Low energy availability [(energy intake - exercise expenditure)/kg lean body mass], a component of the Female Athlete Triad, has been associated with menstrual disturbances and low bone mass. No studies have examined the energy availability of athletes across a season. The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of, and what contributes to, low energy availability in Division I female soccer players across a season. Nineteen participants aged 18-21 years (mean VO2max: 57.0 ± 1.0 mL · kg-1 · min-1) were studied during the pre, mid, and post season. Mean energy availability was overall lowest at mid season, and lower at mid than post season (35.2 ± 3.7 vs. 44.5 ± 3.7 kcal · kg-1 lean body mass, P = 0.009). Low energy availability (<30 kcal · kg-1 lean body mass) was observed in 5/19 (26.3%), 5/15 (33.3%), and 2/17 (11.8%) of participants during the pre, mid, and post season. Dietary energy intake was lower mid (P = 0.008) and post season (P = 0.022) than it was pre season (pre: 2794 ± 233 kcal · day-1; mid: 2208 ± 156 kcal · day-1; post: 2161 ± 143 kcal · day-1). Exercise energy expenditure decreased significantly (P ≤ 0.001) over time (pre: 819 ± 57 kcal · day-1; mid: 642 ± 26 kcal · day-1; post: 159 ± 28 kcal · day-1). Low energy availability was due to lower dietary energy intake at lunch during pre season (P = 0.014) and during lunch and dinner during mid season (P ≤ 0.030). Energy availability was inversely related to body dissatisfaction (r = -0.62, P = 0.017) and drive for thinness (r = -0.55, P = 0.041) during mid season. Although most Division I female soccer players are not at risk for low energy availability, a concerning proportion exhibited low energy availability at pre or mid season. Further studies are needed to explore strategies to prevent and monitor low energy availability in these athletes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation