Are football players too fat?

January 24, 2016 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Sports Nutrition and Exercise, Weight Management

Are football players too fat?

In the world of American football, there’s a stigma that players need to increase their overall body size to make an impact on the field. But, new research from a Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan suggests that being bigger doesn't mean being better -- or healthier.

The researchers set out to determine how body size has changed in college and professional football players over the past 70 years.

Most at-risk players: offensive and defensive linemen

They started to take a look at providing the information that sports medicine personnel need to be aware of in order to effectively protect the health of the players under their care. In football, the most at-risk athletes are the offensive and defensive linemen.

The research team also determined that players have gained an average of between a quarter of a pound to one-and-a-quarter pound per year since 1942, equating to an average 60-pound increase in body mass for offensive and defensive linemen.

The reseachers said the most common diseases resulting from excess body mass and body fat, especially around the abdominal area, include high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. They added that hitting the gym and eating more aren't the only ways athletes are attempting to gain body mass.

The use of growth-promoting anabolic steroids, growth hormones and insulin carry side effects that range from mild to severe. The severity of the side effects is dependent on the dosage level of the growth promoting agents and the length of time the agents are consumed, they stated.

Increase body size healthfully

To help athletes increase their body size in a healthier manner, the researchers recommend the following:

  • Strive for lean body mass increases of less than one pound per week;
  • Maintain good nutritional intake by eating one to one-and-a-half grams of protein for every two pounds of body mass;
  • Eat adequate carbohydrates while avoiding excessive calories;
  • Perform a resistance training program three-to-five days per week; and
  • Leave plenty of room for rest and recovery.

Source: Strength and Conditioning Journal, December 2015.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.