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Many Female Athletes Need to Eat More

For the most part, sports nutrition science is bro-science. That’s because the vast majority of studies to date have focused on men, leaving active women to assume the same results apply to them. But that is slowly changing.

Case in point: A report in the Strength and Conditioning Journal calls out the dangers to female athletes of low energy availability (LEA) when calorie intake is too low to support training. LEA can lead to poor recovery and performance, changes in hormone levels, and, potentially, loss of menstruation.

The study findings show a reported prevalence of LEA ranging from 2% among regular gym-goers to 77% in professional ballet dancers. Causes include intended calorie restriction for performance or aesthetic reasons, increased training loads, changes in appetite across a menstrual cycle, and a lack of knowledge on how to properly fuel a body in motion.

Trainers need to become better aware of the signs of LEA and then work with female athletes to implement effective fueling strategies for training and performance.

2 Comments

  1. Julia Gurule on December 4, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    I’m 71 yrs. old and I exercise twice/week at a gym and I swim with the Master’s Program three times/week. We swim actual sets, no recreational swim. I’ve noticed problems with endurance and energy as I’ve aged. Any diet advice for someone my age? Thank you.

    • Janet on January 2, 2022 at 11:46 am

      Hi Julia! Swimming is amazing, kudo’s to you! As far as energy, you may want to check your B vitamin intake, also make sure you are drinking more then enough water with electrolytes. You also need lots of salt, it is an electrolyte & use the non-processed salt. Potassium & magnesium really help, I like to drink a warm cup of water with Blackstrap molasses to get that, I think it’s good after I get past that iron-tasting first sip and it gives me a jolt of energy after drinking it. Do you take iodine & selenium? That will help too. Did you know that chloride (or bromide) that they use in swimming pools may be robbing you of iodine?

      As far as diet, are you eating enough? And maybe you might want to look into ketosis, burning fat for fuel. Keto is a diet that has been around since the early 1900’s. It is not a fad as it was used for epilepsy. It is about high fat, moderate protein and low carbs. It is THEE best for our aging brains, and by becoming a fat burner you will have more energy. I like to cycle KetoFasting/Keto diet/Feast days. (If you want to know more, I believe that Dr. Mercola has a wealth of information on how to do that.)

      Most important: Stay away from sugar, or anything that will raise your insulin levels.

      I am not selling/endorsing anything, but I do find that when I use the free app, Cronometer.com, I can keep track of my vitamins, minerals, and keto. You set it up (easy to do) add your foods and all of the information is calculated for you. It looks complicated but it’s pretty easy and you get tons of information. It’s where I found out how deficient in vitamins I was, esp. B vitamins, and it made a difference in my energy levels when I supplemented with them. It also does a Keto diet or cycles the macros independently if you want to do cycling with higher carb days. But of course, you can do this on your own! LOL. Keto is 20-50 grams of carbs in your died.

      Personally, doing straight keto was great for my mind but I needed some variety. I am 57, very active, almost underweight & a very low bodyfat. Other then trying to gain a few pounds, I feel fantastic after changing my diet and vitamin intake. I shoot for 11 glasses of water a day, and that is not easy to do but it makes me feel so much better if I can at least get close to that.

      Best of luck to you and keep up the phenomenal work!
      Janet

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