Low energy availability – and how to combat it

In this episode of the Food Matters Live podcast, we dive deep into the critical topic of fuelling the bodies of athletes, with a particular focus on female athletes.

In previous episodes, we have emphasised the importance of achieving the correct nutritional balance, and explored the lack of research regarding the nutritional requirements of female athletes.

But now, we are taking a more in-depth look at a specific issue that looms large in the realm of sports nutrition – low energy availability.

Low energy availability (LEA), affects both male and female athletes, but its impact can be especially pronounced among sportswomen. So, what exactly is low energy availability, and why does it deserve our attention?

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LEA can have a significant impact on an athlete’s overall performance and health. It is a complex area, with dietary choices, energy expenditure, and physiological functions all having a role to play.

Understanding how low energy availability relates to nutrition is essential for athletes and their support teams. Inadequate energy intake can lead to reduced muscle strength, impaired recovery, hormonal imbalances, and increased risk of injuries.

In this episode, we delve into the intricacies of low energy availability, explore its causes, consequences, and most importantly, how it can be prevented and managed through proper nutrition strategies.

Renee McGregor, Sports Dietitian, Author and Co-founder of TRAINBRAVE

Renee is a leading Sports and Eating disorder specialist dietitian with 20 years of experience working in clinical and performance nutrition.

She’s worked with athletes across the globe including supporting Olympic (London, 2012), Paralympic (Rio, 2016)and Commonwealth (Queensland, 2018) teams.

Renee is the Nutrition Lead for English and Scottish National Ballet, providing nutritional and clinical guidance for both performance and health.

She is passionate about female athletes and their health and regularly provides expert commentary on understanding how the body works, optimising hormonal health and how this impacts our performance.

Renee is also a best-selling author of five books, including Training Food and Orthorexia, When Health Eating Goes Bad, and her new book, More Fuel You.

Illustration of female athlete in black and white running along a green track with yellow, pink and orange orbs in the background

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Low energy availability – and how to combat it