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Players at all levels of baseball need to excel at throwing, hitting, running, and catching.  That calls for a sound training program.  Today, baseball coaches and athletic trainers are facing an unfamiliar training concern - players who report overweight.  Lugging around excess fat baggage can reduce a player's speed and agility, diminish endurance and make hot weather more uncomfortable.  Where should overweight players start? 

Reaching Appropriate Playing Weight

1.  Base weight-loss goals on the percent of body fat, measured by an experienced professional.  Weight-for-height charts and body mass index tables, suggested for the general population, are not appropriate for athletes who routinely carry heavier weights because of greater muscle mass.  Either desirable or goal fat percentages for professional baseball players are:

Position Recommended Percent Body Fat
Pitchers & Catchers--approximately 12%
Infielders & Outfielders--approximately 10%

2.  If body fat percentage is high, it can be reduced.  The athlete needs to consume less energy (calories) from food and expend more energy through additional activity.

3.  To consume fewer calories, reduce foods that are high in sugar and/or fat.  Some fat is necessary to provide a feeling of satiety or fullness, which prevents hunger from returning to soon.  However over indulging in sweets and high-fat snack foods (cheese, ice cream, chips, & pizza) can send total calories soaring.

4.  Balance eating throughout the day and avoid oversized portions of food.  Include breakfast and lunch to avoid becoming ravenous at dinner.  Follow the Food Guide Pyramid and eat at least the minimum number of servings from each of the five food  groups.

5.  To increase calorie expenditure, do additional walking, running, stair climbing, or cycling.  Endurance activities will use some of the calories ingested, rather than storing calories as added fat.  Resistance training is also important to maintain lean muscle tissue.

6.  All effective changes take time.  Start early in the off-season and expect weight loss to be about 1/2 to 1 pound per week.  That rate is safe and can usually be maintained until the desired weight and percent body are reached.