BLOG FITNESS, WEIGHT, PROGRESS
February 21, 2014
Weight Loss VS. Performance Goals
If you are a runner, triathlete, or competitive anything, this post is for you. In the training world we often help individuals who have goals to lose weight, tone up, and/ or compete in a race. If you are in this boat one thing to remember this this: weight goals and performance goals are different.
If you want to run in a race and perform well, that is great. If you want to lose weight, that is awesome, too. But doing both at the same time can lead to bad results. Separate your goals and work on one at a time. The needs and actions required for weight loss are different than those required for increasing performance. Let’s look at why:
We will use running as our performance example. An individual who wants to increase their running performance will need to do some key things: run according to a plan, lift weights, eat well, and get lots of rest. Their training will include long runs, tempo runs, sprints, strength workouts, and lots of soft tissue work (massage). They will need to eat a balanced diet with enough carbohydrates to fuel their runs. Sleep is important as well as the body will need to recover from the days work.
An individual who wants to lose weight will need to do the following: train according to a plan, lift weights, eat well, and get lots of rest…
What’s the difference?
The difference is actually quite immense. The individual who wants to lose weight may only need to eat 1,200 – 1,800 calories per day. Their training volume should be between 3 to 5 hours per week and they should still make time to sleep. The runner, on the other hand, needs to eat 1,200-1,800 calories per day AND whatever extra calories to fuel their training. In weight loss mode, we modify the training and eating so that your body burns excess fat. For performance training, the goal is to fuel the body so that it can be in prime function for the runs. If you try to increase your awesomeness at running while also trying to lose weight, you place yourself in an interesting hormonal situation.
When you decrease your calories, your body will naturally decrease your resting metabolism. Also, when you exercise and burn calories, your body will also decrease your metabolism to try to save energy throughout the day. This decrease in metabolism is often not noticeable, but if you track your steps you should see them drop. You just lose the motivation to move around much more throughout the day. If you combine epic training and weight loss eating, your body can slip into a state where it will not want you to expend any more calories than absolutely necessary.
Imagine that your resting metabolic rate is 1,800 calories per day. If you decrease your calories to 1,300 calories per day and pick up some exercise, you should be able to lose about a pound a week. This is taking into consideration that your resting metabolic rate (RMR) will drop. But, if you add performance training onto this, and you are burning 500-1000 calories during your training session, this does not leave much for your body to live off of. It will do whatever it can to slow your RMR to conserve calories for essential uses, and can even set you up to store much of the food you eat as fat.
In a nutshell, if you combine your performance and weight loss goal, you will achieve neither to your fullest potential. However, if you separate them, and attack one at a time, you can achieve both exactly to your expectations.
If you are a runner and are interested in learning more about how your weight effects performance, check out “Racing Weight”” written by Matt Fitzgerald.