The Invisible Epidemic: Energy Deficiency in Male Athletes

April 7, 2022 by
Photo Credit: CrossFit Games

Women are often underrepresented in sports and nutrition research but there is one area where there is more awareness around female athletes than male athletes, and that is the impact of energy deficiency. 

Unlike men, women who train hard and undereat have a canary-in-the-coal-mine, and that’s their menstrual cycle. 

The loss of the eumenorrheic period in female athletes is the most obvious sign of relative energy deficiency, which was once called the female athlete triad. The condition was officially renamed “relative energy deficiency in sport,” or “RED-S” by the IOC in 2014.

While the condition does encompass the female athlete triad, which consists of disordered eating patterns, loss of menstrual cycle, and osteoporosis, it is actually a much broader problem and is most often caused by consuming too few calories to support the activity or training a person is trying to do. It can impact athletes and non-athletes alike as well as men and women of any age.

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