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Canadian researchers are developing a diagnostic tool to predict risk and prevent RED-S and overtraining

If you feel you have experienced RED-S and overtraining, this group of Canadian specialists wants your input

In 2014, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) first introduced the term Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S), which refers to low energy availability resulting from a mismatch between energy intake (i.e. fuel in the form of food) and energy expenditure from training. While the term is now widely recognized by the endurance sport community, there remains a gap in its assessment and treatment. A group of Canadian researchers is trying to close this gap by developing a diagnostic tool for athletes. 

OFSAA 2019. Photo: Maxine Gravina

Rachel Hannah is on the development team, alongside Austen Forbes and Alex Coates who both have a background in elite triathlon. As a marathoner and registered dietitian, who has had personal experience with RED-S, Hannah says she is excited about the project. “RED-S is a condition that can prevent athletes from competing due to its negative health and performance issues, even forcing some into early retirement,” she says. “There is currently no solution to the problem, because it is a relatively new area of study that reveals the difficulty in capturing all of the components that go into an athlete’s health and performance. We are collaborating with AI Endurance, which was founded by Markus Rummel in 2020, to create a diagnostic tool.”

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In order to develop this tool, Hannah is asking runners to help. “This software would provide a predictive and diagnostic tool that could enable an athlete to understand their risk levels for developing RED-S or overtraining. We are currently looking for athletes to fill out a diagnostic questionnaire in order for us to collect data. We are particularly looking for athletes who are currently diagnosed with RED-S or overtraining or have experienced RED-S or overtraining in the past.”

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To take the survey, or for more information go to oneathlete.ca.

RELATED: Missed periods and stress fractures: Rachel Hannah’s story