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In your off-season nutrition is more important than ever

By PCG Nutritionist Katie Barberi

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As an athlete’s season comes to end, many start to look forward to a break from the structure of training. They think about not doing workouts, not having to worry about making training fit in to their day-to-day life, at least for a little while. And understandably so, training is hard work.

In the process of thinking about their time off, many athletes also drop off when it comes to their nutrition as well. In the few months of off-season some athletes can manage to gain 10-15 LBS. (in some cases more–yes I have seen it!) due to less exercise and less nutrition control.

My number one question as a nutritionist is “why?” Why would you create more work for yourself in a few months' time? Why not use this time to take control of your nutrition and weight so when your next season starts, you can focus on getting stronger, instead of losing pounds?

Bicycle Rider

A little care in the off-season will let you be a better rider in Spring.

Take Control Today
I have been working with athletes for many years now, and I have found that I have been able to help my athletes make the most significant and beneficial changes in their weight during off-season. Once the season starts it is a lot harder to make drastic weight changes as bodily needs are so much higher considering the training load gets more intense. You may say, yes but when training gets higher you are burning more calories so you should be able to lose weight easier. My response to that is, yes that is generally the case, BUT if we did it that way then we are taking away the needed calories that will allow you to hit the numbers you are looking for going into the first races of the season.

Let me elaborate on this a little
During season your body is in “high intensity mode” you are training hard, you only get a few days off here and there but you need everything you can get to fuel your body. More calories in equates to more power and more strength. Every person has a magic number that works for them that equates to holding a steady weight, being able to put down power and still function as a normal human being when not riding. During season, I, as a nutritionist, am limited on how much I can cut that magic number back to allow for weight loss but won’t be so much of a cut back that it affects your abilities as an athlete. Because of that, it takes longer for weight to come off.  There is also the question of proper fueling before, during, and after activities. One food that works really well for one person as a pre-workout food might not work well for someone else.

The Moral of the Story
So, moral of the story: don’t let your nutrition drop during the off-season. Now is the time to make those big changes so that next season you can go harder, put down more power, and all around feel better!

Again I can make small adjustments to this during the season but I limit how much I do because I don’t want to mess with the routine that you have created for yourself. And I am not just talking about that routine in regards to eating enough. I am also talking about the mental routine that comes with that food. We all have a pre-workout, pre-competition routine. It makes us feel good, it helps calm nerves, and it is what our body knows. If you try to change something during the season it can mess with you. A superstitious person would say that creates bad luck, I say it just throws off what you and your body know. And while the change could actually be a good one, if you have one bad ride or race after that change you are more prone to never try it again, even though it actually may be the better choice, you just needed to give it a chance.

Katie Barberi is a Nutrition Consultant at Peaks Coaching Group and has her BS in Anthropology with Emphasis on Nutrition. She is a Certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner and a Certified Health Coach. She has her ISSA as a Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, and Nutrition Specialist.

Back to list of our training, coaching and nutrition essays