Reverse your December weight gain with a January Racing Weight quick start.
There are two kinds of triathletes: Those who gain little or no weight in the off-season and those who gain several pounds or more. Six-time Ironman champion Dave Scott belongs to the former category. He maintains the same super-clean diet year-round like some kind of robot that is impervious to all temptation. Two-time Ironman champion Chris McCormack represents the second kind. Macca typically comes out of his off-season break weighing 10 pounds more than he does on the start line of the Ironman World Championship in Kona.
You see lots of articles about how to avoid weight gain at this time of year by eating rice cakes for Thanksgiving dinner and bowls of steam on Christmas. I never read them. I don’t see anything wrong with going a bit crazy with one’s diet in December, knowingly putting on a bit of flab, and then shedding it after the New Year when it’s time to get serious about preparing for the next triathlon season. In fact, unless you’re Dave Scott, I think that a month of almost-anything-goes eating makes it easier to eat strictly through the other 11 months of the year. Eleven months of clean eating cause a kind of psychological pressure to build; holiday feasting releases that pressure.
This system only works if it is, in fact, systematic. I recommend that triathletes make their winter weight fluctuations systematic by imposing an 8-percent rule on themselves and by executing a formal “Racing Weight quick start” in the New Year. The 8-percent rule states that at no time during the year is a triathlete allowed to tip the scales at more than 8 percent above his or her ideal racing weight. So if your perfect triathlon competition weight is 150 lbs, you cannot weight more than 162 pounds immediately after Thanksgiving dinner. The 8-percent rule keeps one from completely letting himself or herself go.
A Racing Weight quick start is a four- to eight-week period of programmatic weight loss that immediately follows the off-season break and precedes the start of race-focused training. In a quick start you pursue weight loss more aggressively than you can during a major build-up to racing, when you need to ensure that your body is always well fueled for performance and recovery. The idea is to literally get a quick start on reversing your off-season weight gain and returning to your ideal racing weight.
There are five components of the quick start system that is presented in full, hand-holding detail in my Racing Weight Quick Start Guide: