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Get Ahead of the Competition: Off Season Nutrition Planning

By Amanda Turner MS, RD, CSSD | September 11, 2015

All too often I have athletes come to me 2-4 weeks before a major event telling me that they want to put on muscle, lose fat or improve their GI symptoms before their next event. While we can start the process of altering nutrition prior to the event, it is not likely to achieve the alterations at maximum within that time frame. Gaining muscle and losing fat takes time, especially if we focus on doing just those things. Gaining or losing too quickly will cause the wrong type of tissue to increase (i.e. fat) or wrong type to be lost (i.e. muscle). Give yourself plenty of time to achieve these changes and maximize your results.

What is optimal timing to see results with nutrition alterations? If you’re looking for small changes, a few pounds of tissue change, 6-8 weeks is sufficient. The larger the change you are trying to achieve, the more time you will need to achieve those results, especially if it involves losing a significant amount of fat and also gaining muscle.

In addition to body composition changes, off season is really a good time to play around with different foods in relation to how they affect you during training. If you suffer from GI distress, a Registered Dietitian can fine tune your fueling strategy (both food and fluids) to help minimize these problems. Again, these things take time and sometimes multiple diet iterations to perfect, so start in the off season so you are well prepared when training season comes around!