Jan 15, 2016
Experts Examine Male Athlete Triad

In 1993, researchers reported that female athletes, such as distance runners, suffer from a “Female Triad” of low bone mass, poor nutrition, and amenorrhea. Almost 23 years later, sports medicine experts have proposed that males suffer a similar combination of the problems–the former two issues and low male hormones.

According to Runner’s Weekly, runners are at especially high risk of the Triad because they often focus their efforts on keeping their bodies lean, and their training does not do much to strengthen their bones, in contrast to basketball and soccer players. Runner’s Weekly also cited a study reporting that those who participate in sports that emphasize leanness are 25 times more likely to develop eating disorders, and overtraining can cause male athletes to produce up to 40 percent less testosterone.

Adam Tenforde, MD, said he has observed these problems in male athletes in all sports at all school levels. He said they could be solved by eliminating “nutrition deficit,” in which athletes do not eat enough to sustain their training.

“The key for both young female and male runners is to develop a healthy attitude about eating and sports,” Tenforde said. “The mindset should be, ‘I am fueling myself.’ It should not be about controlling calories or eating only ‘the right kinds of foods.’ Teens should try to consume 1300 milligrams of calcium a day and 600 international units of Vitamin D. Carrying portable snacks can help. Also, sleep cannot be ignored. Especially in the high-performing runner, it’s challenging to balance the demands of school, running, and other activities.”

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