Experts: Many Female Athletes Aren't Eating Enough

There’s good news and bad news — which do you want first? The good? Okay, here goes … the number of females taking part in sports has gone up dramatically in the past few years. And since 1972, the number is close to a 550-percent increase in participation. So, let’s cheers to that, ladies! runs around and gives everyone high-fives

Okay, now stop celebrating.

The bad news, as reported by NPR, is that many of the women who are playing sports — specifically younger ones in their teens — aren’t taking care of their bodies in terms of nutrition. Dehydration can lead to impaired mental prowess, and an overall lack of nutrition can prevent muscles from regenerating and lead to injury and other chronic health problems. The clinical term is “female athlete triad syndrome,” and may include irregular menstrual cycles, low energy, and low bone density. You already know that low energy causes you to doze off in English class, but what happens when you have low bone density? Your bones break easier. And you may be more susceptible to osteoporosis later in life. In short, nothing good.

Related: 7 Natural Energy Drinks

So how much should you eat per day? It depends on your fitness goals; however, a good benchmark is for teens who are athletes — aka YOU —  to take in as many as 3,500 calories per day. Make your meals protein-centric — lean meat, whey protein — and lots of complex carbohydrates — brown rice, whole wheat bread; focus on consuming whole foods instead of bars and other synthetic, lab-created hybrids. Add plenty of fruits and veggies and stay away from processed foods and sugars and you’ll be good to go.

We recently ran an article on apps that can help female weightlifters, and one of them will help you determine what’s in your food in terms of macros (protein, carbs, fat). It’s worth a look — also because it’s FREE!