A general rule when it comes to running is that you can run more efficiently when you are considered to be at the low end of a healthy weight. The heavier you are the more energy is required to move. A lower body fat percentage can increase your power-to-weight ratio and help you stay cooler whilst on the move. But, it isn’t just a case of lower = better. If you lose too much weight, your health will suffer, and performance will drop, not improve.
How can I lose weight without compromising performance?
Don’t try to lose weight too quickly. A severe weight loss diet can be severe. Anything more than losing 0.5kg a week can cause muscle loss and a lack of energy resulting in a reduced performance and possible injury.
Here are some ways to lose weight and still train
1) Focus on quality ‘proper’ food.
Replace processed foods with whole unprocessed foods. For example; swap biscuits, cake, white bread, fast food for lean meat and fish, nuts, seeds, fruit, veg and wholegrains. Look to change one thing at a time and gradually build it into your daily diet so that it becomes routine.
2) Plan your carbohydrates.
Eat more carbs when you are exercising more to account for the amount of energy being burnt off. Consume most of your carbs soon after your workout as it is more likely to be converted to glycogen than fat. On less active days, reduce the amount of carbs but don’t cut out completely and risk fatigue. Vegetables contain carbs, are low in calories plus, high in fibre so help to reduce appetite. So, you could halve the amount of pasta, rice or potatoes and swap it for more vegetables.
Quick fix – swap your white rice and white pasta for brown wholegrain versions – better energy source and less fat stored in the body. Also swap white potatoes for Sweet Potatoes.
3) Eat enough protein
Protein maintains muscle while losing weight. Protein helps promote satiety, keeping you fuller for longer. Therefore, you are less likely to snack on unhealthy foods. Aim to eat good food sources of protein from lean meat and fish rather than processed meat or use supplements and ‘protein’ drinks to replace meals.
4) Reduce Calories
Take notice of how many calories you actually burn when exercising. It is common that people reward themselves with sweet treats after exercise where in fact they are consuming more calories than they used. Therefore, no weight will be lost. Plan your meal and consume it after your workout, that way you reduce the post run snack as well as a meal.
5) Lay off the energy drinks
Sports drinks are over advertised as a necessary need to exercise. But simply your body does not require the high amounts of sugar they contain to get through a run or work out. Your body has more than enough energy stored to get through 90 minutes of moderate intensity activity. Burn the calories you have, rather than fill your body with energy that doesn’t all get used up so is stored as fat ready for next time!
Lastly, don’t deprive yourself. Do not ban certain foods. It will only increase your desire to have them and will only result in overeating. The changes you make need to be gradual to become sustainable, otherwise you will result back to your old habits. Remember, everyone is different, there is no one size fits all diet plan. What you choose to do needs to suit you, suit your lifestyle, your likes and dislikes, your goals and your budget.
For some of my recipe ideas visit: acrunningandfitness.com/recipes
If you would like more information or ideas, please do let me know at email@example.com
Alex Cann - AC Running & Fitness