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12-months of increased dietary intake does not exacerbate disordered eating-related attitudes, stress, or depressive symptoms in women with exercise-associated menstrual disturbances: the REFUEL randomized controlled trial
Disordered eating-related attitudes are a leading cause of energy deficiency and menstrual disturbances in exercising women. Although treatment recommendations include psychological counseling with increases in dietary intake, a key concern is whether increased dietary intake may exacerbate negative eating behaviors.
Objective: To determine the effects of a 12-month nutritional intervention on eating-related attitudes and psychological characteristics in exercising women with oligomenorrhea/amenorrhea (Oligo/Amen).
Methods: Intent-to-treat analysis of the REFUEL randomized controlled trial (#NCT00392873) in 113 exercising women (age [mean±SEM]:] 21.9±0.4 yrs; BMI: 20.9±0.2 kg/m2). Women were randomized to increase energy intake 20-40% above baseline energy needs (Oligo/Amen+Cal, n=40) or maintain energy intake (Oligo/Amen Control, n=36) while maintaining their exercise behaviors. A reference group of ovulatory women (OVref, n=37) maintained diet and exercise behaviors. Body composition, eating behavior, stress, and depressive symptoms were assessed at baseline and every 3 months.
Results: At baseline, the Oligo/Amen groups had higher drive for thinness, cognitive restraint, and eating disorder risk than OVref group (p<0.001). Increased energy intake led to increases in percent body fat and fat mass (p<0.010), but not psychobehavioral outcomes, in the Oligo/Amen+Cal compared to Oligo/Amen Control group. Independent of group, cognitive restraint decreased (p<0.001) and resilient coping increased (p<0.007) over 12-months, while perceived stress (p=0.143) and depressive symptoms (p=0.344) were unchanged.
Discussion: Long-term nutritional intervention consisting of modest increases in dietary intake with guidance from a registered dietician and a psychologist increases body and fat mass without increasing disordered eating-related attitudes, stress, or depressive symptoms in exercising women with Oligo/Amen.
U.S. Department of Defense: PR054531
- Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences
- AM (Accepted Manuscript)
Rights holder© Elsevier
Publisher statementThis paper was accepted for publication in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2023.106079