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Insufficient energy availability can significantly disrupt normal hormonal, metabolic, and physiological processes, prompting the body to initiate a coordinated response aimed at conserving energy.
While commonly viewed as beneficial for weight loss and managing cardiometabolic conditions in the current obesity epidemic, chronic energy deficiency in the context of modern sports and exercise nutrition is linked to adverse health outcomes and diminished athletic performance.
Nevertheless, the evidence regarding the negative impact of energy deficit on physical capacity and sports performance is not entirely clear.
Although severe energy deficiency can impair physical capacity, it’s noteworthy that humans can enhance aerobic fitness and strength even in the presence of significant energy deficits. Strikingly, many elite athletes compete at the highest levels despite displaying evident signs of energy deficiency.
This raises intriguing questions about how the human body adapts to energy deficits, challenging conventional views on the relationship between energy availability and athletic prowess.
To discuss some potential reasons for this ability to maintain peak physical performance while suppressing energetically demanding physiological traits, researcher Dr. Jose Areta of LJMU is on the podcast to discuss his work in this area.
José Areta, PhD
Dr. José Areta currently works as a lecturer in Sports Nutrition and Metabolism at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at LJMU.
José’s primary interest is in the area of training-nutrient interactions in humans. In other words, he investigates how to manipulate ingestion of carbohydrates, fat and protein around training to optimise physical performance and health.
The outputs of his research have not only expanded the knowledge of the field but had significant impact and influence on determining current dietary recommendations and practices world-wide.
His work has provided novel insights in relation to the amount, timing, quantity and distribution of carbohydrates, fat and protein and dietary supplements around training. Over the last few years José has been developing his research in the area of the endocrinological, metabolic and physiological effects of energy restriction, in which he is currently growing his research team and capability.
- Related reading:
- Areta, 2023 – Physical performance during energy deficiency in humans: An evolutionary perspective
- Melin et al., 2023 – Direct and indirect impact of low energy availability on sports performance
- Areta et al., 2021 – Low energy availability: history, definition and evidence of its endocrine, metabolic and physiological effects in prospective studies in females and males
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