As it relates to athletic performance, changing body composition will only offer a performance advantage if goals and methods are appropriately established. With many attractive approaches for fat loss, triathletes should be cautious of weight loss strategies that promote quick results as there is great risk for losing lean tissue, bone mass or gaining body fat, lingering fatigue, illness, injury, compromised recovery and performance decline. Additionally, a weight reduction program may trigger disordered eating habits, paving the way to an eating disorder.
Typically, low energy availability occurs when athletes consumes less than 30 calories per kilogram of fat free mass per day. For women to stay in good metabolic and hormonal health, this number is typically around 45 calories per kg of fat free mass per day.
I'd like to think that every triathlete understands that being in low energy availability will not promote gains in fitness/performance but time and time again, athletes will train through excessive fatigue from an energy deprived body and despite the red flags that the body is not in good health, athletes arrive to race day with an underfueled and undernourished body, expecting to perform well because they reached "race weight".
And we should not overlook the athlete who doubts his/her athletic race day potential because race weight was not reached. Who says that a weight will tell you how well or not well you will perform?
Unintentionally - athlete inadvertently does not meet energy needs due to poor nutrient planning, uneducated on proper fueling/hydration strategies, never learning how to eat like an athlete, busy schedule, poor meal planning, lack of appetite, lack of food availability, stress/exhaustion.
It’s pretty incredible what you can do with your body when it is healthy, injury free, properly fueled and well-nourished nourished.
If body composition is your main goal, you are chasing the wrong athletic dream.
A trained, happy, confident and healthy body will always trump a tired, stressed and energy deprived body.
Considering that extreme, obsessive and ritualistic eating may increase the risk for disordered eating patterns and eating disorders, do yourself a big favor this season and focus on what your body can do, and not on what it looks like. With the entire season ahead of you, keeping your body in good health requires a lot of work. Not eating enough will not make it work any better.