I’m frequently asked about the best ways to attain your ideal racing weight.
As triathletes, we must strive to attain that perfect balance between lean body mass, power and immune health (it does no good to drop so much weight that we get a cold during race week, or if we feel dead trying to run up a hill).
Here are some of my tips to find your optimal weight and drop those last pesky pounds:
- Sleep: Getting a full night of sleep is paramount if we’re to attain the ideal weight loss. Aim for 8 to 9 hours per night. Establish the same nightly routine and be sure to turn off your electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime. Sleeping in a dark room will elevate your natural production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Testosterone. These are doubly powerful to enhance muscle resynthesis and recovery: heightening lean body mass.
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Adding HIIT sessions to your routine 3 times per week will rev up your metabolism (and make you faster!) During a 9’ to 25’ minute session, inject up to 6 to 12 bursts of 15” – 2’ with plenty of rest in between. These short segments in your swim, bike and run workouts will work wonders for your lean body mass. Don’t forget the HIIT strength training, which should include 2 to 4 full body exercises. The final exercise in your strength routine should combine your major muscles in one movement. Gluteals, quads, back, shoulders and arms are all huge stimulus to elevate HGH and Testosterone. Taking the exercises to hearty fatigue increases the post metabolic furnace and equates to burning fat!
- Don’t eat late: Have your last round of food at least 2 hours before heading to bed. Your final snack should be a healthy fat or protein with minimal carbs.
- Exercise in the morning without eating: will dramatically increase fat oxidation. Aim for 12 to 15 hours of fasting from dinner to breakfast on light training days. This fasting block combined with exercise will fast track your fat burning.
- Eat breakfast but skip the juices: If the exercise is HIIT and longer, you will need to eat a lighter breakfast. If you’re shifting to a LCHF diet, the minimal intake of carbs is key. The carbs for breakfast should be in the range of 15 to 25 grams depending upon lean mass, fitness level and desired intensity of the workout. Protein grams should be in the range of 8 to 25 grams and healthy fat from 15- 35 grams. Be careful with an excess of juices, grains and packaged products. Increasing fat oxidation or burning is the key to driving a leaner body. If you overload breakfast with an excessive amount of carbs or protein the access to fat burning is dramatically negated.
- Don’t graze during the day: Allow 2 to 3 hours between meals and snacks to help your body establish its optimal leptin and ghrelin cycles. Leptin is the key hormone that registers “fullness”. Grehlin is the key hormone that signals “hunger”. Continual eating throws off the insulin and glucose levels that can regulate appetite and appetite suppression.Fats create a satiating effect and this controls your appetite. Carbs are the creators of grazing.
- Eat protein at every meal and increase healthy fats: Healthy fat is NOT your enemy! Try to eat whole foods as much as possible. Eating packaged, processed foods and refined carbs are the curse of the midsection! Start your meals with a healthy fat and your gut / brain connection will immediately quell your desire to eat more. Protein is paramount for strength or endurance athletes and the excessive protein will convert to sugar. Moderate protein levels at 1.2 to 2 grams / kilogram of lean body weight is recommended. Portion this out for your 3 meals and pre- or post-exercise.
- Limit alcohol: Particularly spirits. I tell my athletes that — if they’re truly serious about reaching their optimal racing weights — they should forego alcohol for the last 3 weeks before their key races. Optimal race weight must be attained over the final 3 weeks. Don’t lose weight dramatically! Loss of lean mass is quite common if athletes drop 1 to 2% in the last week before their races.
- Add Caffeine and spice: Chili peppers, green tea, cayenne, jalapenos, coffee, turmeric, cinnamon and guarana all boost metabolism, so feel free to add liberally to your diet.
- Take care of your gut: Take a probiotic (30 billion or higher) or eat fermented foods each day like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, pickled veggies and bone broth all of these foods are on the AAA list for enhancing health and lean body mass.
- Don’t sit for over 60 minutes: Move around throughout the day. Try to take a walk break or move around for about 5 minutes each hour, especially if you have an office job.
- Try a ketogenic diet: A ketogenic diet reduces visceral and body fat while increasing lean muscle mass. I’m a proponent of this style of eating. If you want to learn more about the LCHF lifestyle and the ketogenic diet, email me or check my website for articles on the subject.
This is just a summarized list of tips for helping you achieve the ideal racing weight. If any interest you, be sure to do your own research or consult your local health care expert.
In my experience, attaining your best healthy weight makes all the difference on race day. It can’t be rushed, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to dial it in so as not to compromise your performance.