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To Keep Pounds Off, Lose Slowly

July 15, 2002|Bob Condor

If you are planning to reach your own "playing weight," both the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Dietetic Assn. recommend losing no more than 2 pounds per week. Dropping pounds at a faster rate typically means you are losing water weight and breaking down muscle mass; neither outcome will boost your energy levels. Besides, pounds you lose too fast will be hard to keep off.

To lose 1 pound each week, subtract 500 calories a day by consuming less and being more active. The best food targets are saturated fats (mostly in animal fats and processed foods) and trans fats (often called partially hydrogenated fats/oils on the label). For activity, use a combination of aerobic exercise (walking, running, cycling) and resistance training (weights, bands, isometric exercises--push-ups, crunches and other moves that use your own body weight for resistance).

"Trying to do it all either through food or exercise is not the answer," said Barbara Day, a Louisville, Ky.-based sports nutritionist. "Making both changes will have the greatest impact." If you intend to lose weight to play a specific sport, Day said, there are accepted ranges of body-fat percentage according to sport (and sometimes by position). Women's ranges tend to be a bit higher than men's.

Some examples: Ideal weight for softball players is 12% to 18% body fat for women and 8% to 14% for men. Female golfers should aim for 12% to 20%, while men tend to play best at 10% to 16%. Women on a weightlifting program will be hitting optimal body-fat range at 10% to 18%, while men do the same at 5% to 12%. Remember, those are ideal weight ranges. For starters, losing a pound or two of undesired weight a week will make a dramatic difference in whatever game you choose.

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Bob Condor

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