Taking time off to recover, see friends and make the most of Sunday lie-ins is just as important as training. However, less activity means it's easy to gain weight but there's no need to panic.
Putting on a few pounds during the off-season isn't going to have a lasting effect and some say that athletes that hold their race weight all year long are actually more prone to illness and injury. A low weight means that their immune systems are under pressure and they don’t have enough reserves to replenish energy or rebuild their body.
A few months at a heavier weight can work wonders for your overall health and wellbeing, making you stronger for the next season. But we’re talking pounds, not suddenly adding loads of kilograms to your fit and active frame!
So what’s the best way to manage your weight in the off-season? HIGH5 are well versed in keeping the pros fighting fit, all year long. They’ve come up with the best strategies to manage your weight when you’re training less.
Work out your happy weight
Finding a weight that you’re happy with in the off-season depends on your goals and your metabolism.
Have you achieved your target race weight this year or did you struggle to get there? Do you find it hard work to lose weight or do the pounds drop off you when you start training seriously?
It’s all about finding that happy equilibrium during the off-season. If you struggle with your weight throughout the year then this isn’t a time to relax too much. Instead, focus on maintaining your current weight – sorry!
However, if you can drop your weight quickly when your training volume goes up, then putting on 2-3kg is not a bad thing. In fact, it could be beneficial and keep you free from illness. Just don't do a Jan Ulrich (German pro rider) and put on 10kg!
Reduce your calories
Off-season often means less exercise and maybe a few extra drinks on Friday night. Even though we reduce our training volume, we still eat as if we’re training full-on.
So, we’re not only consuming more calories but we’re also burning less and that automatically means weight gain.
To keep your weight in check, we need to keep an eye on our calories.
There are many calorie-reduced food products available but the best substitute for a high-calorie diet is good old fashioned fruit and vegetables. Low in calories but high in fibre, these are the “superfoods” that everyone can afford. Don’t ignore the basics just because they’re not in a snazzy packet! Seasonal fruit and vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals, keeping you healthy.
Also, don’t forget that drinks can be a major source of calories. Alcohol is the biggest culprit but even run-of-the-mill sugary soft drinks can make a significant dent in your calorie intake allowance.
We’d suggest that you choose water or a calorie-free alternative instead. If you want a bit of flavour, follow our lead - we have HIGH5 ZERO sitting on our office desks all year round. In the off-season, it’s a great calorie-free alternative to sugary drinks and the added Vitamin C helps fight tiredness and contributes to the normal function of the immune system.
ZERO Protect have added Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Electrolytes, Sodium, Potassium and Folic Acid nutrients for an even bigger immune system boost.
Eat plenty of quality protein
Why do we take an off-season? One of the main reasons is that our body needs to recover to be ready for more hard months of training. It’s often both a mental break and a physical break, so smart food choices are important.
Protein is not only important for growing your muscles but also maintaining your hard-earned muscle mass.
Focus on good quality protein sources - lean meats and seafood are excellent choices.
Protein has the added benefit that you’ll feel less hungry throughout the day so you’ll find it easier to keep your calorie count down.
That said, even in the off-season you need a calorie-hit post-training. You should include a protein shake after your training sessions to give your body essential carbohydrates plus 18g of whey protein isolate. Trust us - your muscles will thank you for it.
Don't skimp on quality carbs
Carbs often get a lot of negative press. But we endurance athletes know that you still need carbs to fuel your training sessions and gym workouts. That’s no different in the off-season!
You just need fewer of them, especially the fast-burning variety like refined bread and white rice. Your body will blast through these and you’ll end up hungry soon after. This makes it even harder to keep your calories down.
The amount of carbohydrate in your diet is less important than the type of carbohydrate in your diet – this is your key to controlling hunger and keeping your cravings in check.
Sensible carbs will keep you feeling full, so you won’t want to eat your own arm five minutes later.
Opt for sweet potatoes, whole-grain bread and wild rice. If you need a strategic snack during the day to get you through to the next meal then an energy bar is a tasty choice as it has a great mix of fruits and oats so that you get the same slow release of carbs that you do from whole grains.
Off-season is an opportunity
The off-season is the perfect time to get your diet right and to experiment with new food choices.
Food isn’t something to be afraid of and if anybody tries to tell you that enjoying food will take you further from your goals, they’re wrong. Food is your ally on your quest to reach peak fitness. In fact, if you nail a well-balanced diet then you might be able to avoid the need to diet in the first place.
Go for a better balance of foods and take the opportunity to try new foods. Set goals: why not focus on "green" foods to boost your immune system? Kale, avocado, green tea, spinach and broccoli are filled with lots of vitamins and minerals, yet low in calories.
This is also a good time to try new things if you’ve never tried sports nutrition or weren’t happy with your nutrition this year. The HIGH5 trial bundle includes a wide selection of products and flavours for you to try.
With all of this in place, you’re well set to use the off-season for some well-deserved R&R!
i yunmai - Scales
Toa Heftiba- Salmon
Eiliv-Sonas Aceron - Pasta
Dan Gold - Vegetables