Q: Losing weight without risking injury?

Dear Lauren,

I want to lose 5 pounds for the track season.  What is the best way to do that without risking injury?




Hey Speedy-

Losing weight is hard for everyone to do, even though its simple in theory: eat less calories than you burn.  As a competitive athlete, that simple formula can put you at risk of getting hurt because you aren’t just logging easy miles.  You are pushing your nervous system, doing interval workouts, and breaking down your tissues in ways that demand proper recovery.  If you don’t eat enough calories to meet your needs, your body will catabolize (basically eat) itself to provide the necessary fuel.  Gross.

Basically, you need your overall calories for the day to be less than you are burning, but you need to be very strategic about timing and what you cut down on.

Here are ten things I do when I’m trying to slim down:

  1. On mornings with an easy run, I do it fasted, followed by a higher protein breakfast.
  2. After breakfast, I never go more than 3 hours without eating something.
  3. Cap meal sizes at 400-600 calories, with half my plate as veggies, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 carbohydrates.
  4. Cap snacks between each meal at 150-200 calories.
  5. Eating 200-250 calories immediately after exercise, every single time, and drinking 32 oz water with it before the next major meal.
  6. Even if I am working out pretty soon before dinner, I still eat the recovery snack, making it easier to control portions at dinner.
  7. Eat a piece of fruit and a glass of milk or soymilk before bed every night.
  8. Take multi-vitamins and vitamin D, helping the body handle the stress of calorie deprivation.
  9. Never lose more than 1-2 pounds per week.
  10. Leave a Pria bar by my bed when I go to sleep in case I wake up hungry in the night; this way I don’t need to get up and go to the kitchen.

Hope this helps you out!  Even though these tips really work, they are tough to do.  The best way to ensure success is to start from a place where you are positive about your body; you already love your body, you are simply challenging yourself to be more fine-tuned than you already are.  Never go on a diet from a mental space based on self-loathing.  You will either fall off the wagon, or end up with a messed up relationship with food.  Keep emotions out of it.  You have to think like a guy. 🙂