Studies of  RED-S / REDs (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport) have demonstrated that using weight as an indicator of athletic performance is not only unhelpful, but potentially damaging. 

You’re within your rights to refuse to be weighed or have your body fat measured, and sports nutrition and performance expert Rebecca McConville has suggestions of how you can discuss your choice with your coach. She also shares her advice for coaches, who may have their athletes’ best interests at heart, but not be looking at their holistic health.


Read the transcript

[Tina]  I’m a collegiate or high school athlete, and either in the training room with the athletic trainers, the sports medicine doctor, or my coach weighs us often or makes us have body composition tests and compares them against the year before or  different points in the season. Something about that doesn’t feel right in me, but I don’t know what to do. It seems like it’s really important to my coach. What should I do?

[Becca] First, I’ll always put it out there; you have the right to ask for consent. They have to ask for your consent to do any weight or body composition, and if you don’t want to do that, then you’re within your right. The second piece is to ask what do they plan to do with that information. There is a lot of what I refer to as “old school practices” in sport, where we believe that there are certain race weights or weight ranges or body composition that impact performance, but there is no research to back it up. And so it’s antiquated practices that put a lot of stress on the athletes and miss the mark. You know, having done this a long time, I’m always shocked at the different body types. Whether it’s height, body composition, even what they choose to eat for nutrition, but yet they excel at their sport. And I think the biggest thing is to lean in to what works for you, your n equals one, and not get so caught up in the numbers. 

Another big thing to add is, we know from the RED-S literature that actually there is a place where, again going back to the previous question answered, those savings accounts, at some point, the body is going to put the brakes on and it’s not going to allow you to drop any more weight and it’s going to start pulling energy from your organs and your body. So going off weight as an indicator is a really slippery slope. I’ve sometimes even had athletes that gained weight as a body’s way of protecting itself, wondering if it’s going to go back into starvation mode. 

I know it’s hard because coaches come from an authority, almost sometimes parental role, especially in college. You’re with them all the time, more than your parents now that you’ve left the nest. So trying to advocate for what you feel like you need, what do they plan to do with that data, and is It ultimately necessary, as well. For administrative standpoint, I hope that schools will start to reconsider the holistic health of the athlete and are we putting an undue stress on them that’s not necessary.

 [Tina]  For one of those athletes who had the courage to then show their coach this video  to try and explain it, what would you like to say to the coaches watching this now, who have just always used this as one of their ways to know if someone is “fit,” to help people. They just want to help. It’s coming from a place of love; they just want to get them to their potential. What would you say to that coach right now? 

 [Becca]  Absolutely.  Coach,I know that you got into the sport with your athletes’ best interest at heart. You probably truly believe you are doing everything that you can to help them perform well and be of optimal health. But I challenge you to look up Ron Thompson. He has 50 factors that can influence performance, and I think before you put a lot of weight, no pun intended, on their weight or body composition, look at those other factors.  Are we even talking about mental health? Are we even talking about self-care? Are there skill-based things that they can learn, rather than there being so much influence on weight before we start having an overemphasis on that? Maybe that’s a healthier way to get better performance that’s in a more proactive, positive manner than having it solely driven on what their body looks like and weighs like.  

[Tina] Okay, thank you very much.

check it out

Recovering from RED-S is hard. It’s even harder if you’re working through it alone. Even if you have professional support, they’re not available 24-7, and that can lead to going down search engine rabbit holes that have the potential to derail everything.

Our online resource, RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover, will answer all those questions swimming around in your head about recovery. It will give you the opportunity to connect with the experts you’ve come to know here, and to surround  yourself with a community of others who are going through it too. THANK YOU! to Athletic Greens and Tracksmith for supporting this YouTube series and RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover.

Go to to get five free travel packs of AG1 and a free one year’s supply of vitamin D3+K2 with your subscription!

When you go to and use the code TINA15 at checkout, you’ll get free shipping and Tracksmith will donate 5% of your order to Rising Hearts, the Indigenous-led nonprofit founded by Jordan Marie Daniels.

more about becca:

Rebecca McConville, RD, LD, CSSD, CEDS, is a sports nutrition and performance expert who helps her clients explore and strengthen their relationship with food, weight, body image and sports performance. Her book, “Finding Your Sweet Spot,” helps athletes maximize their potential while avoiding the dangers of RED-S. You can find Becca at

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