The tale of Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette ballooning toward 260 pounds became a slow-time story, for good reason. First, it was the slow time. Second, long gone are the days of football players shutting down from the end of one season to the start of the next one.
They stay in shape all year long. Also, Fournette plays for a team that has the ultimate example at the quarterback position of a constantly disciplined diet.
As noted earlier today by MDS, Fournette’s trainer has downplayed the situation. Among other things, Jordan Bush said that Fournette was losing weight by sitting in a sauna, every day.
A former executive with multiple NFL teams saw the sauna comment a a red flag. Sweating off the weight by sitting in a sauna leads to dehydration, which can lead to cramps while performing — and other problems.
Long-time NFL athletic trainer Mike Ryan, now the Sports Medicine Analyst for Sunday Night Football, shared his thoughts on the matter via text message.
“Sitting in a hot sauna may result in a lower number on the scale but it’s simply from water loss,” Ryan said. “In doing so, dehydration from this weight-loss game plan puts the athlete at a higher risk of exertional heat illness.
“High-performance athletes needing to lose weight are better served by prolonged exposure to hot-weather training while being well hydrated. I’ve witnessed plenty of NFL players shortcut the safe method to reach their training camp weight, and it often impairs both their safety and performance.”
The best approach for NFL players to losing weight is to avoid having to do so. When that fails, the sauna approach, per Ryan, should be avoided. Sitting in a sauna and seating away water may help a player reach his weight goal, but it could otherwise hurt him, literally.