Managing Weight

Photo Dec 27, 10 28 03 PM

One of my athletes has a A race coming up in about 10 weeks time and wanted to drop 6 lbs between now and race day.  While I’m no dietician, here’s a ten point plan to use as a starting point for anyone contemplating something similar:

  1. Weigh yourself no more than 1-2 times per week. Daily weigh ins aren’t necessary and can be distracting and demotivational.  Pick a day, the same day each week and weigh yourself as soon as you get up in the morning (before eating or drinking anything), with no clothes on to be consistent.
  2. Use a smart scale to give an estimate of your resting metabolism.  That is the number of calories you expend not doing anything and is a good starting point for calculating how many calories you need to consume.
  3. Track your food.  Apps such as myfitnesspal are excellent for this and  I would strongly recommend if you are planning on structured weight loss program then you measure everything you consume – don’t omit anything – you’ll only be kidding yourself.  Myfitnesspal will also allow you to analyse what you are consuming in terms of macros.  What gets measured gets controlled.  Just be careful not to become a myfitnesspal bore…. “I don’t know how you can eat that when it has 234 kCal, 21g carbs, 12g of fat and 6g of protein in it”  you’ll lose friends very quickly.
  4. Work on 3,500kcal  = 1 lb.  While not strictly accurate it does give a good indication of what calorie deficit you need to run at to lose 1 lb in weight each week.
  5. Cut out alcohol.   Obvious and pretty much everyone knows this.  Alcoholic drinks often have high calorie values too – craft beers for example can be around 200kCal per pint (light beers if you must are around 80-100).
  6. Don’t “top and tail” your meals.  A beer before dinner and a desert after – instant 500+kCal’s – every night of the week, there’s your pound straight there, but oooh, soooo good.
  7. Look for low caloric density foods.  Salads, vegetables, unprocessed foods are significantly less dense in calories that processed foods, meaning you can eat more for less calories.  Try eating that cheeseburger after filling up on a huge plate of carrots and lettuce, you won’t be able to do it.
  8. Look for “marginal gains”.  Work out from you food tracking what you can cut easily from your diet without noticing to much chose a regular black coffee at Starbucks rather than that Latte for example.  Another option is to dish up your dinner and then take 5-10% off the plate – you probably won’t even notice it.  Another trick is to use a smaller plate in the first place, it works!
  9. Don’t take your weight loss strategies out on the bike with you.  If you don’t consume enough calories on your training rides then you will probably under perform against your training goals and come back hungry and want to devour the contents of your fridge.  Not a pretty sight.
  10. Make sure you keep your macros in check.  Cutting calories means you need to adjust your diet but make sure you are consuming enough protein, carbohydrate, fat and other nutrients in the recommended proportions.  On a similar note, look at carb cycling – reducing carb intake on non training days and increasing on training days to match your training needs.  Make sure in particular you are getting enough protein, current recommendations for athletes are much higher than you might think, (for active older athletes it’s 1.2-1.5g protein per 1kg of bodyweight, which is about 30g per meal).  Protein also make you feel full for longer so that helps too 🙂