Sep 25, 2018
Weight Loss Myths
Michelle Rockwell

When athletes are looking to lose weight, they don’t always find accurate information to help them reach goals. Here’s a look at several things they should NOT do:

Don’t Skip Meals …

Skipping meals may seem like an easy strategy to cut calories, but it’s also a sure way to slow metabolism and deplete energy levels. Athletes should eat four to five times per day. The two most important fueling times are breakfast (within one hour of waking up) and refueling (within one-half to one hour of completing hard workouts).

Don’t Eliminate Favorite Foods …

There is no reason to completely eliminate favorite foods or foods eaten frequently. This will just make the athlete crave them more.

Don’t Risk Dehydration …

Some athletes are pleased by the weight they lose during training sessions. But they should not be. Weight lost during exercise is almost exclusively fluid loss that must be replaced to support recovery.

Athletes should also understand that fluid needs are often higher during calorie restriction. Those watching their intake sometimes make the mistake of restricting the amount they drink. But drinking plenty of water is an important part of both weight loss and athletic performance.

Athletes should also continue to use sports drinks before, during, and after activity. Some athletes who are losing weight worry about the calories in sports drinks, but these should be the last calories they’re concerned about. Sports drinks provide a small amount of energy in the form of sugar that can help delay fatigue. These are not the calories to cut.

Don’t Follow Fad Diets …

Fad diets, especially low-carbohydrate diets like Atkins, South Beach, and Sugar Busters, are extremely inappropriate for athletes training intensely because carbohydrates are the primary fuel for both exercising muscles and the brain. Any diet or meal plan that is extremely strict or excludes a major food group will wreak havoc on an athlete’s ability to train well.

Image by TomJasendro.

Michelle Rockwell, MS, RD, is the former Coordinator of Sports Nutrition at the University of Florida and now serves as a nutrition consultant for several sports teams ranging from youth to collegiate to professional.

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