Prevalence of Low Energy Availability in Female Collegiate Athletes

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Atlanta, GA

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Participants will be able to classify female athletes at risk for low energy availability. Not consuming adequate calories to support energy expenditure is a common problem among female athletes that negatively impacts both performance and health. Energy availability (EA) is the amount of dietary energy remaining after physical training that is available to support physiological functions. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the prevalence of low EA and other risk factors for the female athlete triad in female collegiate track athletes (n=35). Caloric intake was assessed using an online 3-day diet history. Average daily energy intake was 2171 kcals ±598 kcals. Body composition was calculated using skinfolds. Average body fat percentage was 22.3 % ± 3.35%. Energy expenditure was calculated using Actigraph’s GT3X triaxial accelerometer, and the 2011 compendium for physical activities. Average daily energy expenditure was 711.52 kcals ± 524 kcals. We computed an index of daily EA by dividing EA by kilogram of lean body mass (LBM). The average energy availability was 30.79 kcals/kg LBM. No participants had an EA index of >45 indicating optimal EA. 55% of participants had an EA index <30, a level previously associated with changes in reproductive and bone health. Participants with EA index <30 had more risk factors for the female athlete triad compared to those with a higher EA index. Differences in risk factors were observed by event and year in school. Low EA was common in this population of female collegiate track athletes. Prevention strategies are warranted and should address the underlying causes of EA deficits in this population.

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