One For Wellness: Student Athletes And Diet Trends

Experts say children and teenagers should stay away from diet trends.

Video Transcript

- And twice a week for staff. One North Texas dietitian is concerned about the questions she is getting from young teenage athletes. She says more and more children are asking her about dieting and diet trends. We break it down in today's Ones for Wellness. In her career as a sports performance dietitian, Brittany Wehrle says she's never been so concerned about the questions she's getting lately.

BRITTANY WEHRLE: A lot of them have asked about specific diets or if they should be on, you know, a very specific plan or cutting out certain food groups.

- She sees patients as young as 8 at the Children's Health Andrews Institute of Sports Performance in Plano.

BRITTANY WEHRLE: That's always been a question we've gotten. But anecdotally, it seems like it's increased with the pandemic.

- Her other concern these athletes are performance driven and often are willing to go the extra mile to get better at their sport.

BRITTANY WEHRLE: When we are, as people, chasing a health or fitness or performance goal, we assume that weight loss is going to be the thing that helps us get there or that a special diet that's hard to follow is more acceptable and effective.

- But with young children who are still growing, she says, there is no proof of improved performance because of restrictive diets.

BRITTANY WEHRLE: We don't really need to change their weight. We don't really need to cut out a food group. We need to look at things like timing, and are they sleeping enough, and are they eating enough before and after they perform. There are so many different angles that we attack things from that I think that our athletes don't think about until they come see me because of what they hear around them.

- Restricting food groups or calories can adversely impact overall growth, weaken bones, and can cause eating disorders.

BRITTANY WEHRLE: The best diet for athletes, to give you a very exciting answer, is one that is balanced, is timed out well, and one that includes all food groups, so that they don't run the risk of deficiencies, growth issues, injury, any of that bad stuff that we want to avoid.

- And she says the top three diets she gets asked about the most are keto, intermittent fasting, and plant-based diets. And it's often because they have heard about it on social media or at home. She says children really should be kept away from diet trends. He got shot.