Lose Weight Now, Get Fit Later

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Training | Nutrition -

My­main lim­i­ta­tion has al­ways been his size – he’s six-foot-three and usu­ally weighs over 200 pounds. Re­cently he trained hard to take a crack at im­prov­ing his marathon PB of 3:02. Three weeks be­fore the race he was in great shape, but still heav­ier than he wanted to be. So he put him­self on a strict diet and lost five pounds be­fore race day. But his marathon was a dis­as­ter – he felt ter­ri­ble from the start and strug­gled to a 3: 27 fin­ish.

Sean’s mis­take is com­mon among triath­letes. He tried to tackle fit­ness gains and fat loss si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Both fit­ness and a lean body com­po­si­tion are im­por­tant to suc­cess in en­durance sports. Chances are you need to in­crease your fit­ness level and shed some body fat to achieve your goal in your next triathlon. But, if you do what it takes to max­i­mize fat loss – namely, re­duce your food in­take – you will de­prive your body of the en­ergy it needs to han­dle in­creas­ing train­ing loads and thereby sab­o­tage your fit­ness de­vel­op­ment.

A 2009 study con­ducted by re­searchers at South­ern Con­necti­cut Univer­sity showed cy­clists who re­duced their food in­take by 500 calo­ries per day im­proved their “power- to-weight ra­tio” (a re­li­able mea­sure of cy­cling per­for­mance ca­pac­ity) by los­ing weight and keep­ing train­ing con­sis­tent. Cy­clists who kept their diet the same, but added high-in­ten­sity in­ter­vals to their train­ing, im­proved their power-to-weight ra­tio equally by main­tain­ing their weight and gain­ing fit­ness. But cy­clists who re­duced their food in­take and added in­ter­vals to their train­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ously failed to im­prove their power-to-weight ra­tio be­cause they were robbed of the en­ergy they needed to ben­e­fit from the harder train­ing.

En­durance ath­letes are bet­ter off pri­or­i­tiz­ing fat loss in­de­pen­dent of fit­ness im­prove­ment dur­ing a brief pe­riod (four to eight weeks) that im­me­di­ately pre­cedes the start of a ramp-up for rac­ing. But even then you need to pur­sue fat loss in a way that ac­com­mo­dates your cur­rent train­ing needs and re­spects your fu­ture race plans. A mo­ti­vated nonath­lete can lose weight by skip­ping lunch ev­ery day. You shouldn’t.

So what should you do dur­ing your four- to eight-week fat-loss phase? I rec­om­mend aim­ing for a daily en­ergy deficit of 300 to 500 calo­ries. That’s large enough to stim­u­late a sig­nif­i­cant amount of fat loss in four to eight weeks but not so large as to sab­o­tage your train­ing. I fur­ther sug­gest that you in­crease your protein in­take to about 30 per cent of to­tal calo­ries dur­ing this pe­riod. This will re­duce the amount of hunger that at­tends you calo­rie re­duc­tion and – when com­bined with strength train­ing – en­sure that you don’t lose mus­cle mass.

As for train­ing, a fat-loss fo­cus pe­riod is a good time to pri­or­i­tize strength train­ing. Do at least two and ideally three full-body strength work­outs per week. Not only will this en­sure that all of the weight you lose is body fat but it will also re­duce your chances of get­ting in­jured af­ter you tran­si­tion to race­fo­cused train­ing.

A fat-loss fo­cus pe­riod is not the time to log heavy mileage. But there are a cou­ple of types of work­outs that will pro­mote fat loss with­out high over­all vol­ume at this time. One is power in­ter­vals – re­peated max­i­mal ef­forts last­ing just 10 to 20 sec­onds. This type of work­out pro­motes fat loss by keep­ing the body’s me­tab­o­lism el­e­vated long af­ter the ses­sion is com­pleted. Do one set of power in­ter­vals per week in each dis­ci­pline through­out your fat-loss fo­cus pe­riod.

An­other ef­fec­tive work­out for fat loss is the fast­ing work­out, which is a rel­a­tively long, low-in­ten­sity ses­sion that fol­lows a low- car­bo­hy­drate meal (or no meal) and dur­ing which you con­sume no carbs. De­priv­ing your mus­cles of carbs in a long work­out max­i­mizes fat burn­ing. Do one fast­ing work­out per week, al­ter­nat­ing be­tween bike rides and runs, through­out your fat-loss fo­cus pe­riod.

When you tran­si­tion out of your fat-loss fo­cus phase and into race prepa­ra­tion, you can, and should, con­tinue to lose ex­cess body fat, but not as quickly, be­cause your train­ing and diet habits will shift to sup­port fit­ness build­ing. In terms of diet, con­cen­trate on qual­ity in­stead of quan­tity. High- qual­ity foods are veg­eta­bles, fruits, nuts and seeds, whole grains, lean meat and fish, and some dairy. Eat as much of these foods as you like. Low- qual­ity foods in­clude re­fined grains, fatty meats, sweets and fried foods. Eat these foods spar­ingly. By max­i­miz­ing your diet qual­ity you will be able to shed ex­cess body fat with­out com­pro­mis­ing your train­ing and reach the next start­ing line at your op­ti­mal rac­ing weight.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.