Whether you are a competitive or recreational athlete, body composition is always a priority. Particularly, an increase in muscle and a decrease in body fat seem to be everyone’s desire – and I don’t blame them. It’s what I work for as well!
Some people are blessed with genes which provide them with a lean physique, while others require more work and effort to reach their desired goals. Indeed, weight loss is a tedious process which needs to be tackled in the correct manner to see long-lasting results. Weight loss is achieved via a culmination of factors rather than simply burning more calories than you consume. Having said that, let’s take a look at alternative strategies to optimally lose weight without hindering your health and exercise performance.
1. Avoid severe calorie restriction
I know it’s tempting to lose weight quickly, especially if summer is around the corner. Resist the temptation, though, and lose weight the proper way. Severely restricting calories, in combination with exercising every day, will only impair your metabolism and slow the weight loss process. By putting yourself in a constant calorie deficit, you’ll most probably be losing weight from muscle rather than fat. Muscle is not the source we want to be losing weight from!
2. Consume low-calorie foods
Energy dense foods are those of high-calories. When on the pursuit of weight loss, make sure to consume foods low in energy (or calories). Eat foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes/beans and lean meats. Such foods, which are high in fiber, protein and water, will increase satiety and allow you to consume less food throughout the day, while also ensuring appropriate intake of essential nutrients.
3. Avoid high-calorie beverages
Avoid the extra consumption of calories by sticking to water and other low-calories beverages, such as coconut water. For coffee and tea lovers, don’t add extra sugar to your drink nor opt for the choices which contain cream and other additives (i.e. frappuccino). Avoid fruit juices as much as possible (full of sugar), or at least limit them to breakfast time. Above all, completely eliminate soft drinks.
4. Increase protein intake
Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to increase protein intake during your weight loss journey. As I already mentioned, weight loss may incur more from a loss of muscle rather than fat. To ensure you are losing weight from fat rather than muscle mass, increase your protein intake to preserve muscle and facilitate a greater weight loss from fat. Include sources of lean meats and low-fat dairies for a higher daily protein intake.
As a final piece of advice, I suggest you decrease your calorie intake by 500-700 kcal/day to ensure proper weight loss and avoid the potential for weight regain. This strategy has been shown in the literature to be an effective and healthy way to lose weight and sufficient enough not to be detrimental to exercise performance and energy levels.
Be healthy but also be smart when it comes to weight loss!