Kelsie Larson ’14

Energy Availability, Lean Body Mass and Resting Metabolic Rate in Female Collegiate Distance Runners

Female athlete triad occurs two to three times more often in sports that emphasize leanness, such as distance running.  Athletes with female athlete triad experience low energy availability, amenorrhea, and loss of bone density (Javed, 2013).  Low energy availability may be intentional to enhance performance, pathological (eating disorder), or unintentional when caloric intake fails to meet energy expenditure (Gibbs, 2013).

Purpose: To determine energy availability in female runners from pre-season, peak and post-season and measure changes in resting metabolic rate (RMR) and lean body mass (LBM).  

Methods:  IRB approval and informed consents were obtained from 31 collegiate cross-country runners.  Initial surveys of Eating Attitudes Test (Eat-26) were completed to determine risk for eating disorders.  LBM (measured using bioelectrical impedance), resting metabolic rate (measured using Medgem), and three-day diet records were collected pre, peak, and post season.  Participants tracked their exercise weekly. Diet records were analyzed using Supertracker. Data was analyzed using paired t-test and Pearson's bivariate correlation test.

Results: 30 runners scored less than 20 points on the EAT-26 survey, indicating low risk for an eating disorder. EAT-26 scores negatively correlated with both caloric intake (p=.021) and calories/kg LBM (p=.032).  RMR significantly increased on average from pre-season (1159 Cals) to post-season (1443 Cals) (p<.001). No significant change in caloric intake (2469-2420 Cals), LBM (100.6 kg) and calories/kg LBM (53.8-53.1) occurred from pre- to post season. However, calories/kg LBM (53.8-55.5) significantly increased from pre to peak season.    

 Conclusions: The incidence of eating disorders in cross-country runners has been reported as high as 19%; in this study only one (3%) had an EAT-26 score suggesting high risk (Thompson, 2007). This population appeared to be consuming sufficient Calories to maintain energy balance as evidenced by increases in RMR over the course of the season. 

Kelsie Larson presented her research at the Northland Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine March 28, 2014.

To view Poster, click on link below: 
Energy Availability, Lean Body Mass and Resting Metabolic Rate in Female Collegiate Distance Runners

Research Advisor: Amy Olson, PhD, RDN, LD and Manuel Campos PhD, Biology