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Kirsten Sweetland’s tips for safely achieving race weight

Carefully fasted workouts and consuming protein before bed help Kirsten Sweetland safely achieve race weight.


Making race weight seems is always a hot topic in the sport of triathlon. It’s a tricky thing for triathletes because we expend so much energy  working out that there’s often little room for improvement. You’d have to be eating a whole lot to be over-eating whilst nearing race season. That said, there are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years as an elite triathlete to help with leaning down while maintaining muscle and calorie intake. The main thing is to avoid further calorie deficit. We already burn an absurd amount of calories through training and restricting will have no long term benefit. Intense training in particular tends to burn extra calories because you continue to burn a few hours after you finished the session. I find whenever I up the intensity, especially in running, I naturally lean out a little bit. But if that isn’t quite enough there are a few tricks you can utilize.

First of all, setting a realistic goal is key. A couple pounds, depending on your weight should be all you need to cut without compromising strength and stamina. For this, I do two things. I try to do a few morning sessions a week fasted. This is usually an easy ride or run. I will ride two hours fasted and then eat a bar and continue riding or come home for breakfast. I will run up to 90 minutes fasted but have to come home for a really good meal afterwards. I would recommend starting at 30 minutes and working up from there. This uses the night plus the expenditure in the morning to deplete glycogen and burn excess fat. It is essential to replace the glycogen stores after if you want to maintain consistent training though.

The other thing I’ve learned alongside fasted morning sessions is eating a little bit of protein before bed helps as well. This will keep things revving over night and helps to maintain a strong healthy metabolism. These two things combined are what I used before Commonwealth Games to effortlessly attain my goal fat loss that was set out by our physiologist. We used a resting metabolic test combined with an arm band that calculated how many calories I was burning and it was upwards of 5,000 calories — that was excluding swimming because the arm band couldn’t get wet.

Restricting intake is definitely going to be counterproductive. Timing is key. Have your treats during or right after a hard session. Try a fasted morning session. Fiddle around with the timing of your intake and see what works best for you.