As I pointed out last week, one of the reasons for replacing the FAT with RED-S is that males can also be negatively impacted by undereating. If you missed last week’s blog, go back and check it out by clicking here.
Male athletes are certainly not immune to disordered eating and the negative health outcomes of undereating. While this can occur in athletes of any sport, male athletes competing in sports that emphasize leanness or require weight controlling behaviours are especially at risk. Examples of weight sensitive sports include running, cycling, judo, and wrestling.
As I previously discussed, in females, undereating can result in menstrual dysfunction, resulting in low estrogen. Males obviously don’t have a monthly period, so they don’t get the obvious sign of missing or irregular periods from underfuelling. In male athletes, this can instead manifest itself as low testosterone, which is known as hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. The low level of sex hormones, like in female athletes, can have negative outcomes on health and performance such as compromised bone mass, increasing the risk of bone stress injuries.
While there is no doubt that RED-S can occur in males, it still has differences than female athletes. Male athletes are likely more protected against the negative health outcomes of undereating than females as their energetic costs of reproduction are lower. However, more research is needed on RED-S amongst male athletes as to date, most controlled research studies have been done on females. I’m hoping to include male athletes in my thesis project to contribute to research in this area.
Stay tuned for my upcoming blog posts that will highlight some of the less talked about health consequences of undereating, including cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and haematological outcomes. To get these straight to your mailbox, click on the link below.
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