A Potential Screening Tool for Nutritional Preparedness in Collegiate Level Female Athletes: A Pilot study

Briana Toews, Patricia K. Doyle-Baker


Background: Diet monitoring is part of an athlete’s health and performance assessment, and adequate nutrition is known to be a method that can positively influence the reduction in exercise-induced injury. However, the concept of nutritional preparedness as a screening tool to identify low energy availability for the competitive season is not mainstream practise. Objectives: Our pilot study investigated three aims: 1) changes to nutritional status from the pre-competition phase to the competition phase, 2) living status impact on athlete’s food accessibility, and 3) whether nutritional preparedness in the pre-competition phase influenced the potential for low energy availability during the competition phase. Methods: Female volleyball athletes (N=21, 19-22 yrs., 80% lived off campus) were recruited from 3 universities (Ambrose, Calgary, New Brunswick- Saint John) through social media sites, and word of mouth. Two cross-sectional questionnaires (questions derived from the Short Food Frequency-Q, LEAF-Q, and RED-S screening tool-Q) were administered prior to and during the competitive season. Results: The nutritional assessment score significantly decreased from the pre-competition to competition phase, respectively (n=20, 26.11 ± 4.25; n=12, 20.64 ± 4.74; p=0.022). Many athletes (6/12) reported an injury during the competitive season with an average time loss from sport of 8-14 days. Conclusions: These findings suggest that collegiate female volleyball athletes have a potential for low energy availability, regardless of living status. Future research should build on the nutritional preparedness concept as a method of screening for low energy availability and the influence on injuries sustained during the competition phase.


Nutritional Status, Energy Deficiency, Female, Athletes, Volleyball

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijkss.v.11n.3p.46


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