Men who take unnecessary amounts of workout supplements, such as protein bars and powders, may experience eating disorders, according to a new study conducted by Alliant International University researchers.

In a study presented at the 123rd Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (APA) on Thursday, Alliant researchers discovered that out of the 195 male participants in their research, around 29 percent said that they were concerned about the effects of their use of workout supplements.

An additional eight percent of the participants claimed that their doctor had told them to lessen their intake of the supplements or to cease their use entirely, while three percent said that they had already been hospitalized because of kidney and liver issues caused by their use of such workout supplements.

Lead researcher Richard Achiro of Alliant's California School of Professional Psychology said that these gentlemen use workout supplements in such a hazardous way in order to effect change to their bodies.

Achiro said that the findings show that what health experts initially believed to be eating-disorder behaviors is significantly overlapping with the abusive intake of workout supplements.

During the study, the researchers observed [pdf] the participants, between 18 and 65 years old, who took over-the-counter workout supplements 30 days prior. Achiro said that these men were not bodybuilders but did workout at least twice every week.

The men were then asked to answer an online survey featuring questions about their intake of workout supplements. The survey also asked about the participants' body image, self-esteem and even their insecurities about their own masculinity.

Achiro and his colleagues found that there was a considerable overlap between the excessive supplement use of the participants and the eating disorder symptoms that they experience. These symptoms include being concerned about what food to eat or placing restrictions on their eating habits.

Forty percent of the participants said that their intake of workout supplements increased over time.

The abusive use of workout supplements on the men's part was heavily influenced by several factors, such as low self-esteem, displeasure with their bodies and a belief that they were not to meet the social standards of being masculine.

"Historically, it was women's bodies that were objectified more in the media, but men's bodies are catching up, and they are being more often objectified in the media," Achiro said.

Photo: Elvert Barnes | Flickr 

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