Eric Steltzer Investigates: Extreme Dieting

ILLINOIS - For as long as dietitians can remember, people have been struggling with their weight. Whether it's because they're trying to achieve certain goals or have issues with their body image.

But now more people, specifically athletes, are taking dieting to the extreme and the consequences can be deadly.

“You got to eat, breathe, speak and sleep MMA training” says professional mixed martial arts fighter Shane Shomidie.

Shomidie and his training partner Jake Constant are professional mixed martial arts fighters getting ready for their next fight, and have trained together for a long time.

The key word is “eat” and they do not always get to do a lot of it.

"I cut about 20lbs. to make weight- but I do it carefully" says Shomidie.

That's not the case for all athletes. Constant remembers what it was like wrestling in high school and college.

"Guys would wear trash bags roll up in the mats, they would sit in the boiler
room where it is 110 degrees and just sweat out 10lb to 15lbs and not
eat for two to three days" says Constant.

Some use pills and powders to get the extra edge, but that's not only the athletes.

Some supplements linked to a few deaths are banned in the military and NCAA.

However, they are easy to get online.

"That's basically pure caffeine it's going to speed your heart rate up
make you burn calories but actually too much caffeine is dangerous" says Shomidie.

The issue for a lot of these athletes is doing too much too
quickly -- resulting in them getting slammed with health problems.

"One of the first things you will think about is heart
deterioration. If you lose muscle from the heart- you cannot get that
back" says Alison Raiha.

Alison Raiha is a registered dietitian, concerned with how fast dieters lose weight. She says many just sweat it out for a quick fix, or lose it too quickly and gain it right back.

"There's been a few deaths in wrestling with people
cutting weight the wrong way and I think I know people need to
understand you need to treat your body like a vehicle and you don't
run it low on gas and oil" says Constant.

Here's three signs parents need to look for while monitoring your student athlete's dieting habits.

*Big mood swings.

* Isolation from friends and family

* Excluding themselves from the dinner table.

But on the mat, it's up to coaches to make sure athletes are not doing anything dangerous. Education is key, and they sky is the limit when you know how to combine diet and exercise.

For a link the NCAA's website you can click here:,d.aWw

Remember to always talk to your doctor before using any fitness supplements.

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