Supporting Female Athletes

Posted on March 29, 2022 by

Each athlete has different nutritional demands and needs – an individual’s physical and performance goals, the type of sport they play, and energy demands required for their sport all influence this. Individuals might have further unique nutrition needs based on their relationship with food, underlying health issues or allergies and intolerances to food.

The role of the dietitian is to help weave all these needs and beliefs into a meal plan and daily nutrition habits that lead to the best outcome for the athlete as a person and for performance.

Further complexities that play a role in individualising nutrition strategies can be the unique needs of female athletes. Female athletes can be more susceptible to IBS and low iron or be impacted by a hormone profile that may influence fatigue, menstrual cycle regularity and changes in appetite.

Understanding the unique needs of the female athlete is an area of developing research. Its purpose is to better understand the complexities of female athletes so that we can support female athletes to be their best selves and in turn have their best performances.

The Female Performance and Health Initiative by the AIS provides education and information on female health and performance to allow female athletes to develop a better understanding of their bodies and when their health is on track.

With a better understanding of how each individual female responds to training through understanding the impact this has on body composition, pelvic floor, breast soreness, menstrual cycles, energy availability, iron levels and fatigue, we can look at this data without judgment to have a more informed understanding of their specific needs to support each female athlete.

With in-tune body awareness, it’s easier to identify when things potentially aren’t as they should be, to then act to follow up and provide support for more desired outcomes or management plans.

Determining the best types of foods, times to eat and nutrition habits can be more specific with a good understanding of the athlete and using feedback from the body to be able to determine what needs to be nurtured and supported specific nutrition and health strategies to optimise their health and performance.

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