Nutrition for Women: Fuelling Your Body for Fitness
As a woman, it's important to fuel your body properly to achieve optimal fitness and performance. However, traditional research has largely focused on men's bodies, leaving women wondering how to properly fuel their workouts. Fortunately, as a registered dietitian at the Health and Performance Centre (HPC) in Guelph, I'm here to share some tips on how to fuel your body for high-performance workouts as a woman.
Women's Bodies Operate Differently from Men’s
One major factor that affects female athletes' nutrition needs is their menstrual cycle. Throughout the cycle, hormone levels fluctuate, which affects metabolism and energy levels. During the first half of the cycle, estrogen levels are higher, which can increase insulin sensitivity and carbohydrate metabolism. During the second half of the cycle, progesterone levels are higher, which can increase fat oxidation and decrease carbohydrate metabolism. These hormonal fluctuations mean that women's nutrition needs may vary throughout the month, and it's important to pay attention to your body's signals.
Start with a High-Performance Diet
One way to fuel your body properly is by focusing on high-performance diets. These diets emphasize nutrient-dense, whole foods and limit processed and refined foods. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates can provide your body with the energy it needs to power through workouts.
Good pre-workout meal options include:
- a smoothie with fruit and protein powder
- oatmeal with nut butter and fruit
- a turkey and avocado sandwich on whole-grain bread
How to Stay Hydrated and Keep Your Energy Up During Workouts
During workouts, it's important to stay hydrated and maintain your energy levels. Drinking water before, during, and after exercise can help prevent dehydration.
Consuming easily digestible carbohydrates during long workouts can help maintain blood sugar levels and energy. Some good options include sports drinks, gels, or chews.
After workouts, it's important to refuel with protein and carbohydrates to help repair and build muscle. Good post-workout meal options include a protein shake with fruit and nut butter, a turkey and sweet potato wrap, or salmon and quinoa with vegetables.
Overall, female athletes need to pay attention to their body's signals and adjust their nutrition accordingly. By focusing on high-performance diets, staying hydrated, and fueling properly before and after workouts, women can achieve optimal fitness and performance. If you're unsure about your nutrition needs or want personalized advice, don't hesitate to consult with a registered dietitian.
- Melin, A., Tornberg, Å. B., Skouby, S., Faber, J., Ritz, C., & Sjödin, A. (2014). The LEAF questionnaire: a screening tool for the identification of female athletes at risk for the female athlete triad. British journal of sports medicine, 48(7), 540-545.
- Thomas, D. T., Erdman, K. A., & Burke, L. M. (2016). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(3), 501-528.