Photo: Haley Barton
Some athletes have a few pesky pounds that they’d love to drop before their next event. But it can be very difficult to lose weight, even while following a rigorous training regime.
The challenge lies in trying to lose fat, retain muscle and stave off hunger, all the while fuelling for your relentless workouts. Can it be done? Sure, keep it simple by following these 3 easy steps.
Figure out how many calories you need a day to maintain your current weight.
You can use an online tool to estimate your daily calorie needs or follow this simple formula: Multiply your weight in pounds by 10.
This is a rough estimate of your resting metabolic rate (RMR). If you are moderately active, add half your RMR to that number to account for your daily non-exercise activities. Desk job? Add fewer calories. Finally add calories needed for your regular exercise routine.
For example, a moderately active 130-pound woman running for one hour a day (burning 450 calories) would require:
- 130 lbs x 10 = 1,300 cals + 650 cals + 450 cals = 2,400cals/ day
The key to losing weight while maintaining performance is to reduce calorie consumption by a maximum of 20 per cent of your current daily caloric needs. Reducing your calories any more could impair your stamina.
Divide calories equally throughout the day.
Many people skip breakfast to lose weight, however this strategy will likely backfire. Studies show that athletes who routinely under eat during the day had higher body fat than those who spread their calories evenly throughout each meal.
This means your breakfast, lunch and dinner should be roughly the same size.
Protein satisfies. It blunts hunger for longer periods than any other nutrient. Less hunger means better compliance, which results in more weight loss. Don’t save all your protein for dinner. Ensure you are eating at least 20-30 grams of protein at every meal. This will help preserve lean muscle mass while your body drops the fat.
Haley Barton, MSc., is Nutritionist and Health Educator at Nutrition Savvy in Vancouver, B.C.