Every sport requires a different physique to succeed. Body size, shape and composition are crucial for succeeding in any sport among which body mass and composition are pivotal for athletes as they can use these as per their needs. Meanwhile, athletes should also remember that body weight and composition are not the only deciders of athletic performance, but are star factors to be considered during preparation.
In sports involving strength and power, athletes wish for fat-free mass while athletes from other sports try to gain absolute size and strength. Power athletes aim for low body fat levels while athletes involved in weight-related sports (weightlifting, lightweight rowing or combat sports) aim for the lowest-achievable BW category while maximizing lean mass within the target.
Distance runners and cyclists are advantageous when they possess a favorable ratio of weight to surface area for heat dissipation. Gymnasts, divers and dancers, in general athletes involved in acrobatic sports gain biomechanical advantage when they can easily sway their body in a limited space. While each sport requires a different body composition, athletes work hard for unrealistic weight/body mass in unrealistic time periods. These athletes expose themselves to continuous dieting, workout excessively and practice extreme weight control policies to achieve success with a leaner body composition. When athletes do this, their health is affected, performance is disrupted, and they might even succumb to eating disorders sometimes.
Athletes can improve health and performance with decreased body fat or weight when they plan for it. At the same time, the athlete should also take care to avoid too much weight gain due to sudden decrease in energy spent, as in the case of some injury or during rest period. Some sports demand high increase in body fat for performance and when athletes succumb to these requirements, they might be categorized as “obese” which increases their risk of metabolic syndrome. Sports dietitians play an integral role here, in monitoring athletes involved in sports that aim for high BMI and preventing them from being affected by metabolic risk factors.