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Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, and Energy Restricted Diets in Female Athletes

School of Medicine, Department of Nutrition, Case Western Reserve University, WG 48, 2109 Aldebert Rd., Cleveland, OH 44106-4954, USA
School of Biological and Population Sciences, Nutrition and Exercise Science, Oregon State University, 103 Milam Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Beat Knechtle
Sports 2016, 4(4), 50;
Received: 22 August 2016 / Revised: 2 October 2016 / Accepted: 8 October 2016 / Published: 21 October 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sport Nutrition for Health and Performance)
PDF [219 KB, uploaded 21 October 2016]


Female athletes who follow a diet that fails to meet energy and nutrient needs are at risk for musculoskeletal injuries, menstrual disturbances, and poor sports performance. Common nutritional concerns for the female athlete include low energy availability (EA) (i.e., energy intake from food remaining for metabolic processes after accounting for energy expended during exercise) and inadequate dietary intakes (i.e., not meeting sports nutrition guidelines) of carbohydrates, protein, essential fatty acids (EFAs), B-vitamins, calcium, iron, and vitamin D. Low EA and the associated nutrient deficiencies are more common in athletes who compete in weight-sensitive sports (i.e., aesthetic, gravitational, and weight category sports) because low body fat and mass confer a competitive advantage. Other athletes at risk for energy and nutrient deficits include athletes following a vegetarian or gluten-free diet (GFD). Careful dietary planning can help an athlete meet energy and nutrient needs. This review covers the nutrition issues associated with low EA and special diets (i.e., vegetarian and GFD) and describes strategies to help female athletes meet their energy and nutrient needs. View Full-Text
Keywords: energy availability; bone health; amenorrhea; sports performance; disordered eating; active females energy availability; bone health; amenorrhea; sports performance; disordered eating; active females
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 (CC BY 4.0).

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Cialdella-Kam, L.; Kulpins, D.; Manore, M.M. Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, and Energy Restricted Diets in Female Athletes. Sports 2016, 4, 50.

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