Sports Nutrition Tips for Sustainable and Smart Weight-Loss
It’s that time of year when athletes are starting to ramp up training in preparation of spring races or upcoming summer triathlons. As training ramps up, there are often thoughts of weight loss especially if you’ve gained weight over the holidays. Weight loss is no simple task. In fact, weight loss is nothing but tough. There’s no clear path or strategy to help people lose weight. It’s very complex due to the number of factors at play – such as BMI, metabolism, age, hormones, hydration levels, stress levels, etc.
Weight loss is a common goal in the work I do with clients. Sometimes, they only want to lose 5-10 pounds and other times, it’s 50 pounds. Most people want to lose weight for the right reasons – they want to feel good in the skin that they’re in or believe it will positively impact their athletic performance by trying to get the right power to weight ratio.
There are other clients who have unrealistic weight loss goals – such as, “I want to weigh what I weighed in high school.” While this may initially sound like a good goal (because we are usually at our healthiest weight in our late teens and 20’s), it may not be realistic since they are NOT in their teens or late 20’s. Rather, they might be a parent who works a full-time job while also juggling training with other familial responsibilities or they are a woman who is going through perimenopause. I personally weigh about 10 pounds more now than what I was in high school and am quite healthy. I am at a weight that allows me to lead a full quality life while training.
Unrealistic goals might be losing too much weight too soon, such as “I want to lose 50 pounds in 4 months.” Our lives are not like the show, “The Biggest Loser” where every minute of the day is structured and supported by fitness trainers, chefs, and nutritionists. However, 50 pounds can be a realistic weight loss goal if the individual shoots for 2-4 pounds per month and then sustains that for a period of 1 ½ -2 years. Even at that, I am skeptical of leaving people in weight loss mode for an extended period of time. People’s bodies need to adjust and get comfortable with a new weight before moving into the next phase of weight loss. It’s not mentally or emotionally healthy to always be in weight loss mode.
21 Tips for Sustainable Weight-Loss
Here’s the bottom line -- what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for the next. Calorie restriction alone rarely works nor does extra time spent working out produce satisfactory results. Saying this, let’s take a look at some practical and sustainable actions that can support or lead to weight loss:
1. Reduce calories by no more than 200-300 calories per day
2. Try fasting workouts in the a.m.
3. Add-in high intensity training either in a running workout or gym
4. Hit the gym and lift some weights
5. Increase protein (15-20g per meal)
6. Decrease total sugars to about 40-50 g per day
7. Eat 25 g fiber per day
8. Add-in plant-based fats
9. Eat 3 meals a day or 2 meals every 12 hours ** if you are susceptible to low blood sugar, go with 200-300 calories every 2-3 hours.
10. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night
11. Take a good quality multi-vitamin
12. Start meals with warm soups or broth
13. Keep a daily food journal
14. Weigh yourself daily at the same time --- preferably first thing in the morning
15. Use portion control
16. Cook more at home
17. Drink plenty of water
18. Eat real food; go for quality over quantity
19. Eat breakfast within 60 minutes of waking
20. Manage stress – look at the impact of your job and relationships on your health
21. Love more
Finally, in our never-ending quest to lose weight, stop doing these things that derail weight loss:
1. Indulging in a daily glass of wine or beer – these are empty calories
2. Not taking steps to manage stress in a healthy way
3. Hanging out in the kitchen
4. Not making time to sit down and eat
5. Putting yourself second, third, or last
6. Snacking during kitchen clean-up or immediately after dinner
7. Letting your workout fall off your “to do” list
8. Eating whatever you want when you workout
9. Eating too much of the right foods
10. Making “Cheat Days” a common occurrence
Katina Sayers is the owner/operator of Katina’s Nutritional Coaching Corner. She has an extensive background in health and education that began with degrees in exercise physiology, health and physical education, community health, and culminating with a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction. She completed an advanced certificate of study in Integrative Nutrition and Health Coaching from the renowned Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York City. For the last four years, she has worked one-on-one with clients, presented a multitude of nutrition topics for large and small audiences, contracted with businesses to implement worksite wellness initiatives, and currently manages day-to-day food service operations at a local non-profit agency, as well as directs activities related to nutrition and health. Katina can be reached at email@example.com.