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How An Overweight Athlete Should Diet

Anyone who’s followed sports has heard about or encountered an athlete who gained a tremendous amount of weight in the offseason. Heck, some pros have even gotten heavier during the season. Since there’s nothing worse than a point guard getting winded before tip-off on opening night, coaches like to focus on training year-round.

While there’s no denying that the head coach may have ulterior motives where your conditioning is concerned, it’s not just about being ready to win right away. Here’s the truth: overweight athletes are at significantly higher risk of getting injured than their less hefty counterparts. However, a player can’t diet like a regular person without repercussions. If you want to diet as an athlete, then you’ll have to follow a few guidelines.

1. Just Say “No” to Fad Diets

The 7-day diet, the Atkins diet, the grapefruit diet, and the acai berry diet. Why do all these trendy diets keep gathering steam? At the end of the day, it’s because they’ve helped a lot of people slim down quickly. That being said, fad dieting is risky under the best of circumstances and is an especially bad idea for an athlete.

Probably the biggest issue is that they’re not sustainable. Sure you might lose weight successfully, but you’ll be doing so at the expense of your proper nutritional intake. This can result in significantly reduced energy as well as health risks. No athlete wants to deal with that.

2. Focus on Fiber

It may sound cliché, but fiber is an absolute must in an athlete’s diet. It’ll make you feel fuller which in turn will make it easier to avoid junk food. While fiber has traditionally been associated with the aiding of the digestive system, it’s also very useful for a player who wants to shed a few pounds safely. First, it helps keeps your blood sugar on an even keel. The second benefit of fiber is that it naturally burns calories.

3. Be Strategic With Your Protein

As an active individual, you’ve probably heard about the advantages of a protein-rich diet. Since it has to be done, what’s wrong with taking all your proteins at once? Honestly speaking, your body can make maximize its nutrients if you take protein throughout the day. Having a peanut butter sandwich after you work out, for example, can aid in the repair and build-up of muscle. That’s an opportunity that might not be available if all your protein comes from breakfast.

4. Put Down the Nutritional Drinks

All-in-one breakfast drinks are increasingly popular for on-the-go athletes. It’s actually not just sports-oriented people who are taking them. Everyone from students to working professionals has probably taken a breakfast shake on a busy morning at least once. Despite what the labels say, however, many people don’t realize is that you’re almost always better off getting your nutrients “straight from the source”. The next time you find yourself choosing between apple juice and strawberry-flavored shakes, consider grabbing an apple or a bowl of strawberries instead.

5. Don’t Try to Lose Everything at Once

On the surface of things, it looks like an overweight athlete’s main focus is to lose weight and lose it quickly. The key, so the wisdom goes, is to count your calories all the way to your goal. For athletes especially, this is bad advice. By slimming down indiscriminately, you’ll lose the explosiveness and strength you need to perform. You need those muscles. Rapid weight loss will just exacerbate the problem

6. Eat Breakfast

Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain their weight loss. Explanations have ranged from the feeling of increased fullness to the extra boost of energy it provides, but in any case, one thing’s perfectly clear: breakfast will help you reach your ideal body weight. While taking care to avoid processed foods and sugars, the first meal of the day’s an excellent chance to start getting ahead on your daily intake.

7. Drink Lots of Water

This one should be obvious, but drinking water’s another essential component of an athlete’s diet. First of all, the last thing you want is to be fainting from dehydration as your sprint on a fast break. Secondly, water can be instrumental to your weight loss goals because you’ll likely find yourself reducing your calorie intake. For all the flack calorie-counting strategies have gotten so far, it’s still something to watch for.

Getting to your ideal weight as an athlete isn’t rocket science. However, it does require a mental shift from “dropping those pounds” to “trimming down without losing muscle”. To that end, athletes should avoid fad dieting, drink water, take protein throughout the day, lose weight responsibly, eat breakfast, and focus on proper foods. Try it out and see how much of a difference it makes

Ed B Kravitz