National Athletic Trainers' Association position statement: safe weight loss and maintenance practices in sport and exercise

Paula Sammarone Turocy, Bernard F DePalma, Craig A Horswill, Kathleen M Laquale, Thomas J Martin, Arlette C Perry, Marla J Somova, Alan C Utter
Journal of Athletic Training 2011, 46 (3): 322-36

OBJECTIVE: To present athletic trainers with recommendations for safe weight loss and weight maintenance practices for athletes and active clients and to provide athletes, clients, coaches, and parents with safe guidelines that will allow athletes and clients to achieve and maintain weight and body composition goals.

BACKGROUND: Unsafe weight management practices can compromise athletic performance and negatively affect health. Athletes and clients often attempt to lose weight by not eating, limiting caloric or specific nutrients from the diet, engaging in pathogenic weight control behaviors, and restricting fluids. These people often respond to pressures of the sport or activity, coaches, peers, or parents by adopting negative body images and unsafe practices to maintain an ideal body composition for the activity. We provide athletic trainers with recommendations for safe weight loss and weight maintenance in sport and exercise. Although safe weight gain is also a concern for athletic trainers and their athletes and clients, that topic is outside the scope of this position statement.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Athletic trainers are often the source of nutrition information for athletes and clients; therefore, they must have knowledge of proper nutrition, weight management practices, and methods to change body composition. Body composition assessments should be done in the most scientifically appropriate manner possible. Reasonable and individualized weight and body composition goals should be identified by appropriately trained health care personnel (eg, athletic trainers, registered dietitians, physicians). In keeping with the American Dietetics Association (ADA) preferred nomenclature, this document uses the terms registered dietitian or dietician when referring to a food and nutrition expert who has met the academic and professional requirements specified by the ADA's Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education. In some cases, a registered nutritionist may have equivalent credentials and be the commonly used term. All weight management and exercise protocols used to achieve these goals should be safe and based on the most current evidence. Athletes, clients, parents, and coaches should be educated on how to determine safe weight and body composition so that athletes and clients more safely achieve competitive weights that will meet sport and activity requirements while also allowing them to meet their energy and nutritional needs for optimal health and performance.


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