Creating A Successful Environment for Weight Change in Athletes

Susan Lewis MS, CN

Part I: the How AND the What

While the most important factors to actually see weight/body composition change are energy and macronutrient intake, without unpacking and exploring other influences like food preference and type, daily schedule, training schedule, and eating patterns, you are missing out on major factors that determine an athlete’s success or failure. Too often practitioners - typically under the influence of time constraints - make the mistake of focusing on one or the other (or poorly addressing both), leading to interventions that are lacking. If you do not fully address the landscape of challenges faced by the athlete, how can you expect them to make meaningful progress?

Time and time again when athletes reach out to me in private practice after struggling within their program, I discover that they either don't have a good understanding of their daily nutrition needs, because our dietitian doesn't really talk about how much, or they're hyper-focused on singular strategies like nutrient timing or meal composition.

To make the best use of your and the athlete’s time, prioritize having a system in place that calculates and communicates individualized intake goals in a flexible-control, servings-based manner – that way, this information can be delivered quickly and clearly and allow you time to explore other nutritional and behavioral factors that strongly impact change. If the athlete has a clear understanding of their nutrition needs (and even better, a way to monitor them), you can spend more time translating these needs to an athlete’s day-to-day and coming up with interventions that are impactful to that particular athlete.

For example, what does their training schedule look like and how can you distribute needs to support performance within a caloric deficit? Is the athlete’s intake too high in whole foods, making a caloric surplus feel inaccessible? Is the athlete erroneously focused on “clean foods” that could lead to binging behavior or good-food/bad-food mentality in the long-term? Is the athlete’s intake too low in fiber or filled with calorie-dense foods, leading to excessive hunger during the day? Does the athlete skip meals or backload calories, making it difficult to achieve macronutrient goals or maintain energy levels? Layering in interventions that address questions like these within individualized intake goals results in a supportive environment for weight change.

Do you have a system in place that clearly and precisely communicates individualized nutrition needs to your athletes so you can focus on the questions that really matter for behavior change and success?

Fuelogics delivers individualized athlete nutrition 24/7 so you have time to focus on creating a successful environment for change.

Susan Lewis MS, CN, CISSN

Susan co-owns a private sports nutrition practice - ViTL Nutrition - in Washington state where she works with a wide range of both amateur and professional athletes. As a co-founder of Fuelogics, she is passionate about bringing the quality of individualized care to large programs and organizations. Susan is a competitive powerlifter who has won state championships and placed 12th nationally in recent years. If not surrounded by barbells, you will likely find her baking cookies or binge-watching GBBO.

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