An athlete’s diet is one of many variables that impact performance. While much attention is given to fueling for performance on race day, little attention is paid to what an athlete eats in during the months where races are few and far between. Yet, most of us age groupers could stand to lose a few pounds. Why don’t more coaches and media outlets talk about? My guess is because it is often a difficult discussion to have.
The bottom line is as follows. Most of use should lose a couple pounds. The time to do it is the off season. Discipline is really the key to making it happen. The rest is just fine tuning. Here is whole lot of fine tuning.
The time to lose weight is during the months of low volume training. During this time of year your caloric needs are low. This is in part because of the lesser demands of training, but also because most of us are less active this time of year during our free time.
Just like your training plan is periodized with different focuses at different points throughout the year, so should be your diet. This time of year is when you should be focused the most on eating healthy and reducing calories. Box up the powders and gels and supplements. Eat real food. Training volume is lowest. It is the time when your schedule typically has the most flexibility to prepare good meals. And, it is when we are most frequently tempted to eat the trash provided by well-meaning co-workers, friends, and family members at work and at social gatherings.
Here’s a simple economic principles that are key for your understanding: Marginal Return. Stated simply, it is the value you get from one extra unit of something. After a killer workout in the summer heat, how good is that first beer and pizza slice? On a scale of 1 to 10 it’s like a 17. But what’s the pleasure derived from beer and ‘za number four, or six, or eight? Not quite as high, huh? That’s marginal return. Always highest early on, then declining as the number of units increases. So goes with your holiday treats.
You aunt’s cookies are probably amazing. I get it. Eat one and savor it. Maybe it’ll cost you an additional 15 minutes of cardio to burn the calories and be totally worth it because of it’s awesomeness (with awesomeness being, of course, a commonly accepted synonym for Marginal Return). But again, what about eating 6 of them after an second serving of entre food? Now were talking a couple extra hours (that you don’t have) of cardio. And did the last couple cookies really make your experience at the party that much better? Doubt it.
This is a truncated version of the first part of a Weight Loss For Triathletes presentation Coach Bees gave last month.