Our purpose was to determine the relationship between energy intake, energy availability, dietary fat and lower extremity injury in adult female runners. We hypothesized that runners who develop overuse running-related injuries have lower energy intakes, lower energy availability and lower fat intake compared to non-injured runners.
Eighty-six female subjects, running a minimum of 20 miles/week, completed a food frequency questionnaire and informed us about injury incidence over the next year.
Injured runners had significantly lower intakes of total fat (63 ± 20 vs. 80 ± 50 g/d) and percentage of kilocalories from fat (27 ± 5 vs. 30 ± 8 %) compared with non-injured runners. A logistic regression analysis found that fat intake was the best dietary predictor, correctly identifying 64% of future injuries. Lower energy intake and lower energy availability approached, but did not reach, a significant association with overuse injury in this study.
ConclusionFat intake is likely associated with injury risk in female runners. By documenting these associations, better strategies can be developed to reduce running injuries in women.
Bottom line: if you run, you need to eat! Female runners take heed, eat more protein and fat!