While each female athlete will face their own unique set of challenges, some common nutritional concerns include low energy availability (LEA) states, insufficient carbohydrate intake, and certain micronutrient deficiencies (iron, vitamin D and calcium). LEA is quantified as the amount of energy that can be used for body functions after accounting for the energy used for exercise. Therefore, when energy intake is insufficient to meet the demands of exercise energy expenditure, body processes (e.g. bone turnover, hormones regulating the menstrual cycle) are impeded. Although competitors in weight-making, aesthetic and endurance sports are most at risk of LEA, other sports (e.g. football) also reveal the presence of LEA. Females from a range of sports also consistently report low carbohydrate intakes. This could be problematic during competitive periods as insufficient glycogen is linked to impaired performance and recovery.
The most common micronutrient deficiencies for female athletes are iron, vitamin D and calcium. Micronutrient deficiencies should be identified via proper screening (iron, vitamin D) and food diary analysis (calcium). There are a range of treatment options for deficiencies depending on the severity, with a food first approach often encouraged. The final challenge for females is a lack of information around whether it is necessary/worthwhile to alter nutrition around the menstrual cycle. Based on surveys, it is estimated that around half of female athletes experience a menstrual cycle. It has been suggested that the physiological alterations that occur in different stages (phases) of the cycle might warrant different nutritional approaches. However, more research is needed before alterations to nutrition can be fully supported.
Join Dr Sam Moss as she discusses the latest research surrounding LEA and looks to the practical implications.
What will I gain from this webinar?
- Understand when LEA occurs and why it is common in female athletes.
- Gain knowledge on the micronutrient deficiencies associated with LEA (iron, vitamin D and calcium).
- Analyse whether nutrition should be altered based on menstrual-cycle phase, given the latest research.
- Lectures 2
- Quizzes 0
- Duration Lifetime access
- Skill level All levels
- Language English
- Students 191
- Certificate Yes
- Assessments Yes