Connection Between Overtraining Symptom and Undereating

I’ve discussed the concept of overtraining and “how much exercise is too much?” previously. Another harmful phenomenon among exercisers is undereating, now called “relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S)”, which I discussed here. It used to be called the female athlete triad, because it appeared to be more common in female athletes, but is now known to affect males as well. A lot of the discussion of RED-S has been about issues like trying to achieve an ideal training weight.

But a recent study [1] has shown that undereating can occur unintentionally for people undergoing a high training volume. It seems that your appetite cues become unreliable and can lead to undereating, and especially inadequate carbohydrate consumption. This inadequate fueling can exacerbate the symptoms of overtraining.

I think the key takeaway is to not exceed the amount of training that is right for you. Then this unintentional undereating phenomenon won’t kick in. I think the important issue might be those exercising to lose weight quickly. Keeping to the common-sense suggestion from many authors of not trying to lose much more than 1 lb per week will help avoid this.


  1. Stellingwerff, T, et al, “Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) and Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S): Shared Pathways, Symptoms and Complexities”, Sports Med, 2021. link here.

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