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Lose Weight While Having Enough Energy to Workout

December 22, 2020 ,

It can be difficult to lose weight while still having enough energy left to exercise. Here are five tips to help you reach your goals!

1) Fuel properly for your workouts

Before, during and after exercise are the times when your body needs the most energy, so your caloric intake at these times should remain optimal. Even if you’re not very hungry after a high-intensity or long-duration training, it’s important to still eat a meal or snack that contains enough carbohydrates and protein. It is best to reduce your caloric intake at other times of the day when you are less active.

2) Don’t cut out all the carbs

Most fad diets intended to help you lose weight are low in carbohydrates, or even very low in carbohydrates. However, for athletes, a very low-carb diet is not a good option, since carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for high-intensity exercise. Training with low carbohydrate availability will affect the quality of training, increase recovery time and decrease sports performance. To lose weight, you need to have a calorie deficit. For some, it can be achieved simply by cutting out unnecessary calories like alcohol and sweets and avoiding snacking at night when not hungry. However, if you don’t usually consume a lot of junk food, the ideal solution would be to reduce your carbohydrate intake a little bit (for example, instead of eating a big plate of spaghetti, you could reduce your portion of noodles and add a side salad), but also to avoid using excessive amounts of added fats. Fats provide nine calories per gram while carbohydrates provide only four calories per gram. One tablespoon (15 ml) of oil or butter provides about 130 calories. Knowing that it takes a calorie deficit of 500 Calories per day to lose a pound of fat per week, reducing your intake of added fat can make a difference. It is best to obtain your fats mostly from nutritious foods like avocado, nuts and seeds which provide healthy fats but also other nutrients such as protein and fiber, rather than using a lot of oil or butter.

3) Choose high-fiber carbohydrates

Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that can be found in plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. In Canada, daily fiber requirements are set at 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. However, according to Statistics Canada, most Canadians consume only half of the recommended amount of fiber. Fiber promotes satiety and is therefore useful in helping to reduce caloric intake without feeling hungry. Several studies show that a high fiber intake is beneficial for weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. Indeed, in a 20-month study, each increase of 1 g of total fiber consumed per day was associated with a decrease in body weight of 0.25 kg. A literature review included the results of more than 50 intervention studies evaluating the relationship between caloric intake, body weight and fiber intake, and estimated that an increase in fiber of 14 g per day was associated with a 10% decrease in caloric intake and a weight loss of 2 kg over a period of about 4 months.

4) Aim for a small calorie deficit, and listen to your hunger signals

Inadequate caloric intake can have serious consequences on the health of athletes (for both men and women) including micronutrient deficiencies such as iron and calcium, an increased risk of injury and infection, a decrease in bone mineral density and therefore an increased risk of stress fractures, and a decrease in athletic performance. Thus, for athletes who have a high training volume and who want to lose weight, it is important to aim for slow weight loss with a small caloric deficit per day, and only during a short period of time. If you are hungry, it is important to listen to your body and eat. Depriving yourself of food will not help you lose weight in the long run, since your body will adapt and decrease its resting metabolism, causing you to burn fewer calories at rest. In the long term, this may negatively affect weight management.

5) Spread your protein intake throughout the day

During a weight loss process, protein requirements are higher in order to maintain muscle mass and promote satiety. However, many athletes consume enough protein and often even eat too much, but do not optimally distribute their intake throughout the day. It is important to divide your protein into a minimum of 4 to 5 meals and/or snacks per day. When you are in a calorie deficit, you should consume 0.3 to 0.4 g of protein per kilogram of body weight at each meal, which is equivalent to an average of 20 to 30g of protein per meal.

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Kathryn Adel
Kathryn completed degrees in kinesiology and nutrition, as well as a Masters in Sports Nutrition. She is a member of OPDQ and of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She ran track and cross-country at a national level. Kathryn specializes in sports nutrition, weight loss, diabetes, as well as heart and gastrointestinal health. Kathryn is experienced with the low FODMAP diet and she completed the Monash University low FODMAP dietitian's training.

4 comments to “Lose Weight While Having Enough Energy to Workout”

January 2, 2021 Elke S said:

“However, if you don’t usually consume a lot of unnecessary calories, the ideal solution would be to reduce your carbohydrate intake a little, but also reduce added fats.”

Instead of promoting a reduction of necessary calories in this case, wouldn’t promoting acceptance of that person’s current weight be the most appropriate thing to do?

January 3, 2021 Kathryn Adel, MS, RD, CSSD said:

Yes you are right, by unnecessary calories I meant junk food, I will edit my article. My point was that in some cases when it is justified to lose weight, for example athletes who are overweight or who have body composition goals for a specific sport, instead of following a low carb diet they should also pay attention to portions of fats. Basically even if they are consuming healthy foods, portions are still important. For example, instead of eating a big plate of spaghetti, they could add a nice salad as a side dish, and they should avoid using large amounts of oil for cooking, even if it’s a healthy oil like olive oil.

September 25, 2023 Thomas Black said:

I want to get very lean. I also do 17 hr intermittent fasting. So, my first meal comes at 1pm. I prefer working out earlier in the day. I usually workout at 9:30am. Or 11am. However, that is a problem, since I should have my post workout meal within 30-45 mins of finishing my workout. I am 200lbs right now. I want to get back down to 175-180lbs. This means I must reduce my calories to 1300-1400 a day. Have 175 grams of protein, and add some carbs so I have energy to workout. So, I am thinking, some grilled chicken and a sweet potato for breakfast. Fish/grill chicken and spinach for lunch. And the same for dinner. Maybe a yogurt for a snack. Thoughts?

September 28, 2023 Naseem said:

Intermittent fasting

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