Be a winner at losing! Losing weight, or losing “fat” more specifically, can be challenging. The WINforum sport nutrition game plan for weight loss will help you stay healthy and improve performance on the field.
Some body fat is necessary for human function. However, excess body fat can weigh down your performance. There are no secrets to losing body fat. However, many athletes make the mistake of following fad diets, skipping meals and not fueling adequately with food when fuel is needed (at practice or during games). This results in muscle loss and decreased metabolism.
Most diets require you to overly restrict calories and leave you “running on fumes.” The best diet plan for you is a healthy diet that gives your body the nutrients it needs. You might choose to follow a structured diet plan or just fine-tune what you eat now. It’s critical to maintain a balanced diet that has enough calories, protein and other nutrients to support training, aid recovery and help you resist illness and injury.
“Eating small meals frequently throughout the day, rather than skipping meals or having three large meals, has been shown in the research to minimize the muscle loss associated with ‘dieting’, and prevent overeating at night.” –Emily Edison, Momentum Sports Dietitian
Although eating at night when you are biologically hungry (tummy growling) is okay, eating excessively, when it’s not needed, will create more fuel in your storage tank (which is stored as fat).
The best time for weight loss is in the off-season or between seasons because most athletes don’t have the time or energy to focus on dietary changes and extra exercise during the season. Give yourself plenty of time to meet your goal. If you are burning 500 calories a day more than you’re eating and drinking, you’ll lose about 1 pound per week.
One way to know whether you’re losing fat and maintaining muscle is to have your body composition measured by a trained professional.
1. Calculate Energy Requirements– Using Nutrition Fundamentals: Calories
2. Eat Frequently to Lose Weight
Many athletes utilize a Registered Dietitian, who specializes in Sport Nutrition, to help them create a diet plan for weight loss. She/he may ask you to write down what, when and how much you eat and drink for a few days. Recording what you eat and drink can be helpful in creating an eating plan that maximizes energy intake when fuel is needed.
Athletes who consume less than 1,800 calories per day have more difficulty getting the needed nutrients to support health and training. They should consider taking a multi-vitamin / mineral supplement
Some athletes can benefit from additional exercise outside of practice to aid in weight loss. In most sports, one hour in practice is different than one hour of constant aerobic activity. For example, during a soccer practice, the most active players are moving at full speed for only short periods of time. Waiting in line for drills, shagging balls and listening to instruction does not burn many calories.
You’ll expend far more energy with cardiovascular workouts like running, cycling, rowing, stair climbing, spinning and other exercises where you move your legs rhythmically and constantly. Be sure to check with your coach before adding additional exercise.
Lifelong weight maintenance depends on eating a healthy diet and moving more in everyday activities. Examples include taking the stairs instead of elevators and walking instead of driving your car. Adding more activity to your daily routine utilizes more calories without much notice.
Be sure to include favorite foods in your diet plan, as deprivation can lead to overeating, which can cause weight gain. Mix in plenty of healthy foods like fruits and veggies, whole grains and dairy. Just don’t forget to include the occasional scoop of your favorite ice cream to round out your plan.
Remember: Skinny does not mean you are lean, and big does not mean you are fat.