Improving Body Composition in the Off Season

Although there are a lot of athletes still racing late season events, there are a large number of athletes just starting to ramp up their planning and preparation training for 2014. I’ve had several conversation with several athletes who are looking to lose some body fat, and as a result weight. This is a great time to work on improving your body composition because levels of hunger are not as high, your training volume is not as crazy as it will be in your build, and you have more time to get into the habit of preparing healthier nutrient dense foods. The only caveat is that if you live in the Midwest, we are starting to see more and more time spent inside. Wah, wah.

So how can I do it?

Here are a few tips and tricks you can use:

1. Coconut Oil – this is a tip I actually got from Craig Upton, so I can’t take full responsibility but it has worked for me. In the morning put a little bit of coconut oil either in your coffee/tea or on a gluten free piece of toast/cracker. I’m talking 1 teaspoon not a whole giant massive glob. Yes you’re getting a dense supply of calories through the fat, but the fat will also help you feel fuller longer. Also, repeat the same thing before you eat lunch you will find you get fuller faster and therefore not eat as much.

2. Lunches = veggie loading- Lots of veggies in a salad works pretty well. The only bad part? Lemon juice, a little salt and pepper can be your dressing. I’m personally not a fan of ‘light’ dressings. They are filled with crap ingredients. You’re better off with vinegar and olive oil if you’re dying for some more flavor. Make sure you also get a good source of protein. Tuna fish, hemp seed, nuts, lean turkey/chicken, black beans, etc.

3. Snacking – if you get hungry stay away from anything that comes in a bag, box, or wrapper. You’re best off with fresh fruit, veggies, a handful of nuts, or a cup of hot tea with a tiny bit of honey in it. TINY bit!

4. Coffee, Tea, Bubbly Drinks – While there’s a lot of different research on whether coffee is really good or bad for you, in moderation it’s probably not going to throw you into a health tailspin. Tea has been shown to have a ton of healthy properties so if you’re looking for a beverage that has no calories and fills you up look to caffeine free tea (caffeinated tea is actually a good play 30-45 minutes before a workout, heads up). Sparkling water, club soda, or other low calorie bubbly drinks will also make you feel fuller. They can cause bloating and burping but if you’re okay with that, then you can try them 🙂 OH side note! The other great thing about drinking something warm around 2:00 pm in the afternoon, is that I have found it actually warms my body and wakes me up keeping me from the afternoon snoozie feeling.

5. Prep your week – I am AWFUL at this. I always forget to get to the grocery before Sunday night so normally I am scrambling to get anything set up for the week. BUT, if you can get into the habit of going to the grocery for your lunches/snacks on Sunday and pack them before you get to sleep Sunday night you’ll be more likely to eat the healthy option than reach for a bag of some artificial crap from the vending machine!

6. Training Nutrition- make sure if you have a longer training session that you are fueling correctly (hydration in the bottle, food in the pocket!!!) so you’re not getting off of the bike starved. There are a variety of scientists who have argued that training with zero calories will engage your bodies ability to burn fat. What it actually does is increase the amount of stress on the body and if you’re not following their protocols exactly the way they are designed and under supervision of a professional you’ll find you get fatigued and drained 2 weeks into your training and not understand why. So eat while training, diet afterwards.

7. RECOVER – Immediately upon finishing your sessions get some Acute Recovery from in you OR if you don’t use that product get 20-30g of protein in immediately. Then eat a healthy nutrient dense meal within another 90 minutes of that. If that is not possible do another shake. This tells the body “let’s stop the catabolic process (breaking down of muscle/exercising) and rebuild now.” If that signal doesn’t happen you’ll notice you start your next workout in the hole. And we don’t like being in holes. They are a pain in the A$$ to get out of. Pardon me.

Hopefully these give you a starting place to make a few small tweaks to your daily routine, exercise routine, and nutrition plan so you can see a positive change in your body composition. Remember, and this is a difficult one for me too, that slower weight loss is OK. Living in a world of instant gratification it’s hard to accept that to see a significant change you’ll have to be patient and let it take a few months.

Happy training!