4 Healthy Ways to Manage Your Weight for Sports

For sports enthusiasts and dedicated athletes, taking good care of your body is crucial to ensuring optimal athletic performance. This is true regardless of your preferred sport. Researchers studying the relationship between BMI and musculoskeletal injury noted that people with high fitness levels have a lower risk than those who are less fit. Similarly, those with higher body mass indexes recorded three times higher risk of musculoskeletal injury. Higher BMI scores, which can also lead to obesity, are also associated with many diseases, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and heart disease.

Aside from ensuring fitness, stamina, and endurance, having a healthy body weight can also help impact other aspects of athletic performance, from balance to physical strength, reducing the risk of injuries or accidents while playing sports. 

As such, healthy weight management is essential to maintain or improve your performance, regardless of the sport. 

Below, we'll be sharing four tips for managing your weight for sports:

Balancing weight loss and weight gain

Regarding weight management for athletes, it's important to consider the specific sport they're participating in. After all, some sports may benefit from lower weight classes, while others may rely on heavier athletes for competitive or athletic advantage. As such, it's crucial to avoid having a one-track mind approach to weight management by focusing only on eating less or avoiding certain foods, as working towards healthy weight gain can also benefit your sports performance.

For combat sports athletes, for example, experts refer to them as "weight cyclers" as they "cycle" between varying weight cycles depending on their style, opponent, and strategy. Some studies show that athletes who experience rapid weight loss during the hours before combat have a higher chance of success during the bout. At the same time, however, athletes who choose to be in the upper spectrum of their specific weight division gain a physical advantage over lighter opponents.

Joining a weight loss program

Another great way to manage your weight, depending on your sport, is to join a weight loss program. These programs help provide structure, coaching, and guidance for your weight management journey, ensuring that you aren't gaining or losing too much to affect your athletic performance. A healthy weight loss program will provide varied weight management solutions based on your lifestyle and athletic needs instead of fixed solutions focusing too much on dieting and shedding pounds as quickly as possible.

Weight loss programs also take a more holistic approach to weight management that extends to other aspects of one's daily lifestyle, including improving one's sleep quality and increasing one's physical activity. For athletes, it's important to ensure you take care of other aspects of your daily life instead of centering your life solely on your sport. Healthier nutrition and improved sleep quality have also been linked with improvements in mental state and moods, which can help improve your athletic performance.

Forming a workout routine

It's also important to keep your body physically engaged in other ways outside your preferred sport. Some may think the actual sport may be enough for your daily or weekly physical activity. However, it's essential to have a workout routine outside of your sports grind to keep yourself on your toes. In a previous post, we highlighted Cristiano Ronaldo's full-body workout to keep himself fit. Ronaldo also doesn't forget to include warm-ups to decrease the risk of injury, from laps on the pitch to stretching and cardio warm-ups.

If you're trying to maintain steady weight loss for your sport, regularly working out outside of your actual sports time is crucial to keep you fit. Full-body workouts that target all areas of your body can also help improve fitness, strength, and stamina so you're always ready for your next sports session.

Schedule weight loss for off-season

Finally, this is especially important if you regularly play your sport: remember to save more drastic weight changes — whether loss or gain — for your sport's off-season. If you know you have a match or a game in the coming week, for example, it's best to maintain your weight as much as possible instead of suddenly experimenting with the latest diet or extreme workout to shed some last-minute pounds.

Losing weight can make sports training more challenging and even hinder your performance, as weight loss may also mean loss of lean muscle mass. Modest weight loss generally won't affect your overall performance, and it's always best to ensure you're feeding yourself enough carbs and protein before and after your exercises to ensure you have enough energy to excel at your sport.

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