Whether you are an athlete or just trying to be as fit and as healthy as possible managing your weight is a crucial aspect of your day to day life. Most sports have a size/weight/body type that is optimal for performance (thin distance runners, light gymnasts, or large football linemen) and being able to develop towards this will improve your overall athletic performance. In terms of health, larger amounts of muscle mass are associated with lower all cause mortality rates where higher levels of body fat is a risk factor for increased mortality rate. So whether you are an athlete or not managing your weight is critical for a healthy lifestyle.
Gaining weight and losing weight follow a lot of the same rules. At a base level everything comes down to calories in and calories out. Take in more than you burn and you will gain weight, burn more than you take it and you will lose weight. 1 pound of body weight equates to 3500 calories. Both gaining and losing weight also follow the same guidelines in terms of rate of gain/loss. 0.5-2 pounds per week is the ideal range for rate of weight gain/loss. The more over weight or under weight you are starting from will dictate how fast you can gain or lose. Someone that is significantly overweight or significantly underweight can target closer to 2 pounds/week where as someone only looking to gain/lose a small amount is better off targeting 0.5 pounds/week. 1 pound per week is the general guideline for most people.
Using the example of 1 pound per week and the 3500 calories/pound number you can now determine how to alter your diet. 3500 divided over 7 days equates to 500 calories per day. So you need to have either a 500 calorie deficit or surplus in order to meet your goal. This formula only accounts for number of calories and does not dictate nutritional content. Whether attempting gain, lose, or maintain weight you should always aim to have a well rounded diet with high nutrient dense foods (but that is a topic for another blog).
Along with determining your caloric intake, the type of exercise and physical activity you engage in will determine whether you effectively gain or lose weight. For example if you eat a 500 calorie surplus while failing to exercise you will merely gain body fat rather than lean muscle mass. When attempting to gain muscle mass strength training should be the preferred type of exercise done at a moderate to high intensity with moderate to high volume. When attempting to lose weight low intensity and high volume resistance training along with low intensity high volume aerobic training should be utilized.
This article is far from comprehensive but aims to give you an idea of what it takes to reshape your body to be healthier and high performing. If you have further questions feel free to reach out to a PSP staff member or consult a registered dietitian for the best possible information.