What You Need to Know

As a significant person in an athletes life, you play a key role in their support system. You can help by educating yourself about RED-S, how to spot the early warning signs, and where to find support. Here's what we think you need to know.

RED-S stands for Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport and is exactly what the name implies: a shortage of energy available to keep up with the demands of exercise, on top of essential daily functions (e.g. growth, respiration and digestion).

The term ‘low energy availability’ is used to describe the negative balance (whether intentional or unintentional) between energy intake and expenditure (i.e. food consumed vs physical exertion). In the face of sustained low energy availability, the body goes into 'energy saving mode' which negatively affects almost every system in the body. One concerning effect of RED-S is suppression of the reproductive system (which can result in irregular of missing periods among females), but RED-S can affect any athlete, of any age, gender or level, size or weight and carries serious long-term health and performance implications.

As someone who supports an athlete, we’d recommend getting to grips with the signs and symptoms, alongside common causes and how you can play your part in prevention (below).

Wherever possible, the information and advice offered on this site is based on the leading scientific research to date. Although the aim is to provide you with some support and advice, this resource is no substitute for the diagnosis or treatment from a medical professional. Head here to find them.