Come competition time, the aim for all competitors is to become as lean as possible, while maintaining a hard physique. Although achieving this type of appearance should be relatively easy, there is one factor that often negates progress in even the most diligent: a slow metabolism.
A slow metabolism is the one thing a competitor does not want to be cursed with, when the main goal is to lose body fat.
Maintain a Healthy Weight Off Season.
The metabolism is adversely affected when one consumes a large amount of food for a certain period of time. In fact, the term yo-yo dieting stems from many peoples attempts to lose weight, while reverting to bad eating habits, when they should be sticking to a more sensible diet.
The body will simply adapt to maintaining a low metabolic rate if it has to continually adjust to a sharp decline in calories for a certain period of time, followed by engorgement for another period of time. This has obvious implications when it comes to losing weight during competition season. Attempting to lose fat at a rapid rate can also result in losses in protein, and loss of muscle protein means a decrease in metabolism. In my opinion, it is very important to keep a high protein diet, along with supplements like glutamine and branched chain amino acids during dieting to avoid muscle loss.
Another problem with drastic weight loss, is an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL). LPL is a fat storing enzyme that increases when calories are dropped at a significant rate. When your body produces too much LPL and you start to pile on the fat, you will possibly need to diet harder to lose this fat after, which may further increase LPL and making fat loss next to impossible.
Your best bet is to maintain a sensible eating plan during off-season, so when pre-contest rolls around, calories do not have to be severely restricted to lose weight.
Eat Smaller Meals
Eating smaller meals more frequently helps to keep the metabolic rate constantly heightened, and helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. A constantly stimulated metabolism means fat-burning over a longer period of time.
Stabilized blood sugar prevents the hypoglycemia that occurs when one eats a huge meal and feels tired and lethargic soon afterward, due to low glucose levels to the brain. The body is more likely to store fat when in a hypoglycemic state, due to spiked insulin levels.
Competitors serious about fat loss should engage in aerobic activity both off-season and pre-contest, to keep the metabolism high. Aerobics, or what we all like to call cardio, has a great effect on fat-loss. Cardio stimulates the metabolism, metabolizes fat directly as a fuel source, and burns carbohydrates. In turn, this will all help to lower the fat-storing potential of these macronutrients.
Cardio can however deplete the body of protein if done too often or for too long. Therefore, if you feel like you are losing muscle pre-contest, it might be a good idea to cut back on cardio to the point where fat, rather than muscle, is being utilized. Depending on the individual, cardio sessions 4-5 times per week for 40-minutes should be sufficient.
Train with weights
This should be an easy one for competitors: training with weights. Weight training builds muscle and muscle stimulates the metabolism to a significant degree. Individuals with more muscle tend to have more efficient metabolisms from the fat-burning effect that comes along with muscle.
Protein plays a very important role in the fat burning process. Protein stimulates the metabolism far more efficiently than either carbohydrates or fat, due to the energy demands of amino acids.
In fact, studies show that eating a meal high in protein will stimulate the metabolism by as much as 30%, as opposed to fat or carbohydrates which increase it by around 4%. Protein will heighten the metabolic rate for around 12-hours after eating.
Eating sufficient protein shouldn’t be a problem for most competitors, as it is a fundamental requirement in terms of muscle building, and should be an established part of their nutritional plan.
Always eat breakfast
Breakfast has always been the most important meal of the day to most of us, and for good reason: it kick starts the metabolism and helps to negate the possibility of “indulging” later in the day.
Skipping breakfast will keep the body in starvation mode because it has essentially been fasting over an 8 hour sleeping period. When starved for too long, what can happen is the body will need to hang on to every available calorie, and fat loss will be the last thing to occur.
In conclusion, achieving your best body depends on a number of factors, including a functioning metabolism. A slow metabolism can decrease anyone’s chances of losing sufficient body-fat come competition time.
Rather than blaming a slow metabolism on genetic factors, follow these guidelines as best as possible, lose fat, look and feel great!