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Sports and Professional Athletes

The body composition of sports and professional athletes has been of considerable importance to scientists, clinicians and medics specializing in sports medicine. For this select group of people a relatively low body fat is desirable to optimize physical performance. Strength and power activities require large muscle mass to enhance performance.

Until recently general Bioelectrical Impedance (BIA) equations developed for the average population were used to assess body fat of sports and athletes and found to over estimate the Fat Free Mass(FFM). Research has clearly shown that general population equations cannot be used to accurately estimate the Fat Free Mass (FFM) as bone density, skeletal muscle mass and mineral content of physically active individuals and athletes is greater than those individuals with sedentary lifestyle.

BIA equations developed for physically active individuals as used in Maltron Body Composition Analysers yield more accurate estimation of body composition in this select group than equations developed for the general population.

Scientists and sports medicine professionals have been studying the profile of elite athletes for many years and found athletes and physically active individuals to be leaner than sedentary individuals, regardless of gender. It was also found that female athletes had relatively higher body fat then male athletes in the same sport. Body composition information is an important indicator of one’s health, it can also be used to estimate the athletes optimal body weight.
It is important to understand that a certain amount of body fat is required to perform the normal physiological and metabolic functions. It is agreed in the scientific world that minimum body Fat of males should not be less than 5%. For females it is indicated to be double and more. There is some concern for those attaining to reduce body fat becoming amenorrheic(less than three menstrual periods per year). This may lead to loss of bone mineral over a period of time.
As a professional we would recommend setting individual goals within the range of body fat values than to expect all athletes in a given sport to achieve the same level of body fatness. There may be a possibility that some feel pressured to engage in unsafe practices to meet unrealistic weight and fat loss goals. Body composition of athletes should be assessed using Maltron Body Composition Analysers at the beginning of each season training period.