Female Athlete Nutrition
Saswata Subhadarsini provides an insight into nutrition for female athletes.
The main nutritional problem for today's female athletes is insufficient food intake. As a result of their inability to consume enough calories to meet the physical challenges of training, these athletes are at increased risk for developing eating disorders, osteoporosis and amenorrhea, referred to as the female athlete triad. This analysis looks at the nutritional problems of female athletes, how to identify individuals who are at risk, the link between energy consumption and menstrual issues, and newly discovered chronic illnesses.
It is simple. The body expends energy via everyday activities and exercises, and this energy is replaced by food and beverages. Energy balance occurs when the quantity of energy wasted in a day nearly equals the amount received.
It may appear straightforward, but adolescent bodies and lifestyles, particularly those of girls, are frequently in a state of fast and unforeseen changes. Add in a slew of other variables that might make maintaining a healthy energy intake and nutrition challenging.
Want to know about some of the challenges? Here are a few of them: take a closer look.
Unaccounted-for increases in nutritional requirement
Young girls gain weight and so require more calories to sustain their energy balance as they mature. This is because their body mass is expanding. Also, the nutritional intake of girls who participate in sports may not consider the increased physical activity that occurs during practice.
Young female athletes burn more calories the harder they exercise, but they do not always consume more to account for the increased activity. Constantly changing bodies and routines mean that dietary practices that were once sufficient may no longer be.
Pressure to be slim or thin, whether perceived or genuine
Having distorted perceptions about body size can cause significant nutritional deficiencies. Women's sports and athletics are plagued by clinical eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. However, the most prevalent nutritional concern is ingesting insufficient calories to maintain maximum productivity and fitness. Nutritional deficiencies and abnormal eating habits are not usually evident.
Young and mature adolescents may eat insufficiently or have other dietary attitudes or practices that prevent them from achieving energy balance. Dieting under the guise of vegetarianism, taking diet pills, or exercising obsessively to reach a low weight are just a few examples.
A lack of dietary understanding or ignorance
Whether it is economics, literature, or health class, youngsters may thrive in all these areas. Nevertheless, several teenagers and youngsters face trouble creating a well-coordinated and realistic plan to attain adequate nutrition.
Parents may also lack particular dietary expertise, or you may ignore their recommendations and plans. Young athletes cannot frequently distinguish between reliable sources of nutritional guidance and speculative or incorrect information.
Furthermore, well-intentioned teenagers may adopt the eating habits of overweight, sedentary family members or friends - habits that may not function well for a developing, energetic teen.
You do not want to be slow and unhealthy - if you wish to become a world-class athlete or win an Olympic medal in that case!
Vegetarianism and other dietary restrictions
Young athletes may opt to eat vegetarian, limit carbohydrates, or adhere to other dietary restrictions. Unfortunately, they may not have a strategy in place to replace essential nutrients like protein, calcium, iron, and Vitamin B-12. Due to these constraints, it is challenging to consume adequate calories and vital nutrients, especially when energy requirements are raised because of physical activity.
Trouble with anticipating food requirements
After practice, you may head off to a late-game and eat hot dogs from a nearby food stand. You can even wind up engaging in some online fun like sports betting UK for hours with nothing to eat. Lunch at school is bland and unappealing, so it goes untouched. It is difficult for anybody to prepare ahead for dietary needs on a busy and chaotic day, and adolescents are no exception.
Three crucial pointers for female athletes
Getting enough protein
Fear of gaining large, bulky muscles causes some female athletes to cut back on protein consumption. However, simply eating enough protein will not do this. Women will build lean, powerful muscles unless they actively work out to bulk up, but this still requires enough protein.
Female athletes must take between 20 and 40 gms of good quality protein around 30 to 45 minutes of completing a workout for optimal effect. A handy method to obtain that protein is with a post-workout smoothie. Plant-based supplies, such as soy, or dairy-based sources, such as casein or whey, can be used to make it.
Do not go on a calorie-restricted diet
Athletes use a lot of energy for training and require enough nourishment to fuel and recuperate from their activity. Their productivity, performance, general health and well-being will suffer if they ingest fewer calories than they expend during the activity.
This is particularly critical for female athletes: excessive calorie restriction might result in the Female athlete triad.
Water and female athlete's performance in sports
Any athlete's performance can be hampered by dehydration, and if it gets too excessive, it may result in breakdown or even death. It is vital to drink lots of fluids beforehand, throughout, and after any exercise. Do not wait till you are thirsty to get some water. Fluid intake is especially crucial for activities that run longer than 60 minutes, are high-intensity, or are held in hot weather.
Although water is a good choice, sports drinks may be necessary, particularly in endurance activities or hot weather. Sports beverages include a small amount of salt, which aids in absorption. A sports diet with a salt level of 30 mmol/L is likely enough.
It is no longer recommended to take salt pills to relieve muscular cramps. The muscular tissue is affected by a loss of water rather than a deficiency of sodium. Zinc or magnesium deficiency might also be the cause of persistent muscular cramps.
Do you want to take dietary supplements?
A balanced diet with proper planning will provide you with the right nutrients. Supplements are only helpful if your diet is deficient or has an actual deficit, such as calcium or iron. No proof suggests vitamin supplements help athletic performance.
A vast range of goods, including pills, tablets, capsules, powders, and liquids, are included in nutritional supplements.
But before that, it is vital to think about what else you can do to boost your performance before utilising supplements. Supplementing with vitamins and minerals can also be hazardous.
Note: Under no circumstances should you use supplements without speaking to a certified medical or health practitioner first. Instead of utilising a supplement or tablet, it is preferable to correct nutritional imbalances by analysing and changing your diet.
It is also crucial to note that using supplements puts you in danger of breaking anti-doping rules, regardless of what level of sport you participate in. And you do not want to step into that zone.
Your sporting career will be doomed before you even start!
Knowledge is Power
Educating yourself is one of the most effective methods to ensure that your calorie and nutritional intakes remain healthy. Families, trainers, licensed dietitians, sports nutritionists, or other health care experts can assist and advise girls. Young female athletes must understand the following essential facts in addition to understanding the fundamentals of a good diet and energy stability.
The sports and nutrition industry's approach to female athlete's problems
The public and the business are both coming to understand that a container or a package cannot be merely coloured pink or sized down and then be called a women's product.
While most sports nutrition remains the same for men and women, there is no information about female sports nourishment. Many researchers avoid using women as study subjects because of menstruation, hormonal changes, and the variance in long-term studies. Due to the prevalence of this method, the majority of sports nutrition research is conducted on male participants and athletes. The sports industry, on the other hand, is discovering ways to operate around it. Indeed, it is more complex, but we must do this to comprehend the unique requirements of female athletes. Finally, significant issues are being voiced.
It is high time that female athletes and their concerns are raised. So that appropriate solutions and methods pertaining exclusively to female athletes can be found out.
Lastly, here are a few pointers to keep in mind
Any type of lifestyle change is complex, and it will have its drawbacks. A support network of some kind is a key element of the trip, whether you are a pro athlete or somebody looking to get fit and healthy.
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About the Author
Saswata Subhadarsini is a nutrition and science specialist with a passion for spreading awareness on proper nutrition simply and concisely and the capacity to translate complicated scientific knowledge into easily understandable concepts. She focuses mainly on women's food and promotes a healthy body and mind via a combination of ancient culinary wisdom and current nutritional research. She wishes to encourage women and female athletes to live healthier lives through her articles and blogs.