If you’re a high school or collegiate athlete, your coach may weigh you or measure your body fat, and you’re not comfortable with that. What should you do?

Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark explains why weighing athletes or measuring body fat is a terrible practice and offers advice on how you can talk to your coach about it.


Read the transcript

[Tina]   I’m on a high school or a college team and my coach or the athletic trainers weigh us at the beginning of the season or throughout the season. Or sometimes they use body fat calipers to measure our body fat. What should I do? Something doesn’t feel right about that. 

[Nancy]  No, something certainly does not feel right about that, because it’s a terribly wrong practice and  it’s just putting the focus on the exact wrong thing. And we know that teams that have their body fat measured often end up having more body fat at the end of the season, just because of the stresses of losing weight, regaining weight, binge eating. It’s just a terrible practice. So I would suggest that you go up to the person, your coach, and explain, “I struggle with food; I find this to be incredibly triggering. It is very bad for my mental health, and I’d like to be excused from this practice. And please, if you need to have this measurement,  I would rather have it done at the health center as a part of my medical exam and don’t let me know what it is.” 

But ideally, the coach will realize that it is very triggering; it is very inappropriate; and it doesn’t even give helpful information. How do you know what’s the best body fat for you? Again, people, like dogs, come in different sizes and shapes. You know, is a Saint Bernard fat? No, it’s a Saint Bernard. If you take that Saint Bernard and you diet it down, does it become a Greyhound? No, it becomes a starved Saint Bernard. And is it a happy Saint Bernard? No, not at all; it’s miserable. 

So we really need to get away from focusing on body fat, and look more at muscle. You know, if maybe they want to measure your muscle, and the more muscle you have, you know, the bigger your engine and the more strong and powerful you will be. So it’s certainly worth a conversation, and if you get nowhere with the coach, then you can go to the Director of Athletics, but certainly this is a practice that is totally inappropriate.

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more about nancy:

Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD has a successful sports nutrition private practice in the Boston area. She has years of experience helping active clients—from “ordinary mortals” to Olympians—win with good nutrition. Her best-selling “Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook” has sold over 800,000 copies. It is a popular resource for reliable sports nutrition information, as is her online sports nutrition workshop. Nancy is a sought-after nutrition counselor for athletes who struggle with food-and weight issues, as well as a nutrition speaker popular with dietitians, trainers, coaches, and other health professionals. You can find her at https://nancyclarkrd.com/.

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