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Strategies for developing healthy body fat levels in athletes

This is an excerpt from Applied Body Composition Assessment, Second Edition, by Vivian H. Heyward and Dale R. Wagner

 

• Educate athletes and coaches about minimal body fat values (5% for males and 12-14% for females) and the health risks associated with dropping below those values. Additionally, you should provide athletes and coaches with information about "normal or healthy" body fat values (table 1.2, p. 6), as well as ranges of %BF for specific sports (table 11.5). Emphasize that "optimal" body fat differs among individual athletes.

• Recognize that small changes in body fat percentage can be due to measurement error rather than a true change in the athlete’s body composition.

• To minimize measurement error, use the same method and instrument to monitor changes in the athlete’s body composition over time.

• Encourage athletes and coaches to seek professional advice from exercise physiologists and sport nutritionists when developing exercise prescriptions and planning dietary recommendations for weight loss, weight gain, and body composition changes.

• Educate athletes, coaches, parents, and athletic trainers about eating disorders so that they will be able to recognize the signs of an eating disorder. To screen athletes for eating disorders, use the Female Athlete Screening Tool (FAST), a questionnaire validated for women athletes (McNulty et al. 2001).

 




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