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Time and again, I counsel bike racers who complain about their bodies. “If only I could lose about 5 to 10 pounds, I would be such a better bike racer,” explained Jim, a lean 32 year old man who wanted to be even leaner. “As you know, with bike racing, the weight to power ratio is very important.”
Jim obsessed about every calorie he consumed, and felt frustrated by his seeming inability to not only lose weight but also to get faster. For all the training he was doing, he was not gaining any benefits. Little did he recognize he was already very lean, and the cost of trying to become even leaner yet was undereating and training with underfuel muscles. No wonder he wasn’t improving!
I recommended that Jim taking a week’s vacation from dieting and practice eating adequately—enough to fully fuel his muscles so he could train better. I encouraged him to observe the benefits of having better fueled muscles: more energy, better workouts, greater endurance.
When he returned for his follow-up visit, he said ”I didn’t lose any weight, but I sure felt better on my bike. I was able to ride faster and to keep up with the others, even on the hills.” He learned the best fueled athlete tends to be better than the perfectly-thin-but-underfueled athlete.
If you, too, believe thinner-at-any-price is better than lean-enough-and-well-fueled, think again… There is no proof the thinnest athlete is the best athlete.
Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD
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