If you are trying to lose weight, do so long before your event, be realistic with your goals and DO NOT use fad diets. Weight loss is best done in the off-season or during the early, less-intense part of your training plan for a few reasons.
In order to lose weight, you have to eat less calories than you burn. This deficit can make fueling the workout and recovery difficult if you’re following a rigorous training plan for a half or full marathon.
For example, the more you drive a car, the more gas and maintenance you need to do to that car. But if you can’t afford the gas or maintenance, the car will suffer. That is why, in the off-season or earlier part of training when you are NOT working your body out as hard, you can more easily afford the deficit.
It gives you more time to lose weight at a slower pace.
I know we all hear about magical, super fast weight loss journeys, but please know this sort of weight loss is rarely maintained or achieved. In addition, when you lose weight fast, you lose more muscle and less fat - that is not what we want.
If you lose one to two percent of your weight per week, you will be fine. For example, I weigh 150 pounds; this means that I could lose about one to three pounds each week. However, as an athlete, I would like to stick to the lower end of the scale so that I have energy and can recover better after workouts.
This extra time also allows you to make positive behavior changes and maintain the weight loss.
Fad diets encourage extreme changes, promise fast weight loss and almost always cause a weight rebound. By making small, realistic changes, however, you can incorporate them into your life like slowly. This will interrupt your life less while keeping some normalcy. For example, if you are eating way too much pasta and not enough vegetables, you can start by replacing pasta with an additional serving of a vegetables one night each week . Then make another small change,and over time, you’ll notice your efforts compound and lead to lasting results.
When working with clients, it is my goal is to teach them what they need to do to be healthy throughout their lives, not just look “good” for a short period of time. A well-balanced diet while exercising is the most effective way to manage your weight and health.
This is the third in a series of five nutrition related blog posts from P3R Event & Program Dietician Nick Fischer. He is a Registered Dietitian with a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Seton Hill University. Stop back each month for nutrition and planning tips if you're looking for nutritional and dietary guidance while training for the DICK'S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events.