True or False: If you want to lose weight, you need to go on a diet.
False: Diets do not work. If diets did work, then everyone who has ever been on a diet would be lean. Not the case. Rather than going on a diet, try to make just a few basic changes, such as 1) choose fewer processed snacks in wrappers and instead enjoy more fruit (fresh or dried) and nuts, and 2) get more sleep. Lack of sleep can contribute to not only weight gain but also reduced performance.
True or False: Eat fat, get fat.
False: While it is true that excess calories of dietary fat can easily convert into body fat, enjoying healthful fats (i.e., nuts, olive oil, avocado, salmon) is important to balance your sports diet. These healthful fats help reduce inflammation. Athletes also need dietary fat to absorb important vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Fat also fuels the muscles; small amounts of fat get stored within the muscles and can enhance stamina and endurance. Research suggests runners had more endurance when they switched from a very low fat to a moderate fat diet.
True or False: The lighter you are, the better you will perform.
True, if you are lugging around significant excess flab. But think again if you are at your genetic weight. Thin at any cost often comes with a high price tag. Research indicates elite female swimmers who restricted calories in the pursuit of “the perfect body” lost speed (but not body fat) during a 12-week training cycle, while those who ate adequately swam faster.
True or False: Female athletes who train hard and have too little body fat will stop having regular menstrual periods.
False: Lack of fuel, not lack of body fat, tends to determine if a female athlete’s body will menstruate normally. That is, many very lean female athletes do have regular menses. Although they may have very low body fat, they area able to eat enough to support both their exercise and normal body functions.
For answers to your weight and body fat questions, enjoy the chapters on how to lose weight and hav energy to exercise in:
Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook (new 5th edition)