Let’s be honest, losing weight is simple! I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m saying it’s simple. What’s difficult is maintaining performance, not lose muscle mass, minimising fatigue, and not walking around hangry the whole time, all at the same time you’re losing weight.
So let's dive into a bit more detail on how this is achieved, shall we?
Stay close to the target
During the off-season, when no competitions are coming up, it's important to stay somewhat close to competition weight. If the weight is kept in the realm of 2kg within your weight class there is no need for losing weight, but rather cutting weight. Now, this is a very important point and one that needs to be understood correctly before moving forward. Losing weight is the process to lower one's body weight in a permanent fashion, where cutting weight is more of a temporary process. For the best results, one should stay close to competition weight during the off-season. This is for a couple of reasons, one is familiarity. Being familiar with your body weight gives a good level of predictability for everyday changes, both physically and psychologically. A second reason is strength development. When trying to increase or maintain strength caloric intake is tremendously important and staying at a caloric maintenance or a caloric surplus during the off-season will ensure there is no loss of strength, that’s if your training is on point of course. The third reason being a shorter time needed to make weight. If you're 2 kg above your competition weight, all you really need to do is a water cut, really.
Far off target and don't know what to do?
In case of an emergency and you've decided to sign up for a competition in 7 days and you’re 6kg above weight you've got two options. The first option is calling the organiser of the event and ask them to move you a weight class up, or, the second option, you cancel the event. Reducing your weight a significant amount within a short period has its' complications. It heavily impairs performance, causes mental and physical fatigue, and gives you a bad experience on the platform. So I'd highly recommended against it. If you're going to lose more than 4kg nutritional changes are your best option for success.
Recommended strategies for weight loss
There are loads of different ways of losing weight for competition. Some better than others, yet, all with the same goal in mind; losing weight. Before going into it, it's important to know what the purpose of the weight loss is. Giving that this is a weightlifting blog I'll assume that the goal is to lose fat, maintain muscle mass, maintain performance, and minimise fatigue. For this to be possible, one has to be a bit mindful of what strategy is used.
For fat loss to take place only one thing needs to be accomplished; caloric deficit. Without it, you will never lose an ounce of fat. #Simple as that! You achieve a caloric deficit by consuming fewer calories than you're expending. For the average 25-year-old, 180cm, 80 kg male training 4 - 5 times per week to maintain his weight his caloric intake has to be 2.644Kcal. Consuming anything below that amount will cause weight loss. However, a healthy recommendation for weight loss is approximately 0.5kg per week. To achieve a weight loss of 0.5kg per week a daily caloric deficit of 500kcal is required. We know this because studies have found that 3.500kcal accommodates for approximately 1 pound (0.45kg). Take that number, divide it by 7 (days in the week) and you have 500Kcal #quickmaths. Now, only losing weight isn't good enough. We have to know what that weight consists of, preferably fat. So let's get into the macros.
Fat loss and muscle maintenance
For muscle mass to be maintained and fat to be lost three things need to be in order; carbohydrate, protein, and fat intake. Although the sum of the calories from the macros will be in a caloric deficit, the ratio of those macros plays an important role in tissue composition.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy, fuelling all your activities. An importa