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The Right Nutrition For Female Athletes

This article is authored by Dr. Shweta U. Shah. A practicing homeopath, she follows a patient-centred perspective, emphasizing the benefits of natural remedies and herbs, homeopathy and whole food nutrition.

Food is the fuel which athletes need to perform their very best. Without the right food, fitness, stamina, endurance, strength and overall performance will hit a low. Nutrition in sports is exceedingly pivotal and to get the most out of your workout routine and athletic ability, your diet ought to be one of your top priorities. Also, it is crucial to remember that as your body expends energy through training, it is vital that you restock the lost energy and nutrients.

Dietary guidelines for the female athlete

Eat Breakfast

Female athletes need to consume 5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight per day during a moderate intensity workout and 10 - 12 grams of carbs per kilogram of bodyweight for a high intensity routine. Obtain your carbs from whole grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, fresh fruits and dairy – it should necessarily be a part of the athlete diet. Significantly, your intake of carbs changes based upon your phase of menstrual cycle. During the luteal phase - which lasts for 15 days, beginning in the middle of the cycle and ending just before the period commences, there is a reduced requirement for carbohydrates.

There is a very strong association between the consumption of protein and the energy availability. When energy levels are high, the protein is employed for physiological functions. On the other hand, during low levels of energy, the protein is used to meet the energy deficit. An equilibrium is required between carbohydrate, protein and energy availability, which is important for women in sport as the female reproductive hormones are closely connected to the metabolic pathway.

When the carbohydrate, protein and energy equilibrium is lost, the reproductive function takes a bashing. A ripple effect occurs – causing irregular thyroid function, abnormal bone mineral metabolism, poor immune function and gastrointestinal function, and decreased maintenance of the organs; eventually causing a decline in physical performance.

To sustain good levels of protein, a female athlete should eat nutrient dense, high-performance, sources of protein such as – eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, legumes, whole grains, and nuts.

5 Superfoods for athletes to heighten potential

You can get plenty of muscle-building nutrients by adding the right foods to your diet.

• Bananas: The perfect source of fuel and natural electrolytes, bananas are loaded with glucose, which is a vastly digestible sugar proffering instant energy – they should easily make their way into an athlete diet. It is also brimming with potassium which keeps muscle cramps during your workout at bay. The carbs in the fruit are released slowly and steadily into your body, thereby preventing spiking in the blood sugar levels as well as encouraging muscle recovery. Have a banana yogurt smoothie before every workout and eat one banana at the end of your workout routine.

• Almonds:Radish Almonds promise muscle-nourishing nutrients and are packed with protein and healthy fats and should be a part of any athlete’s diet. A fistful of almonds, i.e. about 20 nuts provide 6 grams of protein. Importantly, combine almonds with complex carbs, they help steady the blood sugar level and sustain the carbs for a long interval of time, instead of burning them off immediately. They are also loaded with fibre and vitamin E. Furthermore, almonds bring down levels of bad cholesterol and support heart health. Interestingly, the nut boasts of special fat-burning properties when consumed before a workout. Almonds boost energy and endurance appreciably. However, do remember that while almonds are great, you need to watch the amount you eat; consuming more than 20 causes your body to store fat instead of building muscle.

• Legumes: Beans and lentils are fat-burning, muscle-building micro machines! An outstanding source of protein and fibre, beans give you energy to build the muscle you want. They help reduce fat, keep you feeling fuller for longer and protect the heart. 1 cup of boiled pulses, on an average provides 12 to 18 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber. Additionally, they are loaded with folate, which promotes muscle growth and also have a good amount of copper, which strengthens tendons.

• Dahi: Yogurt is your idyllic workout partner and must be an important component of the athlete diet! A fabulous source of protein, calcium and vitamin D, all these work beneficially for your muscles. All the 3 are vital for strong bones— and you need healthy bones to sustain strong muscles. Consuming a bowl of plain dahi everyday promises increased strength and greater muscle toning.

If you are a professional athlete training for a big event or trying to sustain your athletic lifestyle without any adverse effects on your health, it is always a good idea to talk to a nutritionist or a doctor. This will help you ensure that you meet your sporting goals while being healthy and fit.



DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 

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Pregnancy’s effect on blood pressure and how a healthy diet helps

This article is authored by Dr. Dharini Krishnan, an award-winning Consultant Dietitian, she believes that for a healthy body and mind, we must combine modern medicine with native Indian practices which are proven to benefit us.

It is no mean feat to grow another human being inside oneself. So, it comes as no surprise that pregnancy has several profound impacts on the body.

Plasma volume increases progressively through pregnancy. Cardiac output increases by 20%. The mother’s body requires more iron to produce foetal haemoglobin and certain other enzymes, as well as folate and B12. Her glucose metabolism undergoes changes to provide the foetus with sufficient glucose and energy and fuel its development. And the growing uterus causes mechanical changes to the digestive tract, pushing the stomach upwards and increasing gastric pressure.

Pregnancy and blood pressure

Eat Breakfast

Among these many changes, one significant shift that women should watch out for is a change in blood pressure. The pregnancy causes blood pressure to decrease in the first and second trimester but increase in the third. This increase in blood pressure can have a significant effect on the foetus if care is not taken.

It can cause a decrease in blood flow to the placenta, affecting the amount of oxygen the baby receives. This can, in turn, lead to intrauterine growth restriction, low birth weight, or premature birth. High blood pressure can also cause the placenta to be separated from the uterine wall, causing severe bleeding.

There are several factors that contribute to increases in blood pressure during pregnancy. The risk increases if women are overweight or obese, over 35 years of age, not getting enough physical activity, carrying more than one child or have a family history of hypertension.

How a healthy diet can help

Skin Care

Pregnant woman must also look into their iodine intake, as deficiency of iodine in the mother can lead to congenital abnormalities and decreased intelligence. Supplementation of iodine in severely deficient mothers is likely to increase the IQ of the infant. In severe cases of deficiency cretinism could precipitate. Iodine deficiency also leads to hypothyroid issues in the mother and infant. The easiest and best way to ensure that the required iodine reaches the mother is through iodised salt.

However, one of the main contributors to high blood pressure is dietary sodium. Sodium levels in the diet increase from added salt as well as from processed or ready-to-eat foods. Hence, pregnant women should highly restrict the consumption of foods high in sodiumsuch as pickles, papads, and preserved food. Store-bought sauces are also another prominent contributor of sodium and should be avoided as far as possible.

One good way to do this is to replace salty tastes with tangy or citrus tastes. For instance, pregnant women require a large quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables in their daily diet to ensure adequate micronutrients. A good way to achieve this without adding more salt to the diet is through fresh salads seasoned with lime juice or coriander.

Another clear contributor to high blood pressure is bad cholesterol. When the arteries get clogged due to cholesterol, this forces the heart to pump harder, which increases blood pressure. Thus, women should also stay away from unhealthy cooking such as fried foods and dishes containing trans fats. What’s more, fried foods also often contain high levels of sodium, which increases sodium intake.

Sweets and desserts, particularly those prepared outside the home, can also be red flag. Such preparations often contain unhealthy fats, which again contribute to bad cholesterol and high blood pressure.

While it might seem like that cravingsareundeniable, all our cravings are learnt and we do get used to a variety of tastes over time. So, when eating while pregnant, it’s time to cut down on sodium-richand fatty foods, and experiment with more fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as a range of other spices and herbs. This will ensure that you and your baby stay healthy and happy.



DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 

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