Friday, September 14, 2012

Endurance Athletes & Racing Weight

Written by Catherine Grace Cleveland

In my region in WNY state cycling has taken off in the last 5 years. Bike clubs are popping up with members ranging from casual hybrid riders to full blown racers on newly sponsored teams. There's a lot more running races and triathlons every year also.

It's great to see so many people making an effort towards a healthier lifestyle.  There still is a short coming with these various athletes on nutrition and how it effects their performance (at all levels). One of the biggest mistakes is that we reward ourselves with a job well done with unhealthy food like pizza, wings, beer, fries and packaged processed foods like cookies and ice cream. What's the problem with this? I worked hard, I deserve a reward.

Here's the problem, the average weight loss from exercising without changing your diet is 10 pounds. Some people even gain weight after they start exercising. They call it muscle weight. It's not!

Giving yourself permission to eat junk food as a reward is not only limiting your ability to lose weight but forces your body to go into disease fighting mode (from eating disease promoting foods such as animal fats and proteins) instead of focusing on recovery mode so that your fitness level increases.  When you don't take your nutrition seriously you fitness level will plateau no matter how hard you train.

When you are racing in endurance sports carrying any extra weight can be what keeps you from being your athletic best.  When Lance Armstrong was still a triathlete and decided to switch to just road racing he was told that he wouldn't cut it because he was carrying to much mass. He lost the weight.

Horse race handicappers pay attention to the weight that a horse has to carry. The odds will change if the horse is carrying as little a 3 pounds overweight in 6 furlongs (1/2 mile). Turf racing and timber horses (racing over fences) also have weight categories where the jockey and his gear have to be within a certain range to race in a particular class. This would be the equivalent to having weight classes for bike racing rather than age classes.

A friend of mine who is a good cyclist had been diagnosed with diabetes. To look at her, you wouldn't consider her overweight. She came to me to help her get her nutrition on track, as a result of eating a nutritionally dense, plant-based diet, she got her diabetes under control, lost 32 pounds and because of her low body fat there are not to many men that can beat her up a long climb on a road bike.

A couple of years ago my boyfriend bought a new Trek Madone (too expensive) bike.
This bike is a top of the line custom light weight bike. When he was picking out his water bottle brackets he was considering buying the $75. carbon fiber ones to save him a few ounces of weight. I said (in front of the salesman): Are you kidding me? Why don't you save yourself the money and lose 20 pounds? That ought-a be worth about $1500 worth off water bottle brackets. He bought the plastic ones for $7.

So no matter what your athletic level is, maybe it's time take the next step: lose a few pounds, eat a nutritionally dense, low fat non-animal diet or that skinny dude will beat your (relatively) fat ass up the hill every time!

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