Safe Weight Loss Guidelines Issued for Athletes

Safe weight loss should combine diet and exercise without restricting fluid or food group intake

TUESDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- Weight loss and weight maintenance for athletes and active individuals should be encouraged in a safe way, based on scientific evidence and with advice from appropriately trained health care personnel and athletic trainers, according to recommendations published in the May-June issue of the Journal of Athletic Training.

Paula Sammarone Turocy, Ed.D., from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and colleagues reviewed current research and literature to produce a series of recommendations for safe weight loss and weight maintenance practices for athletes and active individuals.

The investigators recommend that a scientifically objective body composition assessment should be used to determine the correct body weight necessary for health and optimal athletic performance. This should be repeated at regular intervals to measure progress. Weight loss strategies should include diet and exercise, and progress toward reaching the target weight should be assessed regularly. Weight changes should occur steadily, and at consistent and safe rates, without exclusion of any food groups. Athletic trainers and health professionals should be involved in dietary education and weight management processes. Dietary supplements should be treated with due caution and with consideration of the rulings of sport-governing boards. Disordered eating is not recommended; caution should be exercised to avoid dehydration and food restriction, or improper dieting, which can affect the endocrine system and suppress the immune system.

"These recommendations are built on the premise that scientific evidence supports safe and effective weight loss and weight management practices and techniques, regardless of the activity or performance goals," the authors write.

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