Protein and fat loss in sportspersons

7 November, 2014

The following recommendations are intended ONLY for sportspersons who do strength training (i.e. who practice crossfit, bodybuilding or even weightlifting), are quite strong, and carry out their activity diligently week after week.

Are you diligently pursuing strength training, do you want to lose weight and do you gauge your progress constantly by checking your weight on the bathroom scales? That, in my opinion, is a bad start.

I repeat the same sentence every day, several times a day, to each person who steps into my office. I’ve decided to share it with you today so that those of you who are currently on a diet can shift focus before it’s too late.

“Personally, I care little about the reading on bathroom scales. What interests me is the percentage of an individual’s body fat, closely linked to his visual appearance and level of muscle definition. So if you ask me, dear customer, I believe your aim is to lose fat, not weight.”

What is strength training?
It refers to training with an additional resistance in the form of weights or simply with the use of body weight. Bodybuilding, Crossfit and weightlifting are all examples of strength training.

So the main objective lies in decreasing the percentage of fat and not necessarily in decreasing the reading on your bathroom scales. Why feel guilty because you’ve gained some muscle?

As a strength athlete, the ideal will be to maintain maximum muscle mass (in fact, this is true for everyone!). Just remember that the more developed your muscles are, the greater will be your body’s ability to burn calories, so you can lose fat more easily or simply eat more and maintain your weight.

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SCIENCE TEACHES US THAT…

An article published recently in the scientific journal, the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism analyzed several studies and was able to demonstrate that the most effective weight loss, i.e., the one that allows us maximum lean body mass, was achieved with protein intakes exceeding 2 grams of protein per kilo of lean body mass.

If you weigh 100 kg with 20% fat (i.e., 80 kg of lean body mass), this is how to do the calculation:
80 kg x 2.3 g (the minimum according to scientific data) = 184 g of protein/day

Strength athletes with a very low percentage of body fat might even consume up to 3.1 grams of protein per kilo of lean body mass during fat loss.

SO…

What does this all mean? To summarize, all strength athletes who believe they can lose weight optimally with a diet that’s low in protein (but often very high in fruits and vegetables) are making a big mistake… At the end of the day, are you losing fat or muscle?


REFERENCES:A Systematic Review of Dietary Protein During Caloric Restriction in Resistance Trained Lean Athletes: A Case for Higher Intakes” by Helms ER, Zinn C, Rowlands DS, Brown SR International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism © 2013 Human Kinetics, Inc.

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Author

Steven Couture

Steven Couture

Registered Dietitian, RD at stevencouture.ca

As the founder of www.nutritionniste-sportif.ca and a trainer in nutrition at www.xpertise360.com, Steven is a renowned sports nutritionist. Being recognized for his numerous talents and contributions in sports, Steven serves as a nutritionist for many athletes. He also helps with weight management.

Steven Couture

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