The Importance of Body Composition For Athletes

15 May, 2020
Creatine or HMB can improve body composition in athletes who follow a proper training plan. In this article, we'll discuss the importance of this aspect for athletes.
 

Body composition plays a fundamental role in the performance of athletes. That’s why it’s crucial that their diets are adequate. With a balanced diet, athletes can maximize muscle gains and reduce adipose tissue. It can also help them improve their performance due to the correct supply of nutrients.

In the following paragraphs, we’re going to explain why body composition is so important and what you can do to improve it. Keep reading to learn more about it!

Muscle mass and body composition

Muscle is the tissue that athletes are always looking to increase because it’s metabolically active. Having a greater amount of muscle tissue allows you to exert more strength and increase your performance.

It also has a protective role against joint injuries, and it allows the athlete to be more efficient when performing technical movements. For this reason, athletes should follow diets that aim to increase or preserve the muscle and ensure its recovery after each training session.

To do this, it’s necessary to track their protein intake. According to scientific literature, an intake of between 0.7 and 0.9 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight is enough to produce a hypertrophy stimulus.

On top of that, athletes can use other strategies, such as drinking a small protein and carb shake before bed, to stimulate endogenous protein synthesis while they sleep.

A female athlete lifting weights to improve her body composition
 

Adipose tissue

Fat is the body’s energy reservoir. Unlike muscle, it doesn’t have any mechanical function. An increase in this type of tissue causes a lot of weight gain.

Playing sports with higher body weight than recommended can wear down the joints and increase the risk of injury. This happens frequently in sports that involve constant impacts.

Having a high body weight also decreases muscle efficiency. Therefore, this impairs qualities such as speed or agility. It’s always recommended to keep the athlete’s fat percentage below 10.5 percent in men and 18.5 percent in women to ensure greater competitive efficiency.

Energy balance is the most influential factor when it comes to losing fat. This means that the balance must lean into the deficit side. Athletes can achieve this in many ways; one of them is to follow an intermittent fasting process.

These types of strategies can also increase the performance of an athlete if they work out during the fasting period, as shown in the scientific literature. It’s necessary to consult a professional nutritionist to plan these types of eating tactics.

How to improve body composition?

For this purpose, it’s best to cut back processed food from our diets and adapt it to our daily caloric expenditure. Tracking protein intake and reducing carb consumption are also strategies that will help athletes control their body weight and improve their composition.

In addition, they can also use a supplement that offers improvements in body composition when following the appropriate training programs. Creatine and HMB are two examples of supplements with scientific support that can maximize muscle gain and help with fat loss.

 
Two empty plates next to a full plate in front of a clock to illustrate intermittent fasting

On the other hand, training modalities such as HIIT can also improve body composition significantly. This type of effort activates the anabolic pathways of the body; in turn, this contributes to fat loss from an increased caloric expenditure while resting.

Important factors to take into account

Body composition plays a fundamental role in the performance of athletes. In addition to improving aspects such as speed and agility, it significantly reduces the risk of injury, especially on a joint level.

For this reason, it’s interesting to adapt the diet individually and adopt strategies that allow the caloric balance to lean towards a deficit. Intermittent fasting or carb restriction are suitable options during rest days.

It’s also recommended to reduce the consumption of processed foods, and increase the intake of fresh products, fruits, and vegetables. As if this wasn’t enough, athletes can also improve their body composition using certain supplements such as creatine or HMB, within the framework of the appropriate training system.

However, it’s recommended to go to a doctor or nutritionist before starting to consume any supplements. The idea is that the specialist will evaluate the patient’s needs and regulate their intake appropriately.

 
  • Morton RW., Murphy KT., McKellar SR., Schoenfeld BJ., et al., A systematic review meta analysis and meta regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training induced gains in muscle mass and strenght in healthy adults. Br J Sport Med, 2018. 52 (6): 376-384.
  • Vicente Salar N., Urdampilleta Otegui A., Roche Collado E., Endurance training in fasting conditions: bioloogical adaptations and body weight management. Nutr Hosp, 2015. 32 (6): 2409-20.
  • Pitchfrod LM., Fuller JC Jr., Rathmacher JA., Effects of reactiv “Maximum HMB” on body mass and performance in elite male rugby players. J Strenght Cond Res, 2019. 33 (2): 1-2.