The Fall and Winter months are, for many endurance athletes, a time to give their bodies and minds a well deserved break from the routine and the intensity of training and racing.

In terms of recovery, it is an important part of the training cycle, because it allows the bodies anatomical structures and physiological systems time to recover and regenerate. It also provides our minds an opportunity to unwind the tightly wound spring that has developed as a result of months and training and racing.

With the approach of Thanksgiving, Halloween and New Years eve, all of which fall into a short 2-3 month period, our nutrition can fall to the wayside, with disasterus results.

Please keep in mind that maintaining racing weight and body composition year round, is not a realistic goal for this period either - even for the Elite level athlete.

So while you are planning your Off season, remember to spend some time adjusting your nutrition plan, to reflect the adjusted training volumes and intensities.

The formula for maintain a healthy body weight is an extremely simple one:

Weight maintenance: Calories in = Calories out
Weight gain: Calories in > Calories out

It is an extremely fine line between weight maintenance and weight gain. Even a few hundred additional calories consumed each day, over the course of a month can easily equate to the gain of a couple of additional pounds.

So how does one go about determining your daily caloric needs?

The equations below, will assist you to determine the number of calories you require per day. Exceed this number, gain weight, balance this number, or as close to it as possible, and you will stand a better chance of maintaining your weight.

BMR = 655 + (4.35 X weight in pounds) + (4.7 X height in inches) - (4.7 X age in years)

BMR = 66 + (6.23 X weight in pounds + (12.7 X height in inches) - (6.8 X age in years)

BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is the number of calories you require to keep your body functioning optimally over a 24 hour period.

It is important to remember that there is no "good" or "bad" BMR. It is a highly individual, and can be affected by factors such as age, gender, level of conditioning and body composition.

After calculating your BMR, you will need to add a few additional calories to the BMR value to account for you activity level:

  • You do not exercise regularly: BMR X 1.2
  • Exercise lightly 1 - 3 times per week: BMR X 1.375
  • Exercise moderately 3 - 5 times per week: BMR X 1.55
  • Exercise hard 6 - 7 times per week: BMR X 1.725
  • You have a physically demanding job and exercise every day or are training for a sports event or big event (e.g. marathon): BMR X 1.9
You have now predicted the number of calories you require on a daily basis.

So now you can balance the Calories In VS Calories Out equation.

Calories out can be estimated using a heart rate monitor, while calories in can be estimated by looking at food labels' calorie content for a single serving.

The number you get from the watch at the end of a workout provides you with a ball park figure, so do not take it as gospel!

You can also use resources such as those found on the Livestrong site, and using the Daily Plate app, which provides you with a search engine for almost all food types caloric content.

Taking these simple steps during the Off season, will set you up for an excellent Pre-season, without the worry of having to drop those unwanted pounds gained through the Off-season.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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