Supplement Abuse: A New Eating Disorder Among Men

Man lifting weights mirrorWhen you think of eating disorders, men usually don’t come to mind, but this new research may have you thinking otherwise. According to new research that was presented at the American Psychological Association (APA) meeting in Toronto, many men who are in hot pursuit of a “cut up” body are using an excessive amount of body-building supplements such as protein bars and shakes. Even worse, they’re replacing their meals with these body-building supplements and misusing them. Instead of using the supplements to build muscle, they’re using them to lose weight. APA considers this to be a new class of eating disorders.

Now for the details: 195 men between the ages of 18 and 65, who hit the gym frequently, were surveyed for this study. They were asked about their training regimen, eating habits, how often they use supplements, as well as how they feel in regards to what they see in the mirror. What did they find? The lower the man’s self-esteem, the more likely he was to misuse supplements.

If this research surprises you, it shouldn’t. When you think about it, men face pressure from society, too. Women are told they need to be stick thin – even though curves are in right now and many women have gone so far as getting illegal butt injections in hopes of achieving the perfect booty. On the other hand, men are told they need to be bulkier, that they’re not masculine without some sort of muscle, that women won’t be attracted to them without it. Although many would argue that women still have it harder than guys, you’ve got to admit, the pressure for men to be ripped is real.

Angela Ginn, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Baltimore, Maryland, had the following advice for all there men out there:

“Athletes and exercise fanatics have spent billions of dollars on dietary supplements each year to improve body composition, performance and health. The bottom line is to consume a diet with a variety of nutrients to meet the nutrition needs for optimal performance. The key is to evaluate if the supplement is safe, effective and to make sure it’s not contaminated. Think food first!”  

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