If we want our body weight to stay the same we need to be in energy balance, which basically means energy being consumed = energy being expended. To lose weight your body needs to be in a state of negative energy balance, where energy consumed is less than energy being expended. When put like that it seems so simple but sadly we all know it’s not.
The best practice for healthy weight loss is to reduce calorie intake by 200-500 kcal at a time. It may take a little longer than but by doing it this way your body is not being shocked into starvation, weight loss can be controlled and it will be likely to be longer lasting than using a fad diet. This is simple to do as you can remove a snack from your day or reduce your portion sizes at meal times.
However just aiming to lose weight isn’t strictly the best approach. When considering sporting performance it’s always best to reduce body fat but maintain muscle mass. Reducing calories by too much or cutting out key food groups can lead to our bodies breaking down our muscles as energy. Yes, you will lose weight but with it you may lose your health and performance too. Not what we want! There is nothing worse than missing days of training because of a silly cold brought on by a compromised immune system.
Much of the quick weight loss seen with fad weight loss diets is actually just water loss. This is especially true with diets that cut out carbohydrates, as our bodies store water with carbohydrates.
Why not try adding some interval sessions into your training? This can help to increase your metabolism during and after exercise and therefore calorie burn.
Carbohydrates are often a hot topic when it comes to weight loss. Cutting carbohydrates out of your diet has been found to help you lose weight as your body will use fat as an alternative energy source. But ultimately carbohydrates are needed to fuel exercise, without them you will not be able to train to the best of your ability and achieve the best training adaptations. For exercise that includes high intensity efforts, carbohydrates are essential.
Over consuming carbohydrates can however contribute to weight gain, so with this is mind, why not try to ‘cycle carbohydrates’. This means only consuming high carbohydrate meals when your body is going to use the energy; around your training. This way your body has the energy available to get the most out of the training session and you reap the rewards by recovering properly after. For rest days or lower intensity training blocks the large amount of carbohydrates aren’t needed, so aim to reduce these or cut our where possible. This will mean your body has to draw upon fat stores for day to day fuelling. But as soon as you get back into training, make sure you put the carbohydrates in beforehand.
Consuming more protien will also help with satiety; that fuller for longer feeling. Protein, particularly an amino acid called leucine has been found to be pivotal in the maintenance of lean body mass during weight loss. Research by well renowned Performance Nutritionist for British Cycling Nigel Mitchell found that when protein, in combination with exercise, contributed to 35% of daily calorie intake, lean body mass loss was significantly reduced during periods of weight loss compared to when protein only contributed to 15% of daily calorie intake. Leucine can be found in all OTE Recovery Drinks.
Ultimately it is important to set out the aims and objectives of your training and tailor your nutrition to suit. If you are planning an intense block of training then do not use this period to restrict calories and lose weight, focus on optimal nutrition for training adaptations which involves fuelling correctly on and off the bike. Periodise weight loss so as not to impact greatly on your training or lifestyle.
Remember, weight loss is very specific to an individual whether you are competing, commuting or exercising for fun and not all general advice given will work for everyone. Don’t get hung up on what the scales say, being lighter is not always better for your personal performance and goals. If you feel strong, happy & healthy then chances are that weight is the correct one for you.
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