Female Athlete Weight: How Low Is Too Low?

STACK Expert Courtney Hudson explains why maintaining a healthy weight and a proper percentage of body fat is important for female athletes.

Female athlete weight issues don't always get the attention they deserve. When you're on the go during your sport's season, it's all too easy to skip meals or rush through them. Pretty soon, you've lost a few pounds. It might not seem like a big deal, but being underweight affects your endurance and power—and it might get you passed over for elite teams and programs.

Being underweight can cause:

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Female Athletes and Weight

Female athlete weight issues don't always get the attention they deserve. When you're on the go during your sport's season, it's all too easy to skip meals or rush through them. Pretty soon, you've lost a few pounds. It might not seem like a big deal, but being underweight affects your endurance and power—and it might get you passed over for elite teams and programs.

Being underweight can cause:

  • Low muscle tone
  • Low power production
  • Poor endurance
  • Longer recovery time

The average range of body fat for female athletes is between 18 to 25 percent. Athletes who require speed and agility—runners and sprinters, basketball guards, and softball slappers—should be near 18 to 21 percent. Field players—basketball post players and softball power hitters and pitchers—need to be closer to 23 to 25 percent body fat.

Combining weight with body fat percentage completes the profile. For example, a high school senior weighing 90 pounds with 25 percent body fat has low mass and low muscle, but a 140-pound athlete with 21 percent body fat has a good fat-to-muscle ratio and will likely perform at a competitive level.

Here are some things to avoid if you want to maintain a healthy weight:

  • Skipping meals
  • Sugary snacks and beverages
  • High carbohydrate meals
  • Processed and packaged foods
  • Poor sleeping routine
  • Over-consumption of caffeinated products

Here are some ways to gain weight in a healthy way and improve your muscle tone.

  • Eat a minimum of three meals a day with 4-6 ounces of lean protein at each meal.
  • Eat high-protein snacks such as meat and nuts.
  • Get carbohydrates from fruit or whole grains.
  • Sleep in complete darkness with the TV and radio off to allow all your senses to rest.
  • Drink about 100 ounces f water per day.

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Topics: BASKETBALL TRAINING | PROTEIN | BURN FAT | WATER | POWER | FOODS | RECOVERY | ENDURANCE | FRUIT | SNACKS | SLEEP