Female exercisers face health risk by not eating enough

New Zealand women who exercise regularly may be risking their health by not eating enough, new research shows.

University of Otago researchers studied 109 female recreational athletes and found that 49 (44 per cent) may be in a state of low energy availability (LEA) or were at increased risk of becoming so over time.

Study lead author Katherine Black says that when insufficient energy intake is combined with exercise, the body acts to conserve energy through a range of hormonal adaptations, which end up harming health.

“Physical activity, sport and exercise are undoubtedly an important part of a healthy lifestyle. However, when energy expenditure during exercise significantly exceeds energy intake, this can cause problems, particularly for bone health and reproductive function,” Dr Black says in a press release.

“We believe it is important to raise awareness of LEA and its potential serious health consequences,” she says.

The study features in the latest International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.


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First published: March 2017

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