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Maintaining Weight During Football Season

I start football in a week and I always lose weight during the season. How should I train and how should I eat to keep all of my size during the season?

I also play football in college and I promise you are not alone. My senior season I lost 10 pounds in just August. We both know it isn’t easy to repetitively lift every week with practices and games, but my advice to you is if your team doesn’t workout 2-3 days a week along with practice then you need to make sure you find a good in season workout to follow. There are plenty on this site as well as other sites that you could do.

Next, through camp, practice, and games you are losing a lot of water weight. This is what I attribute 90% of my weight loss to. So, based on your practice schedule I would make sure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after practice. A good rule of thumb that I learned last year (my freshmen year) playing was to weigh yourself before practice in just shorts then weigh after practice in the same thing. Then make sure you drink enough water after practice to rehydrate yourself. If you are losing a lot of weight (roughly 5+ pounds) then you need to be drinking more during practice. Also, if you’re not gaining your weight back before the next day talk to your athletic trainer about electrolyte supplements like heat guard etc… Also, the weekends after games are an important hydration time. For example, I played O and D the first game of the season with little breaks and lost ten pounds in ONE game. By Monday i had only gained 5 back - this was obviously me being to stupid to drink enough Saturday and Sunday. I would think 100-150 oz of water a day should be enough. – less if you’re a smaller guy.

Last, the BEST food i have found for putting on weight during season, off season, or whenever is brown rice. I promise if you eat 2-4 cups a day of rice and drink then you won’t lose weight. Heck you might even get stronger if you do all three. My favorite thing to do was bring 2 cups of brown, white, or jasmine rice to school with me and eat it with lunch then for dinner eat 2 cups of another kind.

3 easy steps-

  1. Find a good 2-3 day in season workout to maintain muscle mass and strength
  2. Drink loads of water maybe with added electrolytes
  3. 2-4 Cups of rice per day

[quote]Mgragg wrote:
3 easy steps-

  1. Find a good 2-3 day in season workout to maintain muscle mass and strength
  2. Drink loads of water maybe with added electrolytes
  3. 2-4 Cups of rice per day[/quote]

Solid advice. To this, I’d merely add

  1. Don’t be a dumbass college kid and skip breakfast because you’re lazy and sleeping in. I couldn’t believe how many kids slept through breakfast and didn’t eat anything til noon. Make sure you eat something decent every morning, preferably eggs and bacon if you can get it, and whatever else you can stomach. Find some good snacks to carry around in between classes, beef jerky, protein bars, etc.

  2. Make sure you eat a large helping of meat and some vegetables every night after practice. You need to get a good solid meal in you…whether that’s from the school dining hall, another on-campus eatery, or going and cooking at home if you live in a house. But don’t go home and skimp on your dinner because you’re tired or you’ve got homework to do. EAT SOMETHING.

OP, let us know if you need a workout suggestion (if your school doesn’t provide a decent program)

Without knowing what level you’re playing at or what mandatory measures your team takes to prevent weight loss during the season I’ll offer some anecdotal advice.

When I was in college (1999-2002) coaches were a lot less sophisticated with nutrition, even at the D1-AA level. But what they lacked in sophistication they made up for by being control freaks. We had breakfast check every single weekday of the entire school year where they would actually watch you eat. Coaches would (arbitrarily) pick a weight that they wanted you to play at and make sure you got there. We had fat linemen on egg-white and dry toast diets and others being force-fed doughnuts and bagels. My team recruited for height because height is the only thing you can’t “teach”. So they’d turn 6’5" 220lb high school tight ends into 320lb tackles year in and year out. Because 300 pounders don’t grow on trees coming out of high school.

I played passing-down linebacker and backup safety. I showed up at camp freshman year at 6’2" 220. By the end of the season I was down to 210, so not too bad. But the real challenge came in the offseason, because during the offseason they have no incentive to take it easy on you. In-season training involves walk-throughs and positional meetings. Off-season training involves conditioning – every single day until you can’t walk anymore. Because unlike the season, they don’t need to let you recover for gameday. You just eat, lift, run and sleep (and occasionally study and go to class).

So I showed up at 220 and ended the season at 210. By the end of winter break I was back up to 220. But by the end of the school year I was down to 195, having lost nearly all of my weight from muscle. So the next year I got my nutrition in order.

A few rules:

  1. Have a shake ready to go for immediately after every lift, run and practice. My shakes included 1 pint glass of blueberries, 2 scoops of vanilla whey, 2 tablespoons of nut butter, and 1 cup of egg whites. If you practice first, then lift immediately afterwards, drink one after practice and another one after the lift. It’s a lot of liquid. Deal with it. If the egg whites upset your stomach, drop them and add a scoop of casein instead.

  2. Shoot for your bodyweight in protein and double your bodyweight in carbs.

  3. Don’t do anything, ever, in a fasted state. If you practice, run or lift first thing in the AM either eat breakfast or drink one the the shakes beforehand.

  4. Go by feel. Weigh yourself every day and also every week. The daily weigh-in will give you an idea of how hydrated you are and will fluctuate wildly so don’t get alarmed - just drink more water and gatorade. The weekly weigh ins should be at a time (Sunday AM?) that you will always be better rested and hydrated. If your weekly weight is goes down, up your carbs. If your weekly weight goes up (unlikely) drop the carbs a little. 2x bodyweight worked for me but might not be enough for you.

  5. The only thing I guarantee is that you will not gain muscle during the season. So if your weekly scale weight goes up, rest assured you’re not getting more jacked. You might’ve overshot your daily calories. But again, shoot high and in the unlikely event you’re eating too much you can always scale back down. Calories = energy so it’s not just about weight, but the ability to perform in practices and games.

A lot of good advice here from more qualified people who have actually competed at the college level. I’ll just say there potential in-season program in contained in Defranco’s WS4SB III pdf which is freely available online. It has a sample program as well as a pretty good write up on what an in season training program should contain. So, even if you have a training program you will be following it might be worth reading that section.

Couple more things to add:

A good college football program won’t allow you to lose [a lot of] weight during the season. We had to weigh in before and after each practice during the season and once per week in the offseason. If they didn’t like what the scale said they would “fix it” by watching you eat meals. They wouldn’t tell you specifically what to eat (per se) but they’d say “right now you weigh 200. By next week you WILL weigh 210”.

But believe me the opposite is worse. After my freshman year we went from a 3-4 defense to an attacking, zone-blitzing, gap-control 4-3. We had 320 pound nose guards who were told they had to get down to 265 to play in that system. It was like making weight for wrestling. So if your choice is either overeating, or doing mandatory cardio after practices and dieting down you know which one is better…