To date, no research has explored the effects of low energy availability on cognitive performance using dietary and exercise regimens relevant to athletes. Twenty female participants (10 eumenorrheic, 10 oral contraceptive [OC] users) completed three 3-day conditions: 1) controlled-balanced energy availability without exercise (BAL; 45 kcal·kg lean body mass [LBM] 1·day 1); 2) diet-induced low energy availability without exercise (DIET; 15 kcal·kg LBM 1·day 1); and 3) exercise-induced low energy availability (EX; 15 kcal·kg LBM 1·day 1, including 30 kcal·kg LBM 1·day 1 treadmill running at 70% maximal oxygen uptake). A cognitive test battery was completed before and after each 3-day condition. Mental rotation test accuracy improved in the BAL condition, but there was a decline in accuracy in the EX condition (BAL, +2.5%; EX, 1.4%; P = 0.042, d = 0.85). DIET (+1.3%) was not different to BAL or EX (P > 0.05). All other measures of cognitive performance were not affected by condition (P > 0.05) and OC use did not affect cognitive responses (P > 0.05). Accuracy in the mental rotation test was impaired when low energy availability was induced through increased exercise energy expenditure. All other aspects of cognition were unaffected by 3 days of low energy availability through diet or exercise. OC use did not mediate the effect of low energy availability on cognition. Novelty: Cognitive function was not affected by 3 days of diet-induced low energy availability. Only spatial awareness was impaired during 3 days of exercise-induced low energy availability. Reproductive hormones affected spatial awareness independent of energy availability.
- Energy availability
- Oral contraceptives