This is a really interesting piece of research. The whole article is currently available here, but I'll copy the abstract below.
In an age in which we are still given the impression that a low fat diet is healthy, it is interesting to read this research. The scientists looked at the diets of some female runners and found that fat intake was the best dietary predictor of injury. The less fat you were consuming, the more likely you were to get injured. They discuss some possible explanations for this - e.g. a low fat diet means that you may not be getting enough fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A or K. If you have read this blog much you will appreciate that I am a cholesterol sceptic but this is more evidence that the low fat brigade need to think again. interestingly Dr Eades had a challenging post on cholesterol today :
The take-home message from this study is that you don’t really have to worry about the extra cholesterol you might be getting in your low-carb diet. Your body will deal with it nicely. And if you want to go up on the cholesterol by, say, eating a few more eggs, not only will your body compensate, but it will throw in some extra HDL in the bargain.
Anyway, back to the runners, the conclusion of the study was that:
A lower daily fat intake and lower percentage of total energy from fat were associated with increased injury risk among competitive female runners. Lower Energy intake and lower energy availability approached, but did not reach, a significant association with overuse injury in this study. By documenting these risk factors, it is hoped that future research will continue to investigate their role in injury development, thus leading to better strategies to predict and reduce running injuries in womenDon't drop the fat!
Fat intake and injury in female runners
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. Energy intake and energy availability were not associated with injury in this study.
Fat 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.