In part 2 of this series of nutritional blogs we look at how we can apply what was discussed in PART 1 and work out your macros to make sure that you are hitting your weight targets without reducing your performance. If you are a Heavyweight athlete you can click HERE to skip to the heavyweight section.

The Lightweight Rower

If you’re a lightweight rower and need to make weight for an event (70 - 72.5kg), you’re going to be in a calorie deficit. When in a calorie deficit, you rarely improve performance but instead lower performance as you’re not fuelling your body enough.
So how do you get around this?

You need to make sure your protein intake is at an optimal level to maintain as much muscle mass as possible when losing weight. Making the weight loss predominantly fat loss – therefore maintaining better performance. To do this, you need to consider two things –

  1. How many calories you should be on, and how long you should diet for
  2. Macronutrient breakdown of those calories for optimal performance

Firstly, to figure out your calorific needs, you need to answer a few questions:

  1. How much do you workout (honestly)
  2. Sedentary – you do nothing
  3. Moderately active: you train 2 to 3 times per week weight training or intense aerobics
  4. Highly Active: train 4-6 times per week weight training or intense aerobics
  5. Sporting Highly active: Train 4-6 times a week weight training or intense aerobics with a highly active job or are a sportsman/woman training intensely every day.
  6. What Macronutrient breakdown works best for you
  7. How long do you have to make weight?

The reason you need number 1 is to determine your calorie needs to lose weight. To determine this, you should find your bodyweight in lbs (kg x 2.2), and times it by the number that correlates with your activity levels:

11 = Sedentary

12 = Moderately active

13 = Highly active

14 = Sports highly active

For example, a 75kg male elite rower, training 6 days per week, 2 x per day with both gym and rowing should do = 75 x 2.2 = 165 Then, 165 x 14 = 2310. Therefore 2310 (or thereabouts) is your calorie needs for weight loss. You then need to break this down into macronutrient needs.

Protein needs:

There has been a recommendation of 0.8g per kg of bodyweight for protein, however this is MASSIVELY outdated. Recent literature suggests a largely greater amount to maintain muscle mass during a calorie deficit. These new recommendations suggest 1.2g-2.2g per kg of bodyweight for athletic populations – that’s you people that row consistently, and gym hard. 3-6 times per week.

The elite of you, who really do train a lot, and are looking to make the most anatomical adaptations in terms of performance is to really ramp that up to 2.3-3.1g per kg of FAT FREE MASS (bodyweight – weight of fat = a 75kg man with 14% body fat has 10.5kg of fat, therefore fat free mass is 64.5kg).

Therefore – a 75kg rower, training at a moderate – high level should be aiming for approximately 90 – 165g of protein = 360 – 660 calories of the 2310 aim.

An elite level rower should be aiming at approximately 148 – 200g of protein = 592 – 800 calories of the 2310 aim.


Athletic populations should consume more dietary fats than the average person, this is in the range of 30-50%. Fats aid in satiety, ensures there are suitable amounts of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients within the body. Therefore, the 75kg rower, trying to make weight would require approximately 77 – 128g of Fat, which is equal to 693 – 1155 calories. This is for both average athletic populations (more towards 30%) and an elite (more towards 50%).


This is the self-explanatory part. We know that our aim should be approximately 2310 calories, if we assume you’re an elite athlete, then the 75kg rower trying to make weight will be on 592-800 calories from protein and 693 – 1155 from fats, equalling 1285 – 1955 calories leaving 355 – 1025 calories for the carbohydrates. We know carbohydrates are 4 calories per gram, so we can deduce we are allowed: 89 – 256g carbs.

Maintaining a high performance in a deficit

The thing about performance is that higher carbohydrate intake usually makes a better performance. Therefore, finding the balance is key! So how can you keep performance high, while carbohydrates and calories are potentially restricted? Carbohydrate cycling! This is a way that you can keep calories low for the most part of the week, then increase calories and carbohydrates to utilise the increase in hormonal output they achieve on certain days, to then go back into a deficit. The simple way to do this is to increase calories to your maintenance level (approximately 300-500 calories above your deficit) by introducing about 75-125g of carbohydrates extra one or two days a week. This will ensure the hormones and performance continues at a high level, while weight loss continues.

That is how you make weight and keep your performance levels high during your journey.


July 11, 2016 — Tim Brownstone

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