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RED-S warning signs as an athlete

Relative energy deficiency, or RED-S, is a condition that occurs when an individual is not getting enough energy to support their body's needs, especially during periods of intense physical activity such as competitive athletics. It can have serious consequences for athletes, including loss of bone density, decreased immune function, and decreased performance. But like many medical conditions, the earlier it's identified, the easier it is to treat.


Here are some warning signs that may indicate an athlete is experiencing relative energy deficiency:


1. An unexplained decrease in athletic performance

2. An increased risk of injury or frequent illnesses

3. Loss of muscle mass or strength

4. Changes in menstrual patterns for female athletes

5. Unintentional weight loss or difficulty maintaining desired muscle mass

6. Fatigue, irritability, or reduced concentration

7. Disordered eating patterns or feelings of guilt or shame around food


While these warning signs may seem concerning, there is hope for athletes who are struggling with energy deficiency. One powerful tool that can help athletes overcome this problem is the assistance of a sports dietitian.

blog by jenaed brodell
Energy deficiency in athletes

Who to see if you have energy deficiency

A sports dietitian can help to create a personalized nutrition plan that takes into account the athlete's unique needs and preferences. They can help develop meal ideas that provide sufficient energy and help improve nutrient intake. They will also work closely with the athlete to create achievable goals and prevent further RED-S.


How do you know if you are on the right path

Finally, signs of recovery from energy deficiency include improved athletic performance, improved mood, and driving the hormone level up along with regular menstrual cycles if the athlete is female. Reestablishing sufficient energy intake, increased bone density and increase muscle mass, and normal hormone levels are the most important among these signs of recovery.


It's important to remember that athletes who are experiencing relative energy deficiency are not alone. There is help available from a variety of health professionals, including sports dietitians, exercise physiologists, and physicians, along with therapists, to help address any disordered eating patterns.



If you or an athlete close to you is experiencing any of these warning signs, consider seeking help from a qualified nutrition professional. Together, you can work to create a sustainable and effective path to recovery, health and long-term success in sports.


Book a free discovery call today to find out more information on Nutrition and Co's services

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