01 Jul Refuel, Rehydrate, Repair – for Female Athletes
Refuel, Rehydrate, Repair – for Female Athletes
by Elvia Suryadi
Your training does not end when you finish your workout. Adequate recovery is essential for muscle repair and adaptation. Here are some recovery components that every physically active woman needs.
In general, the nutrients required by woman athletes are the same as for men and non-athletes. The difference lies in the amount required.
All athletes interested in performance need to consume protein as soon as possible following a workout.
The Australian Institute of Sports recommends a daily protein intake of 1-1.4gr per kg of body weight per day for female endurance athletes. While protein is crucial for both women and men, women seem to retain protein and derive more improvement in exercise performance when refueling immediately post-exercise (within 20-30 minutes), especially following a high intensity workout.
As protein intake is best absorbed when combined with carbohydrate, a protein-carbohydrate snack following your workout is ideal. It is highly important to look at the protein intake throughout the day as well as after exercise.
Quality trumps quantity applies in your choice of fuel source. I believe in consuming real food during training and refueling. Try to include high-quality protein and carbohydrate from real food in every meal and after exercise.
10g of protein and 40g of carbohydrate is an ideal mix for a snack following a 1.5hr workout.
Quick and easy 10g protein foods include:
2 small eggs,
70gr cottage cheese,
2 slices of bread + 1tbs peanut butter
and my personal favourite, cocoa avocado coconut milk smoothie, high in sodium, potassium and contains iron, zinc (avocado is surprisingly a good source protein, 1 avocado provides about 4gr of protein)
Iron is needed to help bind oxygen necessary in the energy-making process. A deficiency can lead to chronic mental, physical fatigue and low performance. Iron deficiency is especially common among female athletes, mainly due to monthly blood loss through menstruation. increasing demand from high intensity training and inadequate intake. The daily recommendation for iron intake is generally higher for female athletes (20mg or higher).
Iron can be found both in animal and plant foods, but iron from animal sources such as red meat, egg yolks, poultry and and tuna, is better absorbed by the body. Good sources of non-animal iron include dark leafy greens, oatmeal and brown rice. Combining these with foods high in vitamin C, such as broccoli, bell pepper and tomato, is recommended to improve absorption.
Water is an essential element for muscle performance. 600ml – 1litre of water for every hour of exercise needs to be added to the recommended 1.5litre of fluid daily for proper hydration. For sessions longer than 1hr, consider taking a sports drink containing electrolytes (sodium and potassium) and a 5-8% carbohydrate mix to enhance absorption.
Sleep is vital for maintaining your immune system and repairing your body after training. A study conducted by Duke University found that on average women need 20 minutes more sleep than men per night. So it’s official girls – do not skimp on your sleep, and if 8hrs a night seems like a luxury, try fitting in those naps whenever you can.