Share. Print. Save.
Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Steps to Prevent Athletic Energy Deficit

There are many health benefits associated with regular exercise or athletic competition. You can avoid Athletic Energy Deficit (AED) with these steps:

Step 1: Know the danger

Coaches and parents must realize that persistent Athletic Energy Deficit (AED) can hurt the long term competitive performance of their athletes. Preventable stress fractures make it harder to compete. More importantly, AED poses a danger to bone development and may rob a young child of a healthy adulthood.

AED can affect children as young as five years of age who compete in club level sports, but without the same warning signs. With younger children, it is even more important to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy competition and eating — and instill good training habits early.

Step 2: Educate young athletes

Early, frequent and open discussions with athletes about the relationship between AED and poor bone development are important. Coaches can introduce the subject to their entire team in a group setting with help from sports dietitians, team doctors or volunteer medical professionals who familiar with the syndrome. Parents are urged to talk to their children about their level of sports activity, proper nutrition and the relationship to strong bone development.

clararun01-iloveimg-convertedStep 3: Watch for signs of a problem

Early recognition is essential. For girls, amenorrhea is the only definitive symptom of this serious potential problem. Occasional “missed” menstrual periods can occur normally in some young girls. Concern is appropriate if a young athlete has not started her first menstrual period by age 15, or has missed several consecutive menstrual periods. Either of these scenarios should prompt parents to consult a doctor.

Step 4: Prevention

The goal to preventing AED is to maintain positive energy balance by consuming enough nutrition to offset the energy expended during physical activity. Research shows that consuming adequate carbohydrates and proteins within 20–30 minutes of strenuous athletic activity will help replenish the body and prevent AED. The diet needs to include adequate macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat) and the essential micronutrients, including the bone and blood building nutrients (e.g. calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin D) and B-vitamins required for energy metabolism (vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, biotin, and patothenic acid).

Posted: 9/29/2016; Revised: 02/19/20. 

As a service to our readers, American Bone Health provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of the last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician

Subscribe & Follow
Stay up to date on events & the latest in bone health

Calculate Your Risk

The American Bone Health Fracture Risk Calculator™ estimates fracture risk for women and men over age 45.

Related Articles