Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 3-27-2022


Knowledge of Relative Energy Deficiency Among Collegiate Athletes

Low energy availability (LEA) can produce negative health and performance effects for collegiate athletes. It is defined as a deficit between the athlete’s caloric intake and the energy expended during competition or training. The body is then unable to support certain physiological functions that are needed to maintain optimal health. One component of the female athlete triad is disordered eating which can result in low energy availability. Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport is an extension of the female athlete triad, created to take a more holistic approach and include male athletes as well. The purpose of this study was to determine collegiate athletes’ knowledge of RED-S including signs, symptoms, and/or education about the condition provided by their athletic trainer. A brief phone interview was conducted to assess the knowledge of RED-S among collegiate athletes, including factors that can contribute to the development of RED-S. The results of this general induction approach, qualitative study revealed the participants were not knowledgeable of RED-S when asked directly. However, when prompted to discuss the components of RED-S such as low energy availability, menstrual function, bone health, endocrine function, metabolic rate, and cardiovascular dysfunction, participants were unable to articulate knowledge of the subcategories in isolation. Given the long-lasting consequences of this condition including but not limited to increased injury risk, decreased training response, impaired judgement, decreased coordination, decrease muscle strength, and decreased concentration, it is important for athletic trainers and the sports medicine staff to educate athletes on this condition and so they are more aware of the signs and symptoms in order to prevent the onset, or catch it early.