MoN athlete Johannes Rydzek is Olympic champion and 6-time world champion in Nordic combined. A sport in which body weight plays a major role.
In this article, he tells you how to lose weight in a healthy and long-term way.
The topic around weight loss is a very delicate one. There exists many curious diets or supplements that postulate rapid weight loss. We would like to clearly distance ourselves from this!
Instead, it is our concern to always keep the health of the athletes in mind as the primary goal. This applies to the time during as well as after the sports career.
Our statements in this article are therefore based on scientific principles and experiences of professional athlete Johannes Rydzek as well as MoN nutritionist Robert Gorgos.
It is also very important for us to mention in advance that this article is intended for healthy adult athletes. Individuals with pre-existing conditions or adolescents should seek additional information on the subject.
Weight loss is ultimately always about an energy deficit. Without energy deficit, you simply can’t achieve weight loss. But you should make sure that there is only a light energy deficit!
Large energy deficits do not pass the body without a trace.
In this sense, short, drastic weight reductions are basically of little use. This applies to both the health and the performance-oriented aspect.
This is because the body tries to adapt to a high, acute energy deficiency and save energy. It does this through various mechanisms such as hormonal adjustments via the thyroid gland. However, this should be avoided at all costs!
To avoid this, care must be taken that the energy deficit is not higher than 5% – to a maximum of 10% of the total daily turnover. The basal metabolic rate should never be undercut, as this energy is necessary for basic bodily functions.
Very fast weight loss should not be expected with this method, however, only in this way a long-term meaningful and successful weight loss is achieved.
Be sure to avoid nutrient deficiencies. This ensures the maintenance of health and performance.
So, in summary, keep nutrient density high while reducing energy density.
But how does that work?
High nutrient density is easily achieved by using high quality foods. Energy density, on the other hand, is the amount of energy in kcal per 100g of the ready-to-eat food. So you reduce it by going for low energy density foods.
Typically, these are fruits and vegetables, but it depends very much on the processing. For example, potatoes have a low energy density, but if they are processed into chips, they have a high energy density.
So a simple basic rule is to eat lots of unprocessed foods with high nutrient density and low energy density.
Protein intake is often given a very high priority when it comes to weight loss. This is due to the fact that the proteins have a satiating effect and can thus prevent a constant feeling of hunger.
However, with a regulated energy deficit of 5-10%, it is sufficient to adhere to the “normal,” scientifically recommended protein intake for athletes of 1.4 – 1.7g/kg body weight (bw).
However, the protein intake should not be lower, as they contain many nutrients and are therefore essential for maintaining nutrient density.
Fat contains the most energy of all the macronutrients and is thus
not very beneficial for weight loss. Nevertheless, fat should not be completely avoided – a moderate fat intake is desirable. Depending on the training, this means that there should be approx. 1 – 1.2 g fat/kg bw is sufficient.
This amount is sufficient to absorb essential fatty acids as well as fat-soluble vitamins. With more fat, the food tastes better, but it is counterproductive for weight reduction.
Carbohydrate reduction should not be attempted under any circumstances.
An energy deficit is often confused with a carbohydrate deficit, but this is wrong and a big mistake, especially with regard to performance.
In terms of performance, it is beneficial to emphasize meals before, during, and after exercise. In any case, the training should always be well fed. In this way, the performance in training is not affected and the regeneration after training is better.
With what amount of carbohydrates you should optimally feed your training, we tell you HERE.
Frequent fasting training as well as training with non-filled or only slightly filled carbohydrate stores should also be avoided/reduced. Men should reduce this to a maximum of 1x a month, while women should avoid it altogether.
Frequent training in energy deficit can be accompanied by bad consequences, which you can read about HERE
Of course, to find the optimal energy deficit of 5 – 10%, you first need to know how much energy you consume throughout the day. This energy consumption is called total energy turnover:
Basal metabolic rate + power metabolic rate = total energy metabolic rate
There are many very elaborate formulas for calculating total energy expenditure, but we will stick to a simpler formula.
Weight in kg x 24 kcal/kg x PAL factor + training metabolic rate (x h) – (x/24 x basal metabolic rate) = total energy metabolic rate.
In this formula, the PAL factor describes the physical activity outside of training. The level of this factor is therefore individually variable and depends on the occupation/everyday life. If someone works in a sitting position, the factor is significantly lower than for someone who is physically active in their work.
In the example for Johannes, we used the average value of 1.25.
The training turnover can be read very well from watches or, for example, from the bicycle ergometer. Of course, these data are not completely accurate, but as a guideline you can use them.
So for Johannes, it would look like this:
67kg x 24 kcal/kg x 1.25 + 3h x 600 kcal/h – (3/24 x GU) = 3609 kcal
Going back to our initial statements, a reasonable weight reduction for John is in the range of 3200 – 3400 kcal. If he takes in this amount of energy, he can lose weight in the long term and sustainably without experiencing health or performance problems.
