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J Sports Sci. 2013;31(3):314-24. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2012.733019. Epub 2012 Oct 18.

Changes in energy availability across the season in Division I female soccer players.

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Department of Kinesiology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA.


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 [Vdot]O(2max): 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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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