It’s not only possible to lose weight as an endurance athlete at a low-volume training time, it’s actually the best possible time to do it. There are minimal performance goals and you have plenty of extra time to spend the energy on a new approach to food organization and preparation.
Rule 1: Avoid White, Processed Carbs as well as Most Dairy
Cutting out these carbohydrates can have a significant impact on the quality of your daily diet: bread, pasta, rice, cereal, potatoes, etc. The only time to consider this type of food is either just before or just after a workout. By workout I mean exercise of 45 minutes or more in duration; with longer and/or harder efforts requiring more calories to for recovery, although not all of them should be from carbohydrates. Dropping dairy as it has high calories per serving of nutrients has driven me to find similar consistent sources of vitamin D and calcium elsewhere such as milk as it has a high glycaemic load.
Rule 2: Eat Sensible Amounts of Good Food
Identify good sources of lean protein and build them into effective, easy to prepare quality meals that are filling because of their content
Rule 3: Make Recovery Into A Meal
Partly to save time and partly to get the protein the muscles need after a tough workout, try to make a recovery shake (1 cup Almond Milk, 1 banana, 1 scoop Whey Protein). To make the impact of the shake greater, add ice (6 cubes) and almost another cup of water. This helps to hydrate you and fills you up.
Rule 4: Define Eating Times & Develop Portion Control
You can get incredible results from making these two basic changes.
The first part is as simple as it is tough: No Food after 7pm.
The second part, portion control, is also critical. Even good food can add up to have a high metabolic cost if you eat unlimited amounts of it. Serve dinner meals on a salad plate. Many times we want to keep eating when we don’t need to; our brain hasn’t gotten the “full” message from the stomach and sometimes just having some water and waiting a few minutes will do the trick.
Rule 5: Tricks, Tweaks and an Eating Holiday
Here are the things to help you when your brain wants to eat but your body doesn’t need to.
Hunger Testing Protocol: Two glasses of water. If you think you might be hungry, try two 8-oz glasses of water and wait five minutes. If you are still hungry, then consider a small healthy snack.
Behavioural Hunger Issue / Oral Fixation? Try chewing gum to keep your mouth busy when you are not eating. This little treat gives you a sweet fix without compromising your diet goals.
One Binge Meal A Week. On this day you can eat anything you want. Yes, anything. First it’s good for your body to have nutritional variety (even the bad kind), and mentally this makes “staying good” with your food that much easier.
The above advice is perhaps overly simple, but it’s certainly effective. Tackling body composition is not an easy journey, and to be done right a long-term commitment to eating and living well needs to be made. Many approach the weight challenge with insane reams of data regarding calories and glycaemic index numbers. The simpler your final protocol is, the more likely it is that you will be able to start — and continue — to execute it.