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Lose weight as an athlete: without losing muscle and sustainably

Weight reduction

Weight reduction for athletes – it is so significant

Lose weight as an athlete, without losing muscle and that too sustainably – an important topic. Especially in endurance sports, the right weight is a significant factor. Because all the extra body mass I’m dragging along has to be taken care of, too. Above all, less body fat helps for better performance, because the available energy can be used more efficiently.

Illustrated mathematically: the lower the body weight, the higher the VO2max. VO2max is measured in ml per minute per kg body weight. So if an athlete loses 5 kilograms of body fat at a weight of 70 kilograms, he achieves a significant increase in VO2max, i.e. the athlete becomes more efficient.

A lot about VO2max and how you can optimize it through training and nutrition is revealed by top trainers Dan Lorang and nutrition expert Robert Gorgos in THIS article.

Body fat: comparative sizes and measurement

Crucial to athlete-specific weight loss is a focus on body fat. Because of course you don’t want to lose muscle, which of course is at least as crucial for performance as an optimal weight.

The simplest “method” for determining body fat is to look in the mirror: this at least reveals something about gain or loss, precisely on the basis of the abdominal circumference. By means of caliper measurement or bio-impedance analysis, of course, you get much more accurate results.

They make perfect sense at regular intervals, even for amateur athletes. Common body fat scales are not 100 percent accurate, but they give a useful indication of possible upward or downward changes.

The body fat percentage in the absolute professional range is about 5-6 percent for men and around 10-12 percent for women. In the hobby sector, a share of 10-15 percent is very good for men, and 15-20 percent for women.

The exact determination of the body composition makes sense for both amateur athletes and professionals at regular intervals. In addition to these measurements, it is also beneficial to perform performance diagnostics every now and then to check if the training is going in the right direction.

You can find out more from trainer Philipp Seipp from Kick-Ass Sports in our KNOWLEDGE CENTER.

The most “popular” mistake when losing weight

For a long time, it was common practice to curb energy intake and also appetite via a low carb diet. The problem with this is that desired training adaptations, which are also important in carbohydrate metabolism, fail to occur or do not take place optimally. This is because carbohydrate suppliers, which also provide valuable nutrients, are missing.

Further negative adjustments, for example in thyroid hormone levels, can lead to subsequent problems later on and make weight loss more difficult in the long term and reduce performance.

Without sufficient carbohydrates in the diet, intensive sessions and corresponding adaptations, for example in the area of Vo2max, are difficult or impossible to implement.

What serious consequences a lack of energy in sports can have, we explain to you in THIS article.

Lose weight sustainably as an athlete without losing muscle

Weight reduction works best in the longer term via a good feeling of satiety and a slight energy deficit.

Example: If you consume 5000 calories a day through everyday activities and a four-hour workout, then a slight energy deficit up to a maximum of 10% is possible, i.e. an energy intake of 4500 to 4700 kcal. In the long term, this strategy usually results in a loss of body fat without a loss of muscle mass and negative adjustments in hormone metabolism.

It is important to plan one’s weight reduction specifically over a longer period of time. One should determine: What do I want to achieve – and how do I achieve this goal in a meaningful and, above all, sustainable way. Of course, the specific goals when it comes to weight loss vary from sport to sport.

The right diet to achieve the goals

On a training-intensive day, I recommend easy-to-digest, energy-providing foods like rice, pureed soups or porridge – as well as easy-to-digest proteins like fish and eggs or plant-based protein sources like hemp or rice protein. For in between meals, fruit or bars like the PORRIDGE BAR is optimal. For the catering during the load offers itself SLOW CARB which provides carbohydrates slowly and for a long time.

On a recovery day, you should further increase nutrient density and reduce energy density. I recommend salads and also something harder to digest like legumes and red meat from time to time.

In general, it is important to have a diet that makes use of all nutrient groups: nature is always right. With regional organic products, the nutrient density is usually higher, more protective substances also supported the body in maintaining its long-term performance.

We will go into more detail on the topic of healthy nutrition for athletes in this THIS article.

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