Weight loss Does it impact performance

Whether you’re a recreational or elite athlete, young or mature, your performance may be influenced by your body weight

Whether you’re a recreational or elite athlete, young or mature, your performance may be influenced by your body weight. Various diets and artificial means exist claiming 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 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 1-2 pounds per week, rather than rapid weight loss, minimizes the loss of lean muscle mass. By minimizing lean muscle mass loss, 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 1 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, to ensure maximal strength, weight loss should be achieved before the competition season begins.

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, advertized weight loss “shakes” are not necessary for weight loss.

Get the Best Nutrition
In many American diets, foods and drinks high in fat and sugar (e.g. 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.

Balance Food and Physical Activity
What you eat is just one half of the energy balance equation; the other half is physical activity. Exercise burns off extra calories you can not cut through diet alone. The minimum amount of exercise for health is 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week of moderate to vigorous activity each day; for weight loss, 50- 60 minutes per day, 5 days per week of moderate to vigorous activity is recommended. Activities such as, biking, hiking, brisk walking or even participating in a community wellness center fitness class, are considered moderate to vigorous activity. There are numerous health benefits that exercise has to offer including boosting your mood, strengthening your cardiovascular system, and reducing your blood pressure. See next week’s edition for information on Weight Gain.

For more information, contact Lisa Esposito, MS, RD, CSSD, LN Sports Dietitian/Research Associate III, National Institute for Athletic Health & Performance at Sanford (605) 328-4750 or e-mail: lisa.esposito@sanfordhealth.org.

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