Resting Energy Expenditure in Elite Female Athletes of Different Sports

Olivia Di Vincenzo, Maurizio Marra, Delia Morlino, Enza Speranza, Rosa Sammarco, Iolanda Cioffi, Luca Scalfi


An optimal balance between energy intake and energy expenditure is essential for athlete performance, therefore, measuring Resting Energy Expenditure (REE) in athletes might help for providing adequate energy needs. This study aimed to evaluate REE measured with indirect calorimetry in elite female athletes practicing ballet dance, volleyball and swimming and if REE varied among the three sport groups after adjustment for fat-free mass (FFM). Elite female athletes aged 18-35 years who train for at least 16/18 hours per week were recruited. Anthropometry, indirect calorimetry and bioimpedance analysis were performed. Ballet dancers had the lowest FFM and FM in both absolute and percentage values (p<0.05) compared to other athletes. REE was lower in ballet dancers than in volleyball players (REE:1320±139 kcal/die vs. 1538±124 kcal/die, p=0.001) even after adjustment for age. After adjustment for FFM and for both FFM and age, REE was lower in ballet dancers than volleyball players but did not achieve statistical significance. Our study showed that REE in sport is mostly influenced by age and body composition and confirmed that FFM is the major determinant of REE. Further valuations are needed to evaluate if REE could also be influenced by dietary habits as well as by age in which athletes start sport activity.


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