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Male Body Builders and Disordered Eating
Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope
Men who participate in sports or activities that emphasize or hyper-focus on body image may be more susceptible to developing disordered eating habits. In attempt to achieve an “ideal” body, men who participate in bodybuilding may be more likely to manipulate their diet, how they eat, or more frequently engaging in dieting/restrictive eating.
Other bodybuilders may exhibit behaviors characteristic of “Orthorexia”, a term used to describe individuals who are obsessed about eating “clean” or who have excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods that are perceived to be unhealthy in any way.
When Body Judgement Is a Part of the Sport
Many bodybuilders may participate in competitions in which their body is exhibited and judged. This may further influence a man to manipulate how he eats in attempt to achieve perfection with his body. While some bodybuilders may not have a diagnosable eating disorder, the manners in which they eat and consume food can be considered irregular or disorderly.
For example, some body builders may follow extreme rules about what and when they eat. Perhaps before a competition or event, bodybuilders will only be allowed to eat certain foods or cut out certain food groups altogether to obtain or keep their physique.
Dealing with Diet Fluctuations
Dieting schemes are not unusual for a bodybuilder to follow, in which they might eat rigidly for 5-6 days out of the week and have 1-2 days of “cheat days”, in which they might be allowed by their trainer to indulge in whatever they want.
Bodybuilders may fluctuate between various diets, from eating high protein – low carbohydrate, to moderate protein – high carbohydrate, and so forth.
Keeping a Watchful Eye on Diet
The many ways in which bodybuilders are instructed and taught to eat and manipulate their diet can lead to distorted thoughts and beliefs about food and nutrition. While bodybuilding is a sport that can lead to great athleticism, it is crucial to maintain a watchful eye on how one eats, being mindful to have a balance with diet, nutrition, and health. Disordered eating, over time, can lead to a more harmful eating disorder if left unchecked.
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
What factors do you think have the strongest influence on male body builders and disordered eating? In what ways can male body builders work towards finding a balance with bodybuilding, healthy image, and body image?
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 2nd, 2015
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com