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Weight Loss Tips for Athletes

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 4, 2024.

Why do some athletes want to lose weight?

Athletes are often under a lot of pressure to be at a certain weight for some sports. These sports include dance, gymnastics, diving, or figure skating. This often causes athletes to lose weight in unhealthy ways (skipping meals, using diet pills or laxatives, or vomiting). Unhealthy dieting can lead to unhealthy eating habits or eating disorders (anorexia or bulimia). Unhealthy dieting and heavy exercise may also affect menstrual cycles and bone health in women. It may also affect the growth and development of young athletes.

What is a healthy weight loss goal?

A safe weight loss goal is 1 to 2 pounds per week. Allow plenty of time before an event to lose weight safely. Losing too much weight too quickly can hurt your performance and cause health problems. It can also cause you to lose muscle along with fat. The best time to try to lose weight is during the off season or at the start of the season, before a competition. Resistance training may limit loss of muscle as you lose fat. Ask your dietitian or healthcare provider to help you choose a weight loss goal that is right for your height, age, and activity level.

What is a healthy meal plan for an athlete?

Eat a variety of healthy foods that are low in calories during regular meals and snacks. Do not skip meals. The following are suggested amounts of the carbohydrate, protein, and fat you may need each day. Your dietitian can tell you how many calories and nutrients you need each day.

Healthy Foods

How can I safely decrease calories?

To lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, eat about 500 calories less than you normally do each day. Below are some ideas on how to decrease calories.

What are some healthy foods I can include in my meal plan?

What liquids should I drink?

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.