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Home > Blog > Sports Nutrition Tips For Female Athletes

Sports Nutrition Tips for Female Athletes

By: Dana Yarn, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Certified Fitness Trainer

Sports Nutrition Tips for Female Athletes

Hydration. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of PLAIN water daily.  Even the slightest dehydration will hinder your performance, slowing down reaction time and coordination.  Staying hydrated helps nutrients travel to muscles and vital organs and naturally detoxifies your body daily. 

Don't fear fat.  Healthy fats actually help maintain lean muscle mass, increase your ability to focus and curb cravings for junk foods.  Healthy fats include natural peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, nuts, seeds, avocados, hummus, guacamole, coconut oil, and olive oil to name a few.  Include a serving of healthy fat at all meals and most snacks. 

Avoid excess sugar.  Sugar especially from processed sources like candy, juice, sodas, coffee specialty drinks, cookies, pastries, etc. will cause a rise and fall of energy due to spikes and lows of blood sugars.  Excess sugar can hurt your ability to maintain a healthy body fat percentage as well as your ability to focus during meets, games, matches, and practice.  Sugar should be consumed mainly from natural sources like fruits, moderate amounts of honey, and coconut water.

Include a source of protein at all meals and most snacks.  Protein is essential to muscle recovery and repair in all athletes.  Protein will also keep your appetite under control.  Healthy sources of protein include eggs, fish, chicken, beef, dairy, protein powder, and beans. 

Eat a recovery snack or meal including protein and carbohydrates within one-hour of finishing a practice, meet, match or game.  Every athlete should know that you have a small window of time to repair your muscles after exercise.  If you wait too long to replenish your muscle with adequate nutrition they will try to repair themselves resulting in muscle wasting and increased risk of injury and compromised immune system. 

Avoid processed foods. Processed foods are depleted of nutrients and will not give you optimal nutrition to perform your best.  Instead of a processed cereal bar eat plain oats, instead of French fries choose a baked potato, instead of chips or crackers choose raw vegetables.  Try to eat foods in their most natural form as much as possible.  Live by the 80/20 principle. 80% healthy foods and 20% can be treats or in the "grey" area. 

Supplementation.  Take a daily multi-vitamin at the least to simply ensure you are getting the bare minimum required vitamins and minerals daily for healthy bones, skin, thyroid, and hormone health.  Use protein powder and/or meal replacement shakes to ensure daily needs are met.  If you tend to eat meals without protein (like cereal, bagels, etc.) adding a daily shake to your nutrition plan will help you achieve your daily protein requirements. 

Focus on what you need to eat vs. the foods you should avoid.  No one wants to feel deprived of food!  Every day you should have at least 6 servings of fruits and vegetables, protein and healthy fats at each meal and most snacks.  Try to eat every 2-4 hours (3 meals and 1-3 snacks per day depending on how many hours you are awake) and drink your daily requirement of water (see first tip).  After you have met your daily nutrition needs you will most likely not crave junk foods, if you still do then have a moderate portion. 

Keep a food journal.  This will help you stay on track with your daily hydration, meal and snack timing, protein, fat, fruit and vegetable serving targets.  There are several easy apps or online programs that are free and easy to use.  My favorite is www.myfitnesspal.

Avoid the scale.  As an athlete you naturally carry more muscle (because you're awesome!).  BMI (Body Mass Index) is a chart that measure your health based on your height and weight.  This IS NOT an accurate measurement of your health status because muscle weighs more than fat.  Instead of "weighing in" pay more attention to the way your clothes fit, body fat percentage and circumference measurements.  Fat is fluffy and big, muscle is lean and toned...what do you want more of?

 

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