Female Athletes – Eat Clean, Eat Smart, but EAT ENOUGH!!!By
Maintaining low body weight for the sake of performance can often combine with social pressures for aesthetics and “thinness” in young female athletes. However, insufficient energy intake throughout this stage of development can have profound consequences on maturation, reproductive capacity. High energy expenditure without adequate compensation in energy intake leads to an energy deficiency, and bone health.
The combination of low energy availability, menstrual disturbances and low bone mineral density is referred to as the ‘female athlete triad’.
Current recommendations focus on either increasing energy intake or decreasing energy expenditure; eating more, or training less.
Meal replacement products can help increase energy intake and may be a useful addition to a female athletes diet. In addition, ensuring sufficient intakes of calcium and iron are particularly important for female athletes.
A referral to a sports nutritionist will also give more perspective and can be an effective way of managing energy intake, although severe cases should be referred to a doctor.
Ducher G, Turner AI, Kukuljan S, Pantano KJ, Carlson JL, Williams NI, De Souza MJ. “Obstacles in the optimization of bone health outcomes in the female athlete triad”.
Sports Med. 2011 Jul 1;41(7):587-607.
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