Assessment of energy availability and associated risk factors in professional female soccer players

Eur J Sport Sci. 2021 Jun;21(6):861-870. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2020.1788647. Epub 2020 Aug 6.


This study aimed to assess energy availability (EA), alongside possible risk factors of reduced or low EA of professional female soccer players during a competitive season. Thirteen players (age: 23.7 ± 3.4 y, stature: 1.69 ± 0.08 m, body mass: 63.7 ± 7.0 kg) engaged in a 5-day (two rest days, one light training, heavy training and match day) monitoring period. Energy intake (EI) and expenditure during exercise (EEE) were measured. EA was calculated and categorised as optimal, reduced or low (>45, 30-45, <30 kcal·kg FFM-1·day-1, respectively). Relationships between EA and bone mineral density, resting metabolic rate (RMR), plasma micronutrient status, biochemical markers and survey data were assessed. EA was optimal for 15%, reduced for 62% and low for 23% of players. Higher EA was observed on rest days compared to others (P<0.05). EA was higher for the light compared to the heavy training day (P<0.001). EEE differed significantly between days (P<0.05). EI (2124 ± 444 kcal), carbohydrate (3.31 ± 0.64 g·kg·day-1) and protein (1.83 ± 0.41 g·kg·day-1) intake remained similar (P>0.05). Survey data revealed 23% scored 8 on the Low Energy Availability in Females Questionnaire and met criteria for low RMR (ratio <0.90). Relationships between EA and risk factors were inconclusive. Most players displayed reduced EA and did not alter EI or carbohydrate intake according to training or match demands. Although cases of low EA were identified, further work is needed to investigate possible long-term effects and risk factors of low and reduced EA separately to inform player recommendations.

Keywords: Team sport; health; performance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Basal Metabolism
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Composition
  • Bone Density
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Micronutrients / blood
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / physiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Soccer / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Micronutrients