In-season Weight Loss
Athletes often want to lose weight during the competitive season to improve strength, power and enhance performance, or to meet requirements of the sport (e.g. wrestling). To accomplish this without compromising health and recovery, adequate energy and nutrients must be supplied. Depending on the extent of weight loss, you should improve performance during this period if you’re following a properly designed nutrition plan. All calorie, protein, fat and carbohydrate guidelines should be based on your individual needs. In general, weekly weight loss should not exceed 1 ½ pounds. However, if you are significantly heavier than your desired playing or competitive weight, you may be able to lose more. Different strategies exist to lose weight while in-season but each option should include proper nutrition and dietary support.
Option 1 – Decrease calorie intake
Since athletes have high energy requirements, drastically reducing calories can impair recovery, lower energy levels, lead to the loss of lean tissue and impede performance. Creating a deficit between 100 and 750 daily calories will result in gradual body fat reduction while preserving muscle . This will allow you to lose up to 1 ½ pounds per week. However, the more overweight you are, the higher your daily deficit can be. If more rapid weight loss is needed, a more aggressive strategy may be employed but performance may be compromised. For youth athletes under the age of 18, calorie restriction should be controlled by the growing needs of the body using the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for Energy for Active Individuals as the primary guidelines. All dotFIT programs incorporate these guidelines to formulate personalized nutrition plans.
Option 2 – Increase activity level
Reducing calorie intake may not be reasonable for many athletes. In this case, increasing daily calorie burn, including greater workout time or intensity and increasing daily steps or other non-exercise activities can induce weight loss. Care should be taken to avoid overuse injuries and overtraining.
Option 3 – Dietary Support
With proper prior screening, various dietary supplements can be safely implemented into an individualized program to aid in fat loss. This is appropriate only for individuals over 18 years of age.
Option 4 - A Synergistic Combination of all Three Options
This option allows for the greatest amount of food to be consumed with the least amount of “extra” activity. Many athletes find this option the most comfortable during the competitive season. Although in-season weight loss is not considered ideal, safe and effective body fat reduction can be accomplished through individualized dot FIT recommendations while still attaining performance goals.
Monitor Your Weight and Performance
Due to individual differences, it’s difficult to determine the amount of weight loss that could have a negative impact on performance. However, rapid weight loss along with increased fatigue, illness, difficulty concentrating and mood changes may indicate you’re losing too much weight. Monitor your weight regularly and keep track of these signs and symptoms.