Weight management

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Appropriate management of one's weight throughout the sports season is key to performance. Indeed, gaining weight is a limiting factor of performance and athletes are very careful about this. In addition, some sports may require body weight adaptation to meet an objective. The diet is another determining factor of sports performance, just like training and recovery.

Energy expenditure / Energy intake

Body weight stability depends on the balance between your energy intake and expenditure. Any excess intake that is not compensated by an increase in expenditures will lead to the storage of excess energy as fats, and therefore weight gain.

Conversely, any energy deficiency can lead to weight loss, resulting in muscle wasting that may be detrimental to performance.

Energy expenditure

  • Energy used for body function,
  • Energy used to move and perform a physical activity,
  • Energy used to digest food.

Energy intake

It refers to the calorie intake provided by the food we eat. The body breaks them down into proteins, lipids and carbohydrates.

The notion of fitness weight

Fitness weight is often referred to in endurance sports and weight category sports. The fitness weight is the weight at which an athlete will feel the best and achieve the best performance. Consequently, the fitness weight is not necessarily the lowest possible weight.

How to find your fitness weight?

The fitness weight is not based on precise objective criteria. It is determined by the overall assessment of each athlete. It is a very subjective notion, based on the athlete's own perception of their experience, competitions and ability to maintain a certain weight without experiencing food frustration or deprivation. The fitness weight results from the balance between, on one side, maintaining a stable weight that is appropriate for your sport, and on the other side eating your fill, with no deprivation.

Notion of fat mass in athletes

The proportion of fat mass may determine if the body composition is correct or not. This rate is interesting to monitor the change in body composition as part of a weight loss or muscle development program.

The proportion of fat mass recommended for athletes is as follows:

  • 9 - 13% for men
  • 12 - 22% for women

Objective: weight loss

Losing weight may be necessary to reach a certain weight category or to reach your fitness weight.

For a slimming diet to be effective, it must reduce daily energy intakes while providing enough nutrients (proteins, lipids and carbohydrates) to meet your needs.

How:

  • Reduce your carbohydrate intake, but not below 2.5g / kg of body weight / day,
  • Opt for complex carbohydrates (starch foods) over simple carbohydrates (sweets),
  • Cut down on fatty foods, a small volume provides high energy intake,
  • Increase your protein intake to protect your muscle mass,
  • Make sure your diet includes enough vitamins and minerals (fruits and vegetables).

Weight loss is effective when it is gradual and does not involve high energy reduction. Expect to lose between 0.5 and 2kg /week depending on the amount of weight you have to lose.

Certain athletes who do weight category sports undertake very restrictive diets to lose weight in a short period of time when the competitive season approaches. This nutritional strategy may be harmful to the athletes if it is not supervised. It may result in physiological disorders detrimental to health and performances.

Objective: Muscle mass gain

Muscle mass gain may be desired to develop one's force, strength or to meet an aesthetic aspiration. To promote muscle mass gain, nutrition plays an essential role, combined with a muscle development program.

How?

The calorie intake should equals the daily calorie expenditure.

The protein intake is increased and should amount to approximately 2-2.5g /kg of body weight / day.

The protein intake in post-workout recovery phase is crucial. This intake should amount to approximately 20g of fast-assimilating protein (whey)

Marie Fauchille
Dietician | Nutritionist
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Good nutrition: your best ally for performing at the gym? A question I will try to answer... A balanced diet is a positive influence on your fitness and your health; it's a fact. Do you still need to know what foods to eat?

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