Monitoring Body Composition


 Monitoring Body Composition

  • Weight and Muscle mass play a large part in individual athletic performance.  How an athlete builds muscle mass, loses weight or gains weight is an important issue.  The following describes the athletics department policy on how athletes are to be directed to achieve the best athletic body composition. 
    • Juniata Coaches do not have responsibility for monitoring weight control of athletes and should entrust only Juniata NATA and NSCA professionals, or Team Physician to measure body composition.
    • Juniata College intercollegiate athletes have direct access to NATA certified athletic trainers and our NSCA professional for an initial assessment as well as, on a periodic basis, advice on healthy weight control.
    • Body composition assessment should be done early in athletes' first seasons and then early in each subsequent traditional season.  Weight control should then be sought on the basis of percent of body fat rather than "body weight" or a weight/height ratio.
    • An athlete's goal for body composition should be made in terms of a range of values determined by the athlete in consultation with the trainer, NSCA professional and/or team physician (or personal physician).
    • If a weight gain or loss goal has been established, a management agreement should be developed with the physician, trainer and athlete.  Monitoring will be done by the trainer and/or physician.   The coach may be updated periodically on the methods and progress of the athlete by the athletic trainer but is not to be directly involved in any “weigh-ins”.
    • Checking weight more frequently than weekly is not useful unless dehydration is an issue (as in training camps/two-a-days).
    • Current professional recommendations are for no more than two pounds body weight loss/week.
    • Increasing muscle mass by using such enhancers as anabolic steroids is of course prohibited (see medical policy G for Juniata’s position statement re. steroids, supplements and ergogenic aids).

Optimizing nutrition and body composition can have a role in performance.  But achieving optimal body composition must be done in a safe and healthy way.  Weighing athletes, punishment for lack of weight control, disparaging comments by a coach about body composition, and linking body weight to performance can lead to pathogenic weight control behaviors and ultimately to eating disorders. The above policies will allow for the safest possible initial assessment and safe monitoring of weight and composition. 

  • Eating Disorders - Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are psychiatric syndromes characterized by self-starvation and/or binge-purge type behavior with an extreme desire to be thin.  Although there are distinguishing features, many of the symptoms and signs are present in both.  Common signs and symptoms are listed below.
    • Chronic concerns of being/feeling fat even when weight is average or below average (distorted body image).
    • Preoccupation with food, calories, and weight.
    • Increasing criticism of one's body.
    • Refusal to maintain a minimal normal weight consistent with the athlete’s age, height, body build, and sport.
    • Secretly eating or stealing food.
    • Consumption of huge amounts of food, not consistent with the athlete's weight.
    • Eating large meals then disappearing to the bathroom (BR).
    • Bloodshot eyes, especially after trips to the BR, swollen parotid glands at angle of the jaw, giving "chipmunk-like" appearance.
    • Vomit, or odor of vomit in toilet, sink, or shower.
    • Foul breath, poor dental hygiene, frequent sore throats.
    • Wide fluctuations in weight over short time spans.
    • Excess laxative use, use of diet pills, and/or diuretics.
    • Periods of severe caloric restriction or repeated fasting.
    • Relentless, excessive exercise; not part of training regimen.
    • Depressed mood and self-deprecating thoughts after eating.
    • Avoiding situations in which the athlete may be observed while eating (e.g., refusing to eat with teammates on trips).
    • Appearing preoccupied with eating behaviors of others (friends, relatives, teammates).
    • Mood swings, irritability, poor concentration, fatigue.
    • Wearing baggy or layered clothing.
    • Complaints of bloating or lightheadedness that cannot be attributed to other medical causes.

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