Last week, I talked about the advantages of getting leaner and lowering your body fat percentage before the next race season. If you’re heavier than you should be with a higher body fat than you would like then you might decide to go on a weight loss diet.
The next question might then be “Which one do I choose?” Every year, there’s another diet, another celeb launching another book or a video about their regime and how to drop the weight quickly ……it’s so confusing.
Some of the more popular ones you may have heard of ; the Zone diet, the Atkins diet and the newer Low Carbohydrate High Fat diet (LCHF). The Zone diet tells you the maximum amount of carbohydrate you should eat, the Atkins diet increases the protein and fat you eat and decreases the carbohydrate, the LCHF diet does what it says on the tin….it lowers the carbohydrate and increases the fat that you eat on a daily basis.
As an endurance athlete, you need to ignore all of them! The majority are designed for sedentary people who have different nutritional requirements to someone training for triathlons or long distance running, cycling or swimming races.
What these diets all have in common is that they demonise carbohydrate and restrict calorie intake which will result in a body weight reduction but their success rate is poor and the majority of people who go on them put the weight back on and sometimes more. That said, each diet has contributed to our learning about what is important for endurance athletes.
If as a highly motivated endurance athlete you want to get leaner you could use one of the low carb diet options but you need to be aware that this may reduce your capacity to train and limit improvements in body composition and therefore performance. There is also a risk that if the energy deficit is too large, that the protein in your muscles will be cannabilsed to make up for this.
All three energy sources ie carbohydrates, proteins and fats are important for the endurance athlete for different reasons. Failure to eat enough of all of these nutrients in the right proportions especially if you are trying to get leaner, will potentially affect both your training and results. As an endurance athlete, you need to match your intake of these nutrients & the timing to what you are asking your body to do in your training. If this all seems very confusing and you want more help in demystifying this area, then make sure you watch my Facebook Live broadcasts on Monday at 7pm. Facebook www.facebook.com/thecompeater