It starts well intentioned and innocently enough: You want to drop a few pounds and get leaner for the upcoming triathlon season. You are focused—keeping an eye on your calorie intake and planning to continue on this path as you approach longer and harder workouts.
But then a funny thing happens and you start to like your new, extra-lean physique, and you begin to consistently under-eat. Experts contend that pushing the calorie-cutting envelope can potentially backfire and actually lead to negative effects on both your health and performance.
Recently, an expert panel brought together by the International Olympic Committee, examined this exact topic. A new term: Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport, or RED-S, was coined to describe health and performance issues that arise when athletes don’t eat enough to cover both training and daily life activities. The RED-S concept builds and expands upon the condition known for the past decade as the Female Athlete Triad. While the Triad describes the relationship between low energy availability, menstrual dysfunction, and poor bone health in female athletes, RED-S includes this triad and other related consequences. RED-S includes male athletes and proposes endurance athletes as a unique group of athletes at risk of relative energy deficiency. Read more