Weight Management - My Fit Plan
Footballers are some of the worst culprits of whacky techniques for dropping a few pounds. Bin bag running, dehydration techniques, ridiculous weight loss drinks and a million other common but ineffective techniques have all been used to drop a bit of weight.
Non-league seems to be a breeding ground for bad habits involving some crazy ideas and food choices so I think it’s about time to spread a little bit of advice for those guys looking to drop a bit of extra chub.
The concept literally could not be simpler, if you eat more than your energy expenditure then you’ll gain weight, if you eat less then you’ll lose. If you’re looking to get into exactly what you’re energy expenditure or BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is just count your calories during a period in which you are maintaining your weight for 7 days and then divide that by 7 to give you an average daily expenditure. This will obviously be a rough estimate as fluctuations will occur dependant on a number of factors not least the exercise in which you are taking part in as an aspiring footballer, but the key is consistency rather than accuracy. Most people have about 4 or 5 set meals that they change between so as long as you use the same figures every time it will be easy to manipulate. If you want to lose weight then eat less than this, amazingly simple right?
Counting calories seems to have got a bad rep and I don’t really like that. It’s not the concept that is flawed it’s the people misusing it. Obsessive calorie restriction is a cause of serious mental and health issues and should not be underestimated but short term calorie counting simply to work out your BMR and put yourself in a MARGINAL calorie deficit isn’t necessarily a bad idea. I wouldn’t recommend it long term but for as long as it works, you’re losing the amount of weight you desire and you’re maintaining your health through nutrient dense food and fuelling your performance there really isn’t too much of an issue.
Although attempting to lose weight or body fat in season isn’t the greatest idea due to the detrimental effects on performance in some cases, if you’re reading this you’ve obviously decided the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Now obviously there are a million things to consider as well to make sure your health stays in check, you retain muscle mass, your performance doesn’t drop and etc so I’ll outline some key concepts to remember when in a calorie deficit (eating less than your BMR).
· Eat as much as possible whilst still losing weight- It seems strange but everyone when trying to lose weight seems to immediately default to extreme calorie restriction. The key is to eat as much as possible whilst still losing therefore when you inevitably plateau and weight loss stops, you can just reduce again ever so slightly to continue losing without restricting your body of what it needs and also keeping your sanity.
· Make sure you’re protein intake is relatively high- If you’re looking to maintain your muscle mass whilst in a calorie deficit protein intake is going to be vital. A range of sources and at an absolute minimum of 1g per kg of bodyweight, I’d recommend slightly more.
· Do not neglect micronutrient needs- Vegetables and greens are very low calorie so there is no excuse to cut back, a range of varieties colours, flavours and a lot of them. Not only will you be protecting your health but also you’ll feel a ton of a lot better for it.
· Do not confuse a calorie deficit with low fat- Well sourced fats are vital for hormonal production and function, cell maintenance and loads of other things within the body. Fat does not make you fat, such a harmful common misconception. Fat from grass fed beef, good quality dairy, butter, coconut oil and etc are fantastic so enjoy but be aware of how calorie dense keeping your target consumption in mind.
· Carb confusion- Due to the need to maintain protein intake and keep relatively high fat, carbohydrates may be reduced but do not feel that you have to cut them out completely. With your high activity levels and need to maintain performance carbohydrates will play an important part in this so you may have to be slightly intelligent with your intake especially surrounding exercise
· Do not forget to count liquid calories- An easy and common mistake is eating to your daily BMR but then forgetting to count those sugar filled energy drinks, cans of coke, beer or anything else that is very calorie dense.
I’m certainly not an advocate of calorie counting for most but if done in a healthy and conservative way I do believe it is the most effective for athletes attempting to drop a bit of weight for optimal performance as it is easy to control the variables. See your body as a science experiment. Change one thing at a time and be aware of the results, that way you can be sure of what you are doing to your body and take actions for the future.
Obviously this is a very basic guide and a lot of thought needs to go into optimal nutrition but as always if you’d like to work with any of the MyFitPlan coaches or simply get an answer to any question you have about training, nutrition or injuries then just send me over an email, tweet, facebook or use the website.
Hope this helps guys, would love to get some feedback and questions as well so please do get in touch.
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