The right workout for weight loss is just as important as the right diet.
In this area, a lot of work is done with VO2max. What exactly the VO2max is, you can read HERE
This is because a high VO2max is associated with a higher anaerobic threshold, higher fat metabolism, and higher maximal aerobic capacity. That is, the range in which oxygen supply and consumption are still balanced is driven upward. This will allow you to run faster and longer without building up amounts of lactate that your body can’t break down.
To do that, you need to increase your VO2max. To increase VO2max, calm and steady training combined with intense stimuli and strength training is recommended. This type of training is called polarized training.
In summary, you can achieve a good training stimulus by alternating between threshold training, VO2max training and strength training. In addition, you set a strong stimulus on the metabolism and thus also achieve a positive effect for weight reduction.
If you push your VO2max up, you also push your energy expenditure up, which has a positive effect on weight loss.
If you train twice a day, it makes more sense from a nutritional standpoint to put the stronger training stimulus in the first half of the day. This way you can avoid having the largest meal in the evening.
A training plan with many diverse stimuli for a Nordic combined athlete could look like this:
Monday: Day off
Tuesday: VO2max training in the morning and a regenerative training in the afternoon
Wednesday: Strength training and basic training
Thursday: Rest day or regenerative training
Friday: Strength training and regenerative training
Saturday: Basic training/swell training, possibly 2nd unit
Sunday: Longest session, fat metabolism training
In this case, Sunday would be suitable for the “Train Low” unit already mentioned.
For this, one would not supply as many carbohydrates as usual after the training on Saturday and then start the training on Sunday with pre-emptied carbohydrate stores.
After training, however, ample carbohydrates should be supplied again in any case. Also, this should not be done more often than 1x/month!
John addresses the fact that the lower weight sometimes conflicts somewhat with the muscle mass needed.
The best way to keep muscle loss to a minimum is to provide an adequate supply of carbohydrates during training. After training, the supply of abundant high-quality proteins is undoubtedly of great importance.
Make sure to use the RECOVERY SHAKE within 30 minutes after training.
This window of time is called “Open Window” and it is characterized by high absorption capacity of the body for the supplied nutrients.
In this way, the body can regenerate faster and better. We will tell you more tips for regeneration HERE.
The right post-workout snack will also help you avoid cravings, which is essential for successful long-term weight loss.
What Johannes also had to learn first: Even if it seems contradictory at first, the intake of sufficient carbohydrates around the training is essential for weight reduction.
There is also the point that physical performance comes before weight loss. If an attempt is made to reduce the weight via a carbohydrate restriction in/around the training, the performance drops and the 1 – 2 kilos less are – according to Johannes: “all for nothing”
John also raises the important point of what he calls “weight management.” Which means that his body weight is not constant throughout the year. So his competition weight is not the same as his year-round training weight. As a spectator, you should always keep this in mind.
To start the training well prepared, Johannes likes to have a sweet rice pudding or an oat porridge with some fruit like a banana for breakfast. For him, the good tolerability and the high amount of carbohydrates are in the most important things.
Breakfast depends on what workout is on the schedule. If Johannes has a jump training, his breakfast looks different. On such days he eats a simple white bread with honey or jam.
During jump training, on the other hand, he uses our PORRIDGE BAR. These are based on complex carbohydrates and vegetable proteins, making them the optimal energy suppliers for in-between meals.
After the training Johannes uses the RECOVERY SHAKE.
For lunch, he likes to prepare pasta with a light sauce. The sauce optimally contains some protein e.g. via protein-rich vegetables or some chicken.
The second training session is then usually a bit more relaxed. Suitable for this purpose is our SLOW CARB. The carbohydrates contained are released slowly into the blood and provide you with long-lasting energy, which favors fat metabolism and saves muscle glycogen. In addition, the contained sour cherry stimulates the metabolism and positively influences the blood circulation of the muscles.
For dinner, Johannes likes to cook dishes with lots of vegetables, such as potatoes with oven vegetables. At the same time, he makes sure that he does not eat too late, so that the body can rest.
It’s a little hard to stick to the energy deficit during evenings out with friends or special occasions. At such moments, John does not like to hold back.
This understanding of when to cut back and when to indulge is very important for successful long-term weight loss.
The same applies to the topic of alcohol. During the competition phase, Johannes almost completely abstains from alcohol. Only on special occasions it may be a small beer, after all, even the Olympic champion knows: “You have to celebrate the parties as they come.” 😉
In the seasonal break, it can also be a little more, without consequences, however, remains then neither for the performance nor for the target weight.
You can find out more about alcohol HERE.
Finally, Johannes reveals to us:
“Overall, it’s important to develop a sense of caloric intake. That doesn’t mean meticulously counting calories every day. Rather, it’s purposeful to sense when you’ve gone a little overboard and then cut back a bit.”
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