal per day.
- Eat more fruit and vegetables.
- Try to choose low–fat snacks.
- Study food labels and try to find substitutes for high fat foods. Do not only look at fat content but also the energy content per serving.
- Limit fat add–ons such as sauces, sour cream and high fat salad dressings or choose the low fat version of these products.
- Try to structure your eating into five or six smaller meals.
- Avoid eating very large meals.
- Make sure carbohydrate intake is high and consume carbohydrates immediately after training.
- Increase the volume of aerobic training to promote fat oxidation. Ideally this exercise is performed daily for at least one hour at a fairly intense level although it should not be so hard that talking is a problem.
- A multivitamin and mineral supplement may be useful during periods of energy restriction. You should seek the advice of a nutritionist or dietician.
- Measure body weight daily and get measurements of body fat regularly (every two months) and keep a record of the changes.
Many of these guidelines need specific nutrition knowledge and therefore you are encouraged to seek the advice of a qualified registered sports dietician.