Weight loss: Does it impact your performance?

Athletes of all abilities should manage weight loss in a healthy way.

Two women lifting weights

Whether you’re a recreational or elite athlete, young or mature, your body weight may influence your performance.

Various diets and artificial means claim to induce weight gain or loss, including nutritional supplements and oral or injected medications. However, these methods are not always safe or effective. To determine optimal body weight and composition, consult with your physician or a dietitian.

It is critical to your health to not gain or lose too much body fat. Every individual is different, and a body weight for one person may not be appropriate for another. Consult with a registered dietitian to determine the safest and most effective way to achieve your weight goal.

Healthy weight loss

Steady and slow weight loss of one to two pounds per week, rather than rapid weight loss, minimizes the loss of lean muscle mass. By minimizing lean muscle mass loss, you can make sure your metabolism will remain efficient and support healthy weight loss.

A deficit of 500 calories a day for seven days (3,500 calories a week) is enough to lose one pound a week of body fat. Cutting calories does not have to be difficult. In fact, it can be as simple as removing one extra high-calorie indulgence a day, swapping high-calorie foods for lower calorie options, or by reducing portion sizes.

Overly restricting the amount of food you eat can significantly impair your performance. If you are an elite athlete, lose weight before the competition season begins to ensure maximal strength.

Make smart choices

The human body must be continuously supplied with energy (calories) to function effectively and efficiently. The best way to supply your body with energy is to enjoy a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods that are packed with healthy carbohydrates, fats and protein.

Variety also ensures adequate vitamin and mineral intake to support overall health and performance. While convenient for some people, advertised weight loss shakes are not necessary for weight loss.

In many American diets, foods and drinks high in fat and sugar — such as snack foods, candies and soft drinks — replace healthier options. Reducing portion sizes is an easy way to cut back without cutting out. However, healthier options should be your primary energy sources.

The key is to moderate, not eliminate. Eating regularly can help reduce fatigue and allow you to push harder during workouts, as well as recover faster after workouts. Without the proper calories, nutrients and fluids, you may not see the results you have worked hard for.

Food and physical activities

What you eat is just one half of the energy balance equation. The other half is physical activity. Exercise burns off extra calories you cannot cut through diet alone.

The minimum amount of exercise for health is 30 minutes per day, five days per week of moderate to vigorous activity. For weight loss, 50-60 minutes per day, five days per week of moderate to vigorous activity is what doctors recommend. Activities such as biking, hiking, brisk walking or participating in a fitness class are moderate to vigorous activity.

There are numerous health benefits that exercise has to offer other than weight loss: boosting your mood, strengthening your cardiovascular system, and reducing your blood pressure.

Posted In Healthy Living, Sports, Sports Medicine

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