Have you ever decided to sign up for a competition and selected that lower weight bracket because surely you’ll be able to cut that weight in time…only to be 1-2 weeks out with a ways still to go? Then that moment of panic sinks in and you start researching all the ways you can drop 10 lbs in 5 days – even though you know doing so is only stacking the odds against you. That doesn’t have to be the story anymore! When it comes to losing weight, here are four strategies to safely lose weight when preparing for a competition.
If you know you have a competition coming up and you want/need to drop weight, the best thing you can do for your body (and your mental health!) is plan ahead. The average amount of weight to lose safely is 1-2 pounds per week. If you start intentionally putting in the work 8 weeks out, you could safely lose 16 pounds (8 weeks x 2 lbs per week = 16 lbs) in that time. Give yourself an extra few weeks to account for setbacks (*cough* like Aunt Flo coming to visit *cough*) and you’re putting yourself in an even better position to experience success! Besides, doesn’t losing 16 lbs over 8+ weeks sound way better than losing it in one weekend?? Your mind and body will thank you.
HYDRATE & FUEL Your Body
Keeping your body hydrated and fueled is one of the best ways you can prepare for a competition – AND doing so will actually help you lose weight because you’re giving your body what it needs to perform and recover through training. Drinking at least 1 gallon of water every day will help flush out your body, and eating the appropriate amount of calories and correct breakdown of macros will give you the energy you need to push yourself in training.
Create Deficits Through Exercise & Calories – But Don’t Overdo It
You can lose 2 lbs of body fat per week by burning 3,500 calories through exercising and cutting 3,500 calories from your diet – PER WEEK. This means burning 600-700 calories five days a week (um, Jiu Jitsu anyone?) and lowering your caloric intake by 500 per day will get you there. IMPORTANT: The 500 calorie deficit is taken from the amount of calories you should be consuming based on your activity level, not from the amount of calories your body burns at rest. For example, I am a 32-year-old, 5’7”, 170 lb, active female – my body burns 1800 calories at rest. Factoring in my activity level, I should be eating 2400 calories on my training days just to fuel my body and maintain my weight. To create a deficit, I would lower that amount by 500, which means I should be eating 1900 calories a day. This will fuel my body for those hard workouts and training sessions and I will still lose weight. Your calorie needs will be different based on your age, height, weight, and activity level…however, remember to subtract the 500 from your active calories and not your baseline.
Overtraining and undereating leads to injuries and poor performance because our body needs fuel and it needs rest in order to recover, Notice the recommendation is 600-700 calories burned five days a week. Why not burn 500 calories 7 days a week? Because you need to rest. Resting allows your body to reduce the inflammation from training – which will also help your weight loss.
Eat Balanced & Clean
While it’s true you can log that donut and still stay within your daily intake of 1900 calories, it’s important to be smart about the types of calories you’re consuming. Because you’re burning through fuel so quickly with training, it’s important to make sure you’re eating a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Avoid foods that may increase bloating, and if you’re worried about carbs or think they’re evil (which they’re not!) then get those nutrients from fruits and vegetables instead of processed grains and make sure to drink plenty of water.
There are so many factors that go into preparing for a competition – don’t let cutting weight become something that holds you back. Planning ahead, properly hydrating and fueling your body, creating the right deficits, and eating balanced and clean can help you safely cut weight and get out on the competition mats to do what you love – Jiu Jitsu.
Katie is a blue belt training at Elite Team Visalia in California under Professor Tom Knox. When not training, she works as a Life Fulfillment Coach helping people discover their purpose and reach their full potential, facilitates trainings to improve team dynamics, and co-hosts a podcast called Life Off the Mat with fellow teammates. You can connect with her on social media @legitkatiewilliamson and learn more about becoming your best self at www.katiewilliamsoncoaching.com