Managing Weight with Training Tools

The general population puts the majority of focus on weight numbers but as endurance athletes our goal is to make our bodies effective and efficient machines.  We already push ourselves physically and mentally and many focus on the effectiveness of our weight and bodies’ composition.  Power to weight is a great example of this efficiency, making each pound productive in reaching a final goal.  As athletes, one of the hardest things can often be maintaining weight during a taper or transition period when volume and/or intensity is low.  During these times it becomes more important to utilize many of the tools that are at our disposal including: testing, heart rate monitors, power meters and especially a 3 day nutrition log.

Calculating Your Burn Rate

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is a measurement of what our body would burn calorically if we were completely sedentary.  This number is what it takes our body to simply sustain life.  There are several things that can alter this including age, weight, body composition, supplementation, medications and stress.  Your numbers for RMR can be estimated with many online calculators, my personal favorite being at shapeup.org.  If you are looking to personalize it for yourself you can do a resting metabolic rate test, which we offer at Science of Speed.  This test gives you precise data that is specific to your own bodies needs and adds a much greater level of accuracy.

HR monitors and power meters can be a good way to gauge our total calories burnt.  Heart rate can have it’s inaccuracies, however, it can help you track your trends in training with your weight and allow you to become proficient at estimating your needed calories.  If you are looking to add an even greater level of accuracy power meters are an amazing tool for tracking caloric burn through kJ, which correlate roughly 1:1 into calories.  Tracking these numbers with RMR, and a calculated estimate of your daily activity can give you very reliable numbers for your overall needs.

Tracking it

By far the most successful thing that I have found for my own personal weight maintenance and many of my athletes’ success is completing a nutritional log.  It is certainly something that you can do daily but it can take a fair amount of time.  Doing a three day period, including one weekend day, monthly or bi-monthly gives a realistic gauge of consumption vs. burn.  I have found two great apps that have lead to great success for many of my athletes.  Trainingpeaks.com’s mobile app helps track training and nutritional data and makes it a one stop shop for all of my athletes to see their schedule, upload training files and input their dietary intake.  Not looking for something quite so detailed?  Another very useful app is MyFitnessPal.  It is free, very user friendly and has many great features.  With both of these you get the ability scan barcodes, create your own meals and most importantly get a breakdown of calories as well as your percentages of carbohydrates, fats and proteins that you consume.

Maintainence or Loss

Each day’s nutrition can vary drastically.  From the long training sessions that lead to high caloric burn and the rest days that result in very low caloric needs so too will your caloric intake needs vary.  Much like training, tracking our nutrition can be a very good thing to help take you to that next level but it can be taken to the extremes.  A safe approach to weight loss is moderate weight loss (1-2lbs/wk ¹) over an extended period of time and by properly monitoring your nutrition and workload with the above listed tools you can track this very precisely and effectively reach your own weight loss goals. So, take that next step and begin tracking your nutrition.  Don’t track the days that you know are your “good” days, instead get a realistic snapshot and take a critical look at it.  If it is overwhelming to track your own training progress, nutritional progress and everything else that is involved we are here to help you bring the science to your training and help you make it to whatever your next level may be.

¹ http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/aim_hwt.pdf

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