Here is NATA's list of seven basic recommendations for safe weight loss and management practice:
- 1.) A body-composition assessment, which is a scientific and objective method of estimating lean body mass and fat mass, should be used to determine a body weight consistent with safety, good health and optimal performance in weight-classification sports. This process takes no longer than 10 minutes, Sammarone Turocy says, and should be administered by a trained individual.
2.) Progress toward reaching the target weight based on body-composition tests should be assessed at regular intervals by repeating the tests.
3.) Weight gain or loss should not occur at excessive rates; it should be steady and at a consistent and safe rate (one or two pounds per week for weight reduction). Additionally, weight loss should not exceed 1.5 percent of body weight per week.
4.) Both diet and exercise should be used as part of the strategy to change body weight. Weight management should follow the training plans and goals of athletes and other physically active individuals.
5.) Enough calories taken in from all food groups should occur during weight change. Metabolism and energy needs for physical activity must be considered in developing the diet.
6.) Education on safe dietary and weight-management practices should be conducted on a regular and planned basis, and the involvement of trained nutrition, health and weight-management experts such as athletic trainers or other health professionals is highly recommended. Coaches, peers and family members should not provide information or participate in diet, body-composition or weight-management practices, and they should refrain from making comments about them. "Coaches can be supportive, but it is their job to bring in someone else to provide the education," Sammarone Turocy says, adding that certified athletic trainers and local pediatric or orthopedic physicians are ideal for that task.
7.) Athletes should be cautious with the use of dietary supplements and ergogenic aids for weight management, or any techniques that lead to rapidly changing body weight through unsubstantiated methods of weight reduction. Consideration of a sport's governing body's ruling on such supplements must be given. (The NATA currently is working on a position statement regarding supplements.)