Weight management is necessary for some athletes. Sports that include weight classes may require atheltes to stay within a specific weight range. This is managable so long as healthy diet practices are followed.
When athletes start to worry that their body 'doesn't look like an athlete' of their sport or doesn't look the way they think it should is when I start to worry. This is when unhealthy diet habits can occur, which often times cause more harm than good to an athlete and their performance.
Here are a few things to understand before you dive into a strict diet plan:
1. The energy cost of weight loss does not always equal 3,500 kcal/lb (7,700 kcal/kg) and changes over time even when the level of energy restriction is held constant. Individuals will lose weight differently on the same weight loss diet, even if no exercise is part of the weight loss plan.
2. Total energy intake and composition of the diet, meaning the level of food processing, volume of food consumed, macronutrient composition, fiber content, impacts energy expenditure more than anything else. This is why I often say I would rather see someone eat 200 kcals of carrots than a 100 kcal cookie.
3. When trying to lose body fat, it can often be an unwanted result to lose muscle mass as well. To preserve lean tissue during periods of energy restriction, an athletes protein intake needs to remain high, about 1.2-1.7 g/kg/day.
4. It is important to understand that your body weight will fluxuate throughout the year, depending on many factors like your level of training, hydration status, sleep, and the obvious one, the quality and quantity of food intake.
5. Working with a Registered Dietitian is you best chance at acheving your weight goals for your sport.