Energy availability (EA) is a scientific concept describing how much energy is available for basic metabolic functions such as reproduction, immunity, and skeletal homeostasis. Carefully controlled studies on women have shown pathological effects of EA < 30 kcal/kg fat-free mass (FFM), and this state has been labeled low EA (LEA). Bodybuilding is a sport in which athletes compete to show muscular definition, symmetry, and low body fat (BF). The process of contest preparation in bodybuilding includes months of underfeeding, thus increasing the risk of LEA and its negative health consequences. As no well-controlled studies have been conducted in natural male bodybuilders on effects of LEA, the aim of this review was to summarize what can be extrapolated from previous relevant research findings in which EA can be calculated. The reviewed literature indicates that a prolonged EA < 25 kcal/kg FFM results in muscle loss, hormonal imbalances, psychological problems, and negatively affects the cardiovascular system when approaching the lower limits of BF (∼4%–5%) among males. Case studies on natural male bodybuilders who prepare for contest show muscle loss (>40% of total weight loss) with EA < 20 kcal/kg FFM, and in the study with the lowest observed BF (∼4 kg), major mood disturbance and hormonal imbalances co-occurred. Studies also underline the problem of BF overshoot during refeeding after extremes of LEA among males. A more tempered approach (EA > 25 kcal/kg FFM) might result in less muscle loss among natural male bodybuilders who prepare for contest, but more research is needed.
Jennifer Hamer, Ben Desbrow, and Chris Irwin
. , & Melin , A. ( 2019 ). Exercise dependence, eating disorder symptoms and biomarkers of relative energy deficiency in sports (RED-S) among male endurance athletes . BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 5 ( 1 ), e000439 . PubMed ID: 30792881 doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000439 Troy , K. , Hoch , A
Megan A. Kuikman, Margo Mountjoy, Trent Stellingwerff, and Jamie F. Burr
relative energy deficiency in sports (RED-S): 6-month randomised controlled trial . BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine, 5 ( 1 ), 1 – 8 . 10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000523 Koehler , K. , Hoerner , N.R. , Gibbs , J.C. , Zinner , C. , & Braun , H. ( 2016 ). Low energy availability in exercising men
Rachael E. Flatt and Craig Barr Taylor
Energy Deficiency in Sports (RED-S; formerly known as the Female Athlete Triad), a disorder common to many athletes. The symptoms of this disorder overlap with AN and may reflect an eating disorder ( Mountjoy et al., 2014 ). A screening tool for RED-S is available, but has not yet been validated
) questionnaire, combined with clinical interview, for identifying male athletes at risk of developing bone health, endocrine and performance consequences of relative energy deficiency in sports (RED-S). Fifty competitive male road cyclists, recruited through links of participants in a pilot study, were assessed