Women and endurance running part two: nutrition for female athletes

Last week we spoke with researcher, entrepreneur, leisure athlete and scientist Dr. Stacy Sims about feminine physiology and how women can work with their menstrual cycles to enhance their coaching and develop into higher athletes. This week, Sims is again to speak about diet for feminine runners and the way they’ll gasoline for well being and efficiency.

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Nutrition for feminine athletes: fuelling your run

“The large rock for ladies is to gasoline for, and recuperate from, their coaching,” says Sims.

She explains many ladies nonetheless carry the “energy in, energy out” mindset of the 1980’s, which leads them to do issues like fasted coaching and delaying restoration to burn extra energy and drop some weight. Sims says that from a physiological standpoint, we all know this doesn’t work. In reality, it has the alternative impact — it down-regulates your resting metabolic charge (i.e. your metabolism slows down) and might really make you placed on weight. She emphasizes that ladies must be fuelling for and from their training.

“Like I’ve mentioned earlier than, you don’t get fitter when you’re exercising, you get fitter from the restoration,” she says, “and for those who don’t give your physique gasoline to recuperate, it’s pointless to exit and prepare.”

When it involves among the stylish diets which can be in style proper now (suppose Paleo, Keto, and so on.), Sims explains there’s a cause they typically work higher for males than ladies, and it comes down, but once more, to our physiology. She says males have one space within the hypothalamus of their brains which can be delicate to energy and vitamins, whereas ladies have two. This makes ladies much more delicate to calorie and nutrient standing as a result of biologically, ladies are supposed to breed. Without satisfactory energy and carbohydrates, it downturns a number of programs within the physique, which impacts the menstrual cycle. This results in a rise in physique fats and menstrual cycle dysfunction.

Should ladies do fasted coaching?

When requested if ladies ought to ever prepare in a fasted state, Sims’ response was an emphatic no. The thought, she says, behind fasted coaching is to extend the physique’s capacity to make use of fats for gasoline, however ladies’s our bodies are already excellent at doing that. During train, feminine our bodies preferentially use fats and protein as a gasoline supply, whereas males preferentially use carbohydrates. Because of this, fasted coaching in ladies will increase cortisol ranges, inflicting a cascade of poor adaptation, fatigue, despair, anxiousness and build-up of physique fats.

This doesn’t imply it’s good to have a full meal three to 4 hours earlier than your run. Particularly for many who want to do their coaching very first thing within the morning, Sims says something small like half a banana, a bit of toast or a protein-fortified espresso is all it’s good to convey your blood sugar up and reduce your cortisol ranges. Once you full your run or coaching session, that’s when your post-workout meal turns into vital to kick-start the restoration course of.

Sims recommends ladies focus their carbohydrates round their coaching, and to make sure they’re consuming protein with a little bit of carbohydrate all through the remainder of the day. For ladies following vegetarian or vegan diets, nevertheless, she encourages them to keep away from soy. From a complement standpoint, she recommends pea isolate as a greater substitute as a result of it has a very good amino acid profile and likewise gives some fibre and different vitamins.

How do ladies’s hydration wants differ from males’s?

Women’s hydration needs change all through their cycles. In most instances, ladies will end a run or race with related or decrease blood sodium ranges than after they began, however after they’re within the excessive hormone part they kick out extra complete physique sodium. Their threshold for that additionally adjusts, which suggests throughout that point, ladies might want to remind themselves to drink as a result of their thirst sensation modifications. Sims explains that males can depend on thirst cues as a result of they’ll afford to lose extra physique water, however ladies shouldn’t.

“When it involves hydration, ladies must dial it in in keeping with menstrual cycle part, and never rely a lot on thirst,” she says.

After a run or exercise, Sims recommends gradual rehydrating, fairly than gulping a bunch of water down, particularly throughout that prime hormone part when dehydration is extra of a problem. She additionally suggests fairly than plain water or a conventional sports activities drink, ladies use one of many new functional hydration products. These are decrease in carbohydrate (an excessive amount of will sit in your abdomen and dehydrate your additional) and better in electrolytes. For a lower-intensity exercise, she suggests merely including a little bit of maple syrup and a splash of salt to your water.

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