Author: 2nd Lt. Miranda Robles, Madigan Dietetic Intern
MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. – When you think of fuel, what comes to mind? Gas? Electricity? How about food? In a modern world that relies on fuel, we typically think of fuel that is used to power communication or transportation. However, food is fuel for our bodies. Food makes energy to power our bodies. It allows our heart to beat, our brain to think, and our bodies to move amongst other things.
Unlike most inanimate factors such as phones, cars, and house lights, our bodies cannot be turned off. In fact, our bodies are always at work and have a constant need for fuel to be healthy and well.
An online search for “ways to improve health" produces results that are largely centered on diet and exercise. There are hundreds of diets that can be found on the internet. Most diets are targeted towards weight loss. Often, these diets will involve some sort of calorie (energy) restriction to achieve weight loss. While some research suggests that reducing energy intake and increasing exercise will lead to weight loss, there are limitations to be mindful of.
Energy availability is the amount of fuel your body needs for it to function properly after it has used fuel for exercise. When exercising and reducing your fuel, it is important to not lower your intake so much that your body goes into a state of low energy availability (LEA). LEA occurs when fuel intake is not enough to meet the energy needed for daily living in addition to exercising.