For those of you who consider physical fitness to be a priority to your overall health, you might think of yourself as an amateur athlete. This will look different for everyone, but might be along the lines of more than three workouts per week that vary in intensity and skill.  Workouts could range all the way from Vinyasa yoga, to strength training and cardio classes, to hiking to the top of a mountain! So if this description fits you pretty well AND you are thinking about shedding some extra pounds, here are some important tips to help you lose the less desirable fat and keep the hard earned muscle.

Weight Loss For Amateur Athletes

Build some muscle!

Have you ever heard that muscle is more metabolically active than fat? Well it’s true! Increasing your muscle mass will help your body burn more calories…even at rest! So if your workout routine has a lot of cardio in it, think about adding some strength training exercises into your weekly regime.

Fuel up after you sweat!

After an intense, 90-minute workout, your body is primed and ready to accept some healthy and nutritious fuel.  Packing a post-workout snack that contains some carbohydrates and a little protein will help your body synthesize protein and aid in muscle recovery. Everyone is different, so some personal experimentation and working with your nutritionist can really help create the plan that works for you. Schedule an appointment today with one of us to discuss ideal sources for your best performance and recovery.

Avoid Crash Diets. Aim for Balance!

Remember the children’s story about the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady wins the race! This is true for so many things in life, especially weight loss. When we want to see a smaller number on the scale, it can be tempting to cut way back on the calories. However, it’s important to give your body the proper fuel it needs to perform (not to mention that cutting way back on calories can significantly decrease our metabolism..not what we want!)  A healthier way to lose weight (i.e. fat) for the athlete is through a slower process of decreasing caloric intake by 300-500 calories daily, starting with fewer carbohydrates. Too dramatic of a decrease in calories, especially when continuing to be physically active, can lead to body stress and a resistance to weight loss.

Find your Protein Power!

Protein is a key factor in weight loss. It not only helps with muscle repair, but it also has a satiating effect on our bodies which can help us lose weight.  However more isn’t always better, and neither is a lot of protein at once! Focus on incorporating protein throughout your day, incorporating some with each breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snacks. See an example meal plan below.

130-pound female 180-pound male
PRO Needs: 60-75 grams PRO Needs: 85-100 grams
Breakfast: 2 eggs with sautéed greens and garlic = 13.5 grams

Lunch: large salad with 3/4 cup cooked white beans OR 2 oz tunafish or salmon = 13 grams

Dinner: 3 ounces salmon or chicken with roasted veggies = 20 grams

Snacks: 1 ounce cheese + small handful pumpkin seeds + optional yogurt = 11.5-21.5 grams

Total: 60-75 grams*

Breakfast: 2 eggs with 1 oz shredded cheese with leftover veggies or fruit = 25.5 grams

Lunch: large salad with 3-4 veggies w/ 3 ounces lean beef = 22 grams

Dinner: 3-4 ounces chicken breast with ¾ cup roasted vegetables = 26 grams

Snacks: small handful almonds +

optional protein powder mixed in water= 6 grams-26 grams

Total:  85-100 grams*

*Protein needs are going to vary depending on lots of factors besides weight and gender including age, height, activity level, and health or fitness goals. Talk with your nutritionist today about your ideal needs and ways to meet them!

Cut back on the sugar!

Low-carb diets can be helpful when working towards weight loss, but too little can negatively affect training and sports performance. Aim for a carb intake of about 30-40% of your daily calories. Following the example above, a 130-pound woman consuming about 1,500 calories per day would aim for 450-600 calories from carbohydrates or 112-150 grams. The 180-pound man consuming around 2000 calories would aim for 600-800 calories from carbohydrates, or 150-200 grams. To give you an idea of carbohydrate contents in whole foods see below:

  •      1 medium apple = 34 grams
  •      8 medium strawberries = 11 grams
  •      1 avocado = 3 grams
  •      1 medium stalk of broccoli = 8 grams
  •      1 medium tomato = 5 grams
  •      1 medium potato = 26 grams
  •      Leaf lettuce = 2 grams

Lastly, when thinking about carbohydrates it’s important to focus on the kind of carbohydrate you are consuming. Try to avoid added sugars by checking food labels and cut out foods that contain words ending in –ose (sucrose, fructose, glucose, etc.) as well as cane juice, dextrin, maltodextrin, barley malt, caramel, fruit juice concentrate, fruit crystals, and syrup. Try to focus on getting your carbohydrate from whole food sources that are high in fiber such as vegetables and fruit. These will give you carbohydrates, fiber, and lots of great nutrients that will aid you in your training and recovery.

Final Thoughts and Tips

While talking about dietary changes to lose weight, there are some well-researched and fundamental strategies that can help you reach your goals. These include:

  • Recording your portions
  • Drinking enough fluids (mainly water)
  • Eating slowly
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Practicing stress reduction techniques

All of these tools have been shown to help manage weight by decreasing food intake, balancing blood sugar, and reducing the body’s stress response, thereby decreasing the effect that cortisol, our stress hormone, can have on metabolism and inflammation.

Here are some resources if you really want to dig into this:

For some strength training ideas, check out:

For additional help finding out your protein needs, visit