Female Athlete Nutrition

Lately, I've been getting a lot of questions from friends and on instagram about nutrition! I kept putting this off, not because I didn't want to write it, but because I just didn't know where to START. 

I am obsessed with nutrition, reading about it, thinking about it, trying out different foods, experimenting with when and how I eat, macros and calorie counting, intuitive eating. You name it, I've tried it. 

So, I'm going to break this up into a series called #FightingForFood! Mostly because I love alliteration :) You can follow these posts on instagram as I'll be sharing links to the blogs and some quick thoughts via instagram over the next week. 

To kick things off, here are the 5 overarching nutritional guidelines for women exercise. Either those who want to start exercising or are currently involved in moderate to heavy exercise on a regular basis. Those may sound like totally different groups, but I've found that while they're at opposite ends of the workout spectrum, women starting out have difficulty knowing where to start with nutrition and women who are already active have a tendency to plateau. In my experience, these guidelines have worked for both parties. 

So for women thinking about changing their diet or women who have plateaued and need to try something new, here are my five guidelines! 

Eat more

That is not a typo. That is an almighty command from yours truly. When it comes to weight loss, the most basic, run-of-the-mill trainer will tell you, "Just eat less and move more." That's waaaaaay too simplified an approach IMO. So many women start working out and think they also need to slash their calories in half. But now, you've increased your metabolism AND given yourself less food?! Do you see why you come home and destroy the fridge after your workouts?! Or why you've plateaued and can't seem to break through? So the key is eating just enough to be in a caloric deficit or if your goal is to maintain, eating just enough to keep your physique in homeostasis (a faAaAancy science word for stable). 

Add in Healthy Foods

Just like eating more, I think the best way to supplement your new or current workout regimen is by giving yourself MORE TO RUN ON. So instead of starving yourself (or the opposite, eating 3 juicy, burgers and calling it a day) start to add in healthy food! Make one healthy habit your only nutritional focus. Maybe that's eating greens at every meal. Maybe that's adding in more fiber to your diet. You could start buying one new vegetable every week and learning new ways to cook it. Whatever you decide, don't take anything else away. ADD IN something healthy before you take away something else. 

Phase out the junk

Nooowww we take out the bad stuff. You're eating more and healthier foods because you've been adding them into your diet. But perhaps you've still got that 3pm-candy-bowl-and-diet-coke habit (guilty as charged)? The next think to do to help you with your nutrition journey is find ways to swap out unhealthy habits for healthier ones. Keep in mind that "unhealthy" and "healthy" are defined completely by YOU. Sometimes, when I've had a stressful day, I drink a diet Dr. Pepper because it makes me feel good. I'm keeping that habit because I know it works for me. But my 3pm candy habit? I make an effort to bring healthy snacks that I can grab instead because I know that eating too much candy doesn't line up with my personal healthy goals. 

Play with Carbs

Ignore what your parents said. Play with your food. And the best kind of food: CARBS. My love for carbs runs deep and pure. I will say that I am not a ketogenic promoter. If it works for you, then heck yes! Run with it! It hasn't for me, so I cannot, with good conscience, say that it works. What has worked is eating more carbs in order to meet the needs of my workouts. Adding in healthy carbs is an easy way to start eating more. You can basically knock out the first two guidelines with this one. Oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, potatoes (yeah, I mean sweet AND regular potatoes), beans and other starchy vegetables are amazing sources of energy! Expirement with when, how much, and what kind of carbs you eat and notice how your body responds, both during your workouts and in your day to day activities. 

Increase your Protein

This is actually the last guideline listed for a reason. I am an athlete; I purposefully consume a lot of protein to maintain lean muscle mass. However, there was a point in my life where I could NOT eat the same amount of protein that I can now without looking like the Hulk (no offense to the Hulk, just not my preferred aesthetic). I had to slowly increase my protein intake, over years! So start by eating more protein at one or two meals, you don't have to buy chicken in bulk and eat 8oz at every single meal. Protein does help you stay full for longer and it keeps your blood sugar in check, so eating a protein-rich snack when you're feeling sluggish or starting your day out with eggs instead of a granola bar may be a good place to start. 

I will be writing FULL blogs about each of these topics and sharing snippets of info on each on instagram. If this is something you're interested in, be sure to follow on Instagram and if you know someone who might be interested, share it with them now!