Overtraining syndrome (OTS) is caused by an imbalance between training, nutrition and resting, and leads to decreased performance and fatigue; however, the precise underlying triggers of OTS remain unclear. This study investigated the body composition, metabolism, eating, sleeping patterns and mood states among participants with OTS. Selected participants were divided into OTS-affected athletes (OTS, n = 14), healthy athletes (ATL, n = 25), and healthy non-physically active controls (NCS, n = 12). Compared to ATL, OTS showed decreased sleep quality (p = 0.004); increased duration of work or study (p < 0.001); decreased libido (p = 0.024); decreased calorie (p < 0.001), carbohydrate (p < 0.001) and protein (p < 0.001) intakes; decreased mood states (p < 0.001); decreased basal metabolic rate (p = 0.013) and fat burning (p < 0.001); increased body fat (p = 0.006); decreased muscle mass (p = 0.008); and decreased hydration (p < 0.001). Levels were similar between OTS and NCS, except for worsened fatigue (p < 0.001) and vigour (p = 0.001) in OTS. Reduced calorie intake, worsened sleep, and increased cognitive activity are likely OTS triggers. OTS appears to induce dehydration, increase body fat, decrease libido, and worsen mood.
Keywords: Overtraining syndrome; sports endocrinology; sports nutrition; sports performance; sports psychology.