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Nutrition Exercise and Health Sciences

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Background: Studies examining the physiological consequences associated with deficits in energy availability (EA) for male athletes are sparse.

Purpose: To examine male athlete triad components; low energy availability (LEA) with or without an eating disorder risk (ED), reproductive hormone [testosterone (T)], and bone mineral density (BMD) in endurance-trained male athletes during different training periods.

Methods: A cross-sectional design with 14 participants (age: 26.4 ± 4.2 years; weight: 70.6 ± 6.4 kg; height: 179.5 ± 4.3 cm; BMI: 21.9 ± 1.8 kg/m2) were recruited from the local community. Two separate training weeks [low (LV) and high (HV) training volumes] were used to collect the following: 7-day dietary and exercise logs, and blood concentration of T. Anthropometric measurements was taken prior to data collection. A one-time BMD measure (after the training weeks) and VO2max-HR regressions were utilized to calculate EEE.

Results: Overall, EA presented as 27.6 ± 10.7 kcal/kgFFM·d-1 with 35% (n = 5) of participants demonstrating increased risk for ED. Examining male triad components, 64.3% presented with LEA (≤ 30 kcal/kgFFM·d-1) while participants presented with T (1780.6 ± 1672.6 ng/dl) and BMD (1.31 ±.09 g/cm2) within normal reference ranges. No differences were found across the 2 training weeks for EI, with slight differences for EA and EEE. Twenty-five participants (89.3%) under-ingested CHO across both weeks, with no differences between weeks.

Conclusion: Majority of endurance-trained male athletes presented with one compromised component of the triad (LEA with or without ED risk); however, long-term negative effects on T and BMD were not demonstrated. Over 60% of the participants presented with an EA ≤ 30 kcal/kgFFM·d-1, along with almost 90% not meeting CHO needs. These results suggest male endurance-trained athletes may be at risk to negative health outcomes similar to mechanistic behaviors related to EA with or without ED in female athletes.


This article was originally published Open Access in Frontiers in Nutrition. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


Frontiers in Nutrition

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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