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Low energy availability: history, definition and evidence of its endocrine, metabolic and physiological effects in prospective studies in females and males

Areta, JL, Taylor, HL and Koehler, K (2020) Low energy availability: history, definition and evidence of its endocrine, metabolic and physiological effects in prospective studies in females and males. European Journal of Applied Physiology. ISSN 1439-6319

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Abstract

Energy availability (EA) is defined as the amount of dietary energy available to sustain physiological function after subtracting the energetic cost of exercise. Insufficient EA due to increased exercise, reduced energy intake, or a combination of both, is a potent disruptor of the endocrine milieu. As such, EA is conceived as a key etiological factor underlying a plethora of physiological dysregulations described in the female athlete triad, its male counterpart and the Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport models. Originally developed upon female-specific physiological responses, this concept has recently been extended to males, where experimental evidence is limited. The majority of data for all these models are from cross-sectional or observational studies where hypothesized chronic low energy availability (LEA) is linked to physiological maladaptation. However, the body of evidence determining causal effects of LEA on endocrine, and physiological function through prospective studies manipulating EA is comparatively small, with interventions typically lasting ≤ 5 days. Extending laboratory-based findings to the field requires recognition of the strengths and limitations of current knowledge. To aid this, this review will: (1) provide a brief historical overview of the origin of the concept in mammalian ecology through its evolution of algebraic calculations used in humans today, (2) Outline key differences from the ‘energy balance’ concept, (3) summarise and critically evaluate the effects of LEA on tissues/systems for which we now have evidence, namely: hormonal milieu, reproductive system endocrinology, bone metabolism and skeletal muscle; and finally (4) provide perspectives and suggestions for research upon identified knowledge gaps.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1106 Human Movement and Sports Sciences
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Publisher: Springer
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2020 14:24
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2020 14:30
DOI or Identification number: 10.1007/s00421-020-04516-0
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14136

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