Nutrition Considerations for Female Athletes: Research Summary

Nutrition Considerations for Female Athletes: Research Summary

I try and read strength and conditioning research pretty regularly, mostly because I want to be able to help my clients reach their goals, and I know that reading research will help me learn more about populations I work with.  I also like to read it because it really challenges me and I like the challenge and I like learning knew things.  Ever since I graduated college (a whole year ago!!) one thing I miss is learning new things, especially cool exercise science things! Now, I don't miss being writing research papers, long nights of studying or being crammed in a tiny classroom for an hour because that much sitting is something I can not handle.  But I miss learning, I miss talking about physiology and kinesiology and making sense of how our bodies work and how we can push them to the limits.  I know you probably don't care why I read the research, you just want to know the main points of some pretty cool articles I read, and that's fine too, I'll do the hard work and you can just sit back and soak up some good exercise physiology or sports nutrition knowledge and HOPEFULLY apply it to your own training.

 

The article that caught my attention today was in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, a great journal by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.  They also publish the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which I also read but its more sciency and harder to read so I have to be hyper focused to read it and that's not usually a state where my brain is at especially in the summer.  Anyway, the Article I read was called Nutritional Considerations for Female Athletes and it was written by Guillermo Escalante.

 

 

This article talks about the importance of nutrition for female athletes and the number of health issues that arise when they are not getting the proper nutrition.  It also says that female athletes are more likely to suffer from an eating disorder which can lead to a number of other health problems.  It is so common for this to happen because of the crazy pressure that athletes and women face every day.  This pressure comes from coaches, peers, society and so many other places.  The one point this article made that really stuck was that energy deficit over a period of weeks or months can lead to decreased leptin, estradiol and insulin like growth factor (some hormones) and increase levels of cortisol.  This is a big deal because an imbalance of these hormones can cause anxiety, depression, decreased bone density and lead to so many other problems.  This point really stuck with me because it's not specific to athletes.  The article just says 'energy deficit' which basically means burning more calories than you're consuming. So think about that next time you decide to do some crazy crash diet because you just decided you need to lose 20 pounds.  Now this doesn't mean being in some sort of caloric deficit is bad, because its not especially if your goal is to lose weight.  BUT you need to be eating enough so your body has the energy it needs to work.

 

I know I am an athlete by any means, but I train pretty damn hard and I know a lot of females who do the same.  Even though you are not an athlete and may not be training quite as hard as an athlete does not mean you can survive off of salads and green juices.  So even though this article was written as guidance for female athletes I think many of the information and facts given can be applied to regular, everyday women who workout hard, 5-7 days a week.  My take home point is train hard, but fuel your body with whole, balanced foods because without that you will not reach your goals, you will only put yourself at risk for developing serious medical complications, and then you won't be able to workout, and no one wants that!

Thanks for reading!