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  1. #1
    Registered User Robertcw3rd's Avatar
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    How do pro-atheletes stay lean year round?

    In my opinion, getting under 10% bodyfat is hard work. And it doesn't really feel that healthy imo either.

    So I wonder why football players, gymnasts and swimmers can have it seemingly no problem but bodybuilders are put under high stress getting ready for a competition.

    So what's up with that?

    Examples of gymnasts include Nile Wilson and Rick Dalton.

    Football players include Phillip Dorsett, David Njoku, Derrick Henry, Melvin Gordon, Saquon Barkley,

    NBA player might be Sean Williams, Derrick Rose, Carl Laundry, Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard.

    I was reading how Steve Cook struggled with eating disorders and body image issues. Starving himself before photoshoots and shows and binge eating afterwards.

    This make me think, what are these other athletes doing to themselves?

    I know not everyone in the NFL or NBA looks shredded. Not all linebackers or receivers are low bodyfat.

    And it seems all gymnasts pretty much are. But they look starved to me. Like they are running calorie deficits all the time.

    Then medical institutions come out and say a healthy body fat for a male athlete is between 6%-13%. And I'm thinking that's a little extreme. Anything under 10% gets dangerous long term right?

    So what do you all think is going on in pro-sports with body image?
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  2. #2
    Registered User Ghawk21's Avatar
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    I mean, they train year round and are literally paid to train and be athletes. They're not running at a deficit, they're maintaining mostly. A number of them put on weight in the offseason and then lose it during training camp as well. Most likely aren't under 10% anyways, they just have a great deal of muscle and can look more shredded at higher bf levels.
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  3. #3
    I'm huge in Japan! xsquid99's Avatar
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    Few people could stay at below 10% bodyfat year round, most of them are very likely higher than that but have so much muscle that maybe they appear leaner then they really are. And don't forget that they're pro athletes because many of them are genetically gifted, and many of them may not be, or were at some point NOT natural.
    All it takes is consistency, effort, proper nutrition, good programming, and TIME.
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  4. #4
    Registered User sunsean's Avatar
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    Agree with above - these are people who are genetically coded to perform at a top level - combine great genetics with the fact that sports/fitness is there whole life and it's not that surprising.
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    Also don't forget that pro athletes have other pros handling every aspect. Their workouts, their diets, etc. At that level, they are absolutely set up for success. Imagine what you can accomplish if you are paid to be at top level, and have every possible tool at your disposal to ensure success. It's a different world!

    The stress bodybuilders are under is a whole different animal. Cutting to much lower BF levels than pro athletes, then immediately switching to gaining for whatever window of opportunity they have to try to put on mass, then immediately cutting again for a comp or photoshoot - over and over.
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  6. #6
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    I did gymnastics recreationally for several years and was around 10%. Didn't try to bulk. That's really all it took as a younger guy. Don't try to gain weight. The body added the necessary muscle. It didn't add the worthless fat. Idk how the body does it, and it doesn't work that way anymore as a 35 year old, but that's what it did as a young'n.
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  7. #7
    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Genetics is a big one, so is constant activity.

    My pet theory is that having a consistently high lean body mass for a sustained period means that homeostasis shifts so that a fairly lean state is 'natural' for you. But only while you continue to maintain it with exercise. It might be reasonable to expect that a very active lifestyle might allow you to maintain 10-12% BF without constantly battling hunger.
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  8. #8
    Registered User Robertcw3rd's Avatar
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    I'm not really convinced they have all that great of expert nutrition. Most of the team meal prep is available to see on youtube. New England has the best setup of any team I've seen so far. They customize each meal to the player and feed them 24/7 on demand.

    But most teams only get fed once or twice a day while at practice. They aren't really taken care of like you'd expect. Most have to cook for themselves at home after practice and so on.

    Same for the NBA. They have registered dietitians working for the teams but mileage varies.

    They all say they eat somewhere between 3,500 - 7,000 calories per day and the Texans coach says he 'tries not to allow any of his guys to go less than 3,500 calories a day for safety' but that 'it sometimes happens.'

    I think a lot of it is just ballpark guessing and that the players body compositions vary wildly throughout the year. Sometimes gaining muscle, sometimes losing it.

    During game time a lot of the players don't look jacked. They look muscular and strong, but also like they're losing mass from all the cardio of the sport.

    If I had to guess, they are just burnt out from burning something like 5000 calories a day. And they just try to eat to keep up with that.

    As for gymnasts, well I honestly think they just starve themselves. Nile Wilson has a youtube channel as well and the guy doesn't count his calories. He just sort of slaps together stereotypically 'healthy meals' a few times per day, but he can't be getting more than 2,000 calories a day. He has some yogurt here and there, a berry smoothy. Chicken breast salad stuff like that, but it's not serious food for muscle building. And the guy does look like he runs a deficit all the time, honestly.

    Though the one common trend I saw was that none of the athletes ever ate any fats in their diets unless it came from an 8oz wild salmon. Most of them focus on protein and carbs only, and variety of vegetables. The NBA tracks micronutrients via blood samples so those guys get their micros fully taken care of via whole foods by team chefs as well.
    Last edited by Robertcw3rd; 02-08-2020 at 09:56 AM.
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  9. #9
    Registered User sunsean's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Robertcw3rd View Post

    If I had to guess, they are just burnt out from burning something like 5000 calories a day. And they just try to eat to keep up with that.
    This is really what it boils down to. When you're super active for hours/day every day training and competing, you don't really have to count your calories.

    I forget the exact number, but I heard Michael Phelps would eat like 8k calories/day while training. The more active you are, the more you can eat, and pro athletes are very active all the time.
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  10. #10
    Registered User Cantplankwell's Avatar
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    Most athletes pro or national team (like olypic sports) are usually younger, say well under 30, so much easier to keep weight off at that age. My son rowed in university for 1 year in their development system (did not ultimately get on the big team)...it was train, eat, sleep, train, eat, study, train....brutal, ciould never eat enough.
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  11. #11
    my non-edited 'before'pic etet1919's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Robertcw3rd View Post
    In my opinion, getting under 10% bodyfat is hard work. And it doesn't really feel that healthy imo either.

    So I wonder why football players, gymnasts and swimmers can have it seemingly no problem but bodybuilders are put under high stress getting ready for a competition.

    So what's up with that?

    Examples of gymnasts include Nile Wilson and Rick Dalton.

    Football players include Phillip Dorsett, David Njoku, Derrick Henry, Melvin Gordon, Saquon Barkley,

    NBA player might be Sean Williams, Derrick Rose, Carl Laundry, Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard.

    I was reading how Steve Cook struggled with eating disorders and body image issues. Starving himself before photoshoots and shows and binge eating afterwards.

    This make me think, what are these other athletes doing to themselves?

    I know not everyone in the NFL or NBA looks shredded. Not all linebackers or receivers are low bodyfat.

    And it seems all gymnasts pretty much are. But they look starved to me. Like they are running calorie deficits all the time.

    Then medical institutions come out and say a healthy body fat for a male athlete is between 6%-13%. And I'm thinking that's a little extreme. Anything under 10% gets dangerous long term right?

    So what do you all think is going on in pro-sports with body image?
    I can only speak with regards to gymnasts. They do not starve themselves. They need to be able to perform powerfully and precisely, with incredible muscular control, balance and optimum coordination! This sport is judged on the "perfection" of execution of every little movement pattern, requiring full focus, gracefulness and sustained power output. They need to eat healthfully in order to train through grueling practice and stressful competitions! They are lean because of their strenuous training and their genetics.
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