There are many disabled athletes out there that are prone to issues with unwanted weight and muscle loss. Research over the years has suggested that some people with physical disabilities are even more likely to be underweight than those in other population, and there are a number of key reasons for this. Firstly, someone with a physical disability might have decreased muscle mass due to lack of use, or might also battle to eat and swallow at times.
While disabled athletes are more prone to weight loss, there is no need to fear. There are many things you can do to successfully manage your weight and your muscle mass, and prevent unwanted weight loss in the long run. Remember to always work in conjunction with your doctor or dietitian for the best results!
Contributing Factors to Weight Loss
For athletes with disabilities, there are a variety of contributing factors that could lead to unwanted muscle mass loss in the long run. For example, some might suffer with a specific medical condition that affects or slows their metabolism, or they might have recently become more active, leading to natural weight loss patterns. Others might not know how to make nutritionally adequate meals to keep their bodies in the best possible health.
Those with disabilities also tend to have a naturally lower muscle mass, and many also take medications that can decrease their appetites or make regular eating challenging. Depending on the disability, some, as mentioned above, may also experience difficulty with eating and swallowing food, and others might also be dependent on carers or family members to provide their meals.
Calculating Your Ideal Weight
The first step to maintaining your body and muscle mass as a disabled athlete will be to calculate your ideal weight for your height using an index like the Body Mass Index, or BMI index. However, these indexes are not always accurate for people with disabilities, as they do not take into account reduced muscle mass in specific areas like the arms or legs.
The easiest way to determine your ideal weight correctly is to visit your doctor or dietary specialist and ask them to calculate your ideal weight range for you. They can also offer you strategies on achieving your goal weight, along with helpful meal plans and other tips on how to preserve your muscle mass.
Muscle and Weight Gain Tips
There are also a couple of suggestions that you can bear in mind if you are wanting to gain weight and muscle in a healthy way. They include:
- Eating more often. If you can, eating six or more small meals and snacks every day can help to boost your appetite, and might also be more manageable than eating three larger meals in the same time frame. You can even check out some horse racing tips online while you eat to take your mind off it if you find regular eating difficult.
- Eat more of your favorite foods. Foods that you don’t enjoy are far more likely to be left off your plate. Instead, be sure to add plenty of your preferred foods and snacks to your daily regime – as long as they are healthy of course! Make sure that your diet includes a wide range of foods as well, including fruits and vegetables wherever possible.
- Go for full fat. You will need to eat extra calories to achieve weight gain, so opt for full fat foods and add choices like grated cheese, butter and oil to your meals. For muscle preservation, you should also aim to eat quality protein with every meal.
- Exercise often. Any kind of regular physical activity will help to stimulate your appetite and keep your muscles in good shape. Exercise also helps you to gain muscle tissue, which is a plus!