Today’s post is entirely aimed to make you aware of the differences between males and females when it comes to nutrition programming.
When it comes to the female athlete, there’s a pretty large list of factors that a nutrition coach needs to be aware of when it planning their nutrition.
In quick fire fashion, here are just some of the differences…
1) Aggressive calorie intakes (low energy availability) cause ovarian suppression, a reduction in performance and exercise associated menstrual dysfunction.
2) Luteal phase = increased glycogen storage & reduced glycogen utilisation.
3) Follicular phase = decreased glycogen storage & increased glycogen utilisation.
4) Carb loading/high carb diets during luteal phase are less essential.
5) Fat usage is higher in females Vs males during endurance exercise (lower RER).
6) Elevated estrogen increases fat utilisation during exercise.
7) Fat storage within the muscle (intramuscular triglycerides – IMT) is higher in females than in males.
8) On average, females have a higher percentage of type I muscle fibres and more fatty acid transport proteins (to use fat as fuel).
9) Post exercise, fat utilisation is lower in females compared to males (despite being higher during).
10) Females may benefit from a higher fat intake due to having a greater ability to store and use fat as fuel.
11) Muscle breakdown is higher during the luteal phase Vs follicular phase due to an increase in estrogen or a decrease in the estrogen: progesterone ratio.
12) Ovarian suppression results in elevated muscle breakdown.
13) Heavy menstrual bleeding, amongst other factors increases iron requirements to maintain health and performance.
14) On average, female athletes tend to have higher body fat than males in the same sport. Of which, higher body fat levels reduce the bioavailability of vitamin D and result in a lower vit D status.
15) 72-90% of females fail to reach adequate calcium levels.
16) Estrogen also reduces the uptake of calcium in the bone – combine this with issues surrounding vit D can result in lower bone mineral density and fracture risk.
17) Females tend to sweat 18-34% less than males. Therefore have an improved thermoregulatory advantage which impacts fluid requirements.
18) Body mass can increase by 2kg through changes in fluid balance from the follicular phase to the luteal phase – this is why the scales are a dick when measuring body composition.
19) A greater risk of hyponatremia (low sodium levels = dangerous) due to lower body weight, reduced sweat rates and typically taking longer to finish endurance events, therefore having a tendency to drink more water throughout.
Given these very brief points (of many), do you think male and females need to eat the same…or at least, need to consider the differences with their nutrition programming?
Some food for thought.
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