Low energy availability (LEA) is considered to be the underlying cause of a number of maladaptations in athletes, including impaired physiological function, low bone mineral density (BMD), and hormonal dysfunction. This is collectively referred to as ‘Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport’ (RED-S). LEA is calculated through assessment of dietary energy intake (EI), exercise energy expenditure (EEE) and fat-free mass (FFM). The incidence of LEA in Paralympic athletes is relatively unknown; however, there are legitimate concerns that Para athletes may be at even higher risk of LEA than able-bodied athletes. Unfortunately, there are numerous issues with the application of LEA assessment tools and the criterion for diagnosis within the context of a Para population. The calculation of EEE, in particular, is limited by a distinct lack of published data that cover a range of impairments and activities. In addition, for several RED-S-related factors, it is difficult to distinguish whether they are truly related to LEA or a consequence of the athlete’s impairment and medical history. This narrative review outlines deficits and complexities when assessing RED-S and LEA in Para athletes, presents the information that we do have, and provides suggestions for future progress in this important area of sports nutrition.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited