Today I am partnering with ResilientHer a sports medicine blog with a mission to empower female and non-binary athletes. She is going to explain the importance of fuel and nutrition in sport. For three easy and healthy recipes go over to her blog ( https://www.resilientherblog.com/ ) to see some recipes I shared.
7 reasons why you need enough food!
Hello! My name is Yurika, and I am a figure skater and the founder of resilientHer! We are a sports medicine blog dedicated to empowering female and non-binary athletes to reach their fullest potential by promoting mental and physical wellbeing.
One of our main focuses on our blog is promoting a healthy relationship with food and body. Eating disorders, disordered eating, and body dysmorphia disproportionately affect female athletes, especially those in aesthetic sports like figure skating. It isn’t an understatement to say that one of the most significant ways female athletes hinder their potential is through under-fuelling. We’ll be discussing seven reasons why you need enough food as an athlete to achieve your goals and live a fulfilling life! Which reason resonates with you most? Let us know in the comments below!
Reason #1: To have enough energy to perform at your best!
To reach your fullest potential with your sport, adequately fueling yourself is a non-negotiable. Sports are demanding on your body, especially as a young athlete, which increases your energy needs beyond the average person. As a baseline, athletes should eat at least three adequate meals a day and snacks in between. To stay competitive and healthy, you need to treat fueling with the same importance you would treat training. If you want to improve at your sport, you wouldn’t skip a workout because you’re “too busy” or not train because you “don’t feel like it.” You can’t skip eating for those same reasons!
Reason #2: To increase your strength and endurance!
Putting in the hours with your training is only a small part of the equation for athletic performance. To increase your muscular and cardiovascular strength, you need the fuel to power your body through a workout and repair your muscles afterward. You cannot force a car to drive on an empty tank; it just doesn’t work. Similarly, you cannot force your body to move on an empty stomach. Balanced pre- and post-workout snacks are a great place to start with fueling for optimal performance!
Reason #3: To increase your focus!
When you aren’t giving your body enough food, your body reduces your body’s functions to conserve energy, which significantly affects your mental capacity. Your brain uses 20% of your energy, and runs almost entirely on carbohydrates. Eating enough will help sharpen your focus, increase your clarity, and improve your cognitive abilities. Another benefit of adequately fueling is not thinking about food all the time! When you aren’t eating enough to meet your needs, your brain alerts you of that by reminding you that you need to eat! With proper nutrition, you will have the mental space to focus on what truly matters in your life, like sports, school, and friends!
Reason #4: To promote mental wellbeing!
Falling into an energy deficit, which is very easy for athletes, places you at a higher risk of developing eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. Even if you don’t develop a mental illness, hangriness is real – eating enough helps boost your mood! Remember that eating enough isn’t just quantitative, it’s qualitative. Focus on eating foods you genuinely enjoy alongside nutrient-dense foods to satisfy your mind and body!
Reason #5: To prevent injuries!
An injury is detrimental to any athlete’s career. Unfortunately, under-fuelling dramatically increases that risk. Female athletes in aesthetic sports who suffer from disordered eating are eight times more likely to sustain injuries than those who have healthy relationships with food. Inadequate nutrition can lead to amenorrhea and low bone density, which increases your susceptibility to fractures. When you sustain an injury, not eating enough will also slow the recovery process, prolonging your return to play.
Reason #6: To protect your long-term health!
Let’s face it: periods aren’t pleasant. But not having a period has long-term, often irreversible consequences on your health. Amenorrhea, or the absence of a period, occurs due to low estrogen triggered by an energy deficit. Low levels of estrogen result in reduced bone density, increasing your risk of osteoporosis and bone injuries. Since your bone density peaks during adolescence, losing your period as a teenage athlete can permanently affect your bone density. Amenorrhea can also cause gastrointestinal distress, a suppressed immune system, and fertility issues. If you aren’t getting a consistent period, or if your period is too light or too heavy, reach out to a doctor specializing in sports medicine immediately.
Reason #7: To live life to the fullest!
Food isn’t just fuel; it’s joy, community, and connection. Food freedom is being able to spontaneously eat ice cream with your friends and enjoying every moment. It’s being present during family meals and focusing on the memories instead of the calories. It’s being able to eat what you want, do what you love, and live the life that will make your future self proud. You can’t live a full life on an empty stomach. You deserve a life beyond your eating disorder or disordered eating. Recovery is possible: you can do this!
“Eating Disorders and Athletes.” National Eating Disorders Association, 18 Apr.
2019, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/athletes-eating-disorders. Accessed
28 July 2020.