You've heard of anorexia but what about Orthorexia? Here's what it is and why it's a problem in ~30% of endurance athletes.
What is orthorexia? What are the signs and symptoms? And why it is a problem in runners, cyclists, OCR, and other endurance athletes.
Good afternoon Family of Fast. Matt Mosman, the Chief Endurance Officer over at EndurElite. Today we're gonna talk about orthorexia. Makes me think about a wrestler. Or a dinosaur. Or going to a proctologist and having an unwanted examination.
What Is Orthorexia And How Common Is It In Endurance Athletes?
Now all kidding aside, orthorexia is a serious eating disorder along the lines of anorexia. And according to the research about 30% of male endurance athletes exhibit orthorexic behaviors and about 28% of female athletes display orthorexic behavior. So what the heck is orthorexia? Well, orthorexia is basically an obsessive behavior in the pursuit of obtaining a perfect diet. Now while this sounds all great in theory it's really, really not and we're gonna get into this in a second. And with orthorexic, the problem is they start excluding so many foods that they're not getting the necessary macronutrients, micronutrients and other things in their diet that their body needs. So for example a lot of orthorexics will cut out foods that have any kind of sugar, any kind of fat, any kinda salt or anything else they deem unnecessary to be in their diet. So you can see the problem here when you start excluding certain things your food choices get so dwindled and in fact like I said before, food choices of orthorexics on a daily basis can be below 10 at some point. Like 10 total food items they will eat day after day. So think of things like tilapia, broccoli, brown rice. That's very common foods found in an orthorexic's diet.
Why Orthorexia Is A Dangerous Eating Disorder In Athletes
So what's the problem with all this? Like, you know, we all hear that like clean eating is so good for us and it is but inherently no food is bad for you. Like my partner Jordan Joy always says like, "Food has no intentions of being bad and good. Food is there to nourish you, to give you things that your body needs and to cheat on your diet every once and a while is not a big deal." But the problem with being orthorexic is like say for example fat. If you cut fat out of your diet that is no bueno. Your body needs fat, especially as it relates for the production of hormones. And then take a thing...look at things like protein. A lot of orthorexic will avoid protein especially like meat which is obviously a good source of protein. So they take out the meat and again your body needs protein to function and then to boot as an athlete to repair and recover with muscles. And then you can kinda see how you cut out other things and what an orthorexic will usually do is they'll try to replace those things with like supplements like herbs and other things that they are told are healthy. Again all in pursuit of being this, you know, perfect diet, a diet on a pedestal, feeling pure and natural on the inside. And, you know, what's kind of the worst thing about this is about 80% of orthorexics eventually transition into anorexics and this makes a lot of sense because once you start limiting your food choices down to 10 or below, you know, you're probably not getting enough calories in on a daily basis and you start to lose weight, you kinda display some of those obsessive compulsive behaviors and like I said, it turns into full blown anorexia.
So a very, very serious eating disorder. Now what do you do if you know somebody or you think somebody is displaying orthorexic behaviors? It's always a sensitive situation. In those cases, you refer them to the proper medical personnel if you can convince them to go see somebody so they can be diagnosed and treated and hopefully be taken care of. So again orthorexia, a very serious eating disorder and one that a lot of people are not so familiar with.
So that is all I have for today, my endurance friends, on orthorexia. If you want other videos like this on endurance training, nutrition and supplementation subscribe to the EndurElite YouTube channel or head on over to the EndurElite blog at www.endurelite.com. Get social with us on Facebook and Instagram and until next time, my endurance friends, stay fueled, stay focused, stay fast and stay inform