Lean Down to Speed Up
By Sarah Seads, BA Kinesiology
Uber-athletes. Weekend warriors. Age class performers. Regardless of ability or sport, gender or age, we are all really after the same elusive goal know as a PB or 'Personal Best'. Whether you are looking to shave 30 seconds off your next 5k or qualify for Ironman Canada the chances are pretty good that you would like to improve on your current results by getting faster, fitter or being able to go further than you can right now. This is main reason why we keep going back for more year after year.
And this is also the reason why we tend to be gear junkies and techno-geeks looking for the latest, greatest and lightest weight gear to get us closer to our personal goals. Busy searching flash sport specific websites for their next promising purchase many recreational athletes overlook the impact that a lighter 'race-weight' can have on their results. Losing a few extra pounds of body fat can improve your performance, decrease your race times and save thousands of dollars trying to shave 3 pounds off your current ride.
Here are some important keys to consider when planning to 'Lean Down':
1. Less body mass means less energy is required to propel your body.
2. Balance between body weight and adequate muscle mass is required for optimum performance.
3. Focus on decreasing body fat to athletic levels while maintaining muscle mass.
4. Nutritional fueling requirements must never be compromised for weight loss or performance and health will be impaired.
If you are carrying excess pounds of body fat then you are requiring your body to use more energy to propel forward, up and over the demands of your sport. However, weight loss must always be balanced with your training goals and it is a fine line that must be given careful attention to ensure that you never compromise performance or overall health for weight loss goals.
The good news is that drastic measures are not necessary nor are they effective for long term weight loss. Creating a small caloric deficit every day and every week will add up to successful weight loss over the long term. Not unlike the current government, you too must take steps to create your personal calorie deficit in order to reach your body composition goals. You too must spend calories and cut back on savings to make positive changes. You must burn your way into a caloric deficit in order to shed excess body fat!
Simple but oh-so true, the only way to get rid of excess body fat is to consume fewer calories than you expend. That way, your body dips into it's reserves (aka the Fat Surplus) to provide the energy it needs. Let it dip into it's savings!
THE BEST WAY to do this is to create a 250-500 calorie deficit every day through a combination of intake and output (diet and exercise). Eat 250 fewer calories (2 beers) and burn 250 extra calories (30-45min run) in addition to your current routine and you WILL lose body fat. Sorry...there aren't any magic potions, lotions or gadgets in this equation just simple grade school math.
Following are my top 10 tips for creating a small caloric deficit that will result in safe and effective weight loss to help you reach your healthy race weight. Time to get focused, be disciplined and set yourself up for success!
1 Food log: start observing and recording your intake to become aware. Free on line logging tools such as www.fitday.com are available for instant calculations.
2 Learn to read labels and educate yourself about healthy food choices.
3 Design a weekly meal plan and stick to it. Success or failure is made at the grocery store.
4 Emphasize nutrient rich food choices and plan your meals around vibrant, colourful vegetables and fruits-5-10/day. Choose real food first!
5 Cut Out Empty Calories: processed foods, fast foods, junk food and alcohol. This is one of the the easiest ways to create a deficit (or surplus). Start by swappingone 'bad' food for one 'good' whole food.
6 Focus on Portion Control: Avoid overeating by eating slowly, using smaller plates, and starting with a smaller serving size. Don't eat if you are not feeling any degree of hunger.
7 Never skip breakfast or other main meals as under eating can be just as detrimental as overeating as it may cause your body to become 'fat-friendly' holding on to every calorie you consume.
8 Consume low-density caloric snacks more often. These are usually high in air, water, fibre and will fill you up without filling up your fat cells.
9 Set yourself up for Success: Plan in healthy snacks to avoid overeating later (busy days, on the road etc).
10 Drink 8-10 cups of fluid per day.
MOST IMPORTANTLY: never ever compromise your pre, during and post training fueling guidelines to cut back on calories or you will never reach your true racing potential.
Good luck, be patient and the new lean mean you will be ready for a PB come competition day!
Sarah Seads is a Kinesiologist and Fitness Trainer based in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Her company Equilibrium Lifestyle Management, or ELM, offers group 'Fitness Adventures' and Personalized Training programs to assist clients in reaching for their fitness dreams and goals. FMI go to www.elmhealth.com.