THE HEALTHY WAY
Tara Gidus Collingwood
If you’re an athlete trying to lose weight, finding a balance between energy in and energy out can be tough. It’s all about eating the right food in the right amount at the right times.
Follow these tips to lose weight the healthy way, and still maintain performance and energy levels:
Create a calorie deficit
A daily deficit of 250 calories will help you lose approximately half a pound per week. Try either (1) eating 250 calories less each day or (2) eating 100 calories less each day and burning 150 additional calories with extra activity.
Watch your portion sizes
While it might be tempting to cut all of those extra calories from one meal or snack, it’s best to take a little from all of your meals and snacks. Try using an app like My Fitness Pal to decrease your portions and increase your awareness.
Focus on what and when you’re eating
- Carbs: Opt for complex carbs and reduce intake away from physical activity. What makes a carbohydrate complex? It’s generally higher in fiber than its refined counterpart, which helps to keep you feeling fuller longer.
- Choose whole grains, brown rice, and whole-wheat options as often as possible. And don’t forget, while carbs are essential pre- and post-workout it’s safe to reduce carbs and increase veggies two hours after activity.
- Protein: Don’t compromise how much protein you eat in order to lose weight—getting enough will aid in performance and recovery. Aim for 1.5-1.8 g/kg of bodyweight per day.
- Fat: Whereas carbs and protein are essential to athletic performance, fat can be reduced without impacting play. Choose reduced-fat options of your favorite foods and cooking methods—think grilled instead of fried, Greek yogurt-based salad dressings, and steamed veggies.
Cure your sweet tooth—the healthy way
Most sweet treats are loaded with refined sugar, an ingredient that does little to fuel your performance. If you have a sweet tooth that can’t be satisfied, opt for healthy alternatives. Try fresh fruit, frozen greek yogurt cups, or rice cakes to kick those cravings.
Healthy, low-calorie snacks will help bridge the gaps between meals, which will prevent you from overindulging when presented with food. Depending on your needs, snacks can be anywhere from 100-200 calories.
Drinking plenty of water can help you feel satisfied between meals and enhance digestion. While water is best, other zero-calorie beverages will keep you hydrated without derailing your weight-loss efforts.
Remember, slow and steady weight loss is best. Aim to lose no more than one pound each week—this will ensure that your performance stays strong, your energy levels stay high, and weight is lost from fat instead of muscle.
Tara Gidus Collingwood is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition, fitness and health promotion. She is currently the nutrition consultant to the USTA National Campus with Andrews Institute and Nemours, the team dietitian for the Orlando Magic NBA team, the nutrition consultant to University of Central Florida Athletic Department and a nutrition and exercise executive coach at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute.