August 18, 2011

Triathlon Training: How To Lose It, Part I

Your race is right around the corner.  Yet, even after all the training hours you’ve logged, you STILL can’t drop that extra weight.  Selecting lightweight components can shave a few ounces off your bike, but it doesn’t have near the impact of dropping a few pounds from your tush!

Regardless of what you hear, weight management is not a simple math equation, i.e. calories consumed minus calories used.   There are seven other factors you need to consider in order to make a dent in your weight loss efforts and, ultimately, in your triathlon finish time.  We’ll review 4 of these today.

Remember, these guidelines have NOTHING to do with race or training nutrition, but rather are offered as tips for everyday eating for the triathlete!

How To Eat To Burn Fat

Where’s the beef? A review of nearly 400 scientific studies in the Sports Nutrition Review Journal (2004) showed that athletes involved in moderate amounts of intense and high volume training need to consume 3 – 11 servings of animal protein per day since carb-only meals negatively impact protein synthesis and the ability to lose weight.  However, the majority of these studies were performed on men!  Research that just came out in May of 2010 tells us a very different story about women’s proteins needs and indicates that this amount MAY actually vary quite a bit between men and women.  So what’s the right amount?  Some new genetic testing now available actually spells out how much you, from a genetic standpoint, should be consuming AT EACH MEAL.  I’ll tell you a bit more about that later because it’s amazing stuff… but for now, my general rule of thumb is that you should be eating 1 serving of protein at every meal, either a) between 4-6 ounces of animal protein, b) ½ – 1 cup of Greek-style yogurt or cottage cheese, or c) 1-2 scoops of whey or rice/pea/hemp protein powder.

Drop your biking pals, not your fats. Skimping on fats in an effort to drop pounds is an out of balance dietary strategy that will push your performance, your ability to recover, your immune system and your overall health into the red zone.  If you’ve been avoiding fat because you think it will make you fat, keep in mind that good fats like olive oil, avocado, flaxseed meal, and nut butters all actually fuel your metabolism, and – in the right amounts – can help you burn fat.  And, since we’re all a bunch of fat heads (the brain is 60-70% fat), depleting your diet of fat can make you stupid and depressed too.  For a bit more info on dietary fats, check out my video here:

Practice responsible snacking: If you’re not training hard for 90 minutes or more, why would you eat a snack or sports nutrition product when you’re carrying sufficient fat stores to fuel your body?   On rest and recovery days, limit yourself to three meals (or 5 small ones) a day, consisting of the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats.  On hard training days, I suggest balanced and nutrient-dense snacks to fuel performance and keep weight in check.  Specific dietary protocols are required – and differ – for training, weight management, recovery and racing.  We will be addressing why periodizing your diet is essential, and we’ll be providing suggestions on meal plans and simple recipe examples during each phase in upcoming newsletters.

Keep it professional. Studies now support the connection between adequate vitamin and mineral stores and weight management.  Since our bodies cannot MAKE vitamins, we have to eat them. Yes, you can get all the vitamins and minerals you need from your food, as long as you regularly consume 5-10 vegetables and fruits, the right amount of minerals based on that day’s physical demands, and all the other cell-building, brain-enhancing, hormone-balancing nutrients from your meals each day.  As athletes, the metabolic demands on your bodies are great; therefore, so are your nutritional needs.  For ALL of our athletes, we suggest high-quality, professional grade supplements for baseline insurance.  Avoid the retail, mass-marketed supplement brands.  Who knows what fillers have been added, the conditions in which they’re formulated, or where the ingredients have been sourced (remember the melamine in our dog food?).  Yep, they’re cheap – and they also are made with substandard ingredients that don’t dissolve, get absorbed or have any effect.  Supplements carried through healthcare professionals are worth their weight in gold.

That’s it for this week.  In the next newsletter we’ll cover the other three factors that impact weight management.  Until then train safe, stay healthy, and hope to see you at the races.

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