What is Energy Availability

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Understanding Energy Availability

Energy availability (EA) measures the difference between energy intake and exercise energy expenditure relative to fat-free mass (FFM). Here's a simpler breakdown:

  • If you have 70 kg of FFM, consume 3,000 kcal/day, and burn 750 kcal through exercise, you have an EA of about 32 kcal/kg of FFM.
  • When energy intake doesn't cover both exercise and basic physiological functions, it leads to a state called low energy availability (LEA). This can mess with hormones and body functions.

EA vs. Energy Balance

  • EA focuses on energy intake versus exercise energy expenditure for maintaining bodily functions.
  • Energy balance considers all energy expenditure factors, including exercise, resting metabolism, and food digestion.

What the Study Showed

  • The study looked at how LEA affects muscle health and overall body function, including hormone levels.
  • LEA happens when there's not enough energy intake or too much exercise. It can mess with hormones and body functions.
  • For women, LEA is usually when EA drops below 30 kcal per kg of FFM per day.
  • Athletes in sports that focus on appearance or weight classes are more likely to have LEA.

Effects of LEA on Health

  • Prolonged LEA can lead to health and performance issues, like bone loss and hormone imbalances.
  • A study found that LEA reduces muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which is crucial for muscle repair and growth.
  • Contrary to a previous study, this one found that even with extra protein and exercise, LEA still leads to muscle loss.

Advice for Athletes

  • Female athletes should avoid prolonged LEA below 30 kcal per kg of FFM per day.
  • However, not everyone will have problems at this threshold.
  • Different athletes may have different effects from LEA, like menstrual issues or hormone changes.

Final Notes

  • The study didn't adjust for multiple comparisons, which means some results might not be accurate.
  • So, while LEA can affect muscle health, each person's response may vary.

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