Energy Availability Over One Athletic Season: An Observational Study Among Athletes From Different Sports

Filipe Jesus, Mónica Sousa, Catarina L Nunes, Ruben Francisco, Paulo Rocha, Cláudia S Minderico, Luís B Sardinha, Analiza M Silva

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4 Citations (Scopus)


During the athletic season, changes in body composition occur due to fluctuations in energy expenditure and energy intake. Literature regarding changes of energy availability (EA) is still scarce. The aim was to estimate EA of athletes from nonweight and weight-sensitive sports during the athletic season (i.e., preparatory and competitive phase). Eighty-eight athletes (19.1 ± 4.2 years, 21.8 ± 2.0 kg/m2, 27% females, self-reported eumenorrheic) from five sports (basketball [n = 29]; handball [n = 7]; volleyball [n = 9]; swimming [n = 18]; and triathlon [n = 25]) were included in this observational study. Energy intake and exercise energy expenditure were measured through doubly labeled water (over 7 days and considering neutral energy balance) and metabolic equivalents of tasks, respectively. Fat-free mass (FFM) was assessed through a four-compartment model. EA was calculated as EA = (energy intake - exercise energy expenditure)/FFM. Linear mixed models, adjusted for sex, were performed to assess EA for the impact of time by sport interaction. Among all sports, EA increased over the season: basketball, estimated mean (SE): 7.2 (1.5) kcal/kg FFM, p < .001; handball, 14.8 (2.9) kcal/kg FFM, p < .001; volleyball, 7.9 (2.8) kcal/kg FFM, p = .006; swimming, 8.7 (2.0) kcal/kg FFM, p < .001; and triathlon, 9.6 (2.0) kcal/kg FFM, p < .001. Eleven athletes (12.5%) had clinical low EA at the preparatory phase and none during the competitive phase. During both assessments, triathletes' EA was below optimal, being lower than basketballers (p < .001), volleyballers (p < .05), and swimmers (p < .001). Although EA increased in all sports, triathlon's EA was below optimal during both assessments. Risk of low EA might be seasonal and resolved throughout the season, with higher risk during the preparatory phase. However, in weight-sensitive sports, namely triathlon, low EA is still present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479 - 490
Number of pages12
JournalInternational journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism
Issue number6
Early online date13 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022


  • bone mineral density
  • RED-S
  • resting energy expenditure


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