Women who lift weights have a different list of nutritional necessities

Women who train have nutritional requirements that are different from men and other women. The male and female body have different primary functions and systems, and hence different nutritional needs. Even among women, there is a difference between what a sedentary woman and what a woman who trains needs.

Research has been done in order to understand the effect of physical activity on micro-nutrient requirement. It sounds intuitive that when a woman does more physical activity, her nutritional requirements increase. That is, she will need more protein, starch, fat and food in order to stay healthy. But is it necessary that her vitamin and mineral requirements also increase?

While there is some evidence proving that a woman in training will need vitamins and minerals at quantities above Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), there is no clarity on how much more. And since there is a clear and known risk from over-supplementation, the final recommendation is that women who train should get RDA of all vitamins and minerals.

They have to eat wholesome real food in the right combinations and portions. One can get everything that their body requires from Nature. But the problem today is not knowing what to eat. We easily buy into exciting food products that promise to be gluten-free, sugar-free and fat-free, but ignore the shiny little banana on the counter (which is also gluten-free, sugar-free and fat-free by the way).

So here is what you need to do to fuel yourself sufficiently:

Eat vegetables with every meal

Vegetables are micro-nutrient powerhouses. Even the weakest vegetable has more to offer than the most nutritious grain. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, and since they are loaded with fibre, it’s almost impossible for you to overdose on them. We recommend that you include one cup of cooked or raw vegetables with every meal you eat.

More starch during your cycle

It’s not just you. Everyone craves something starchy and sweet during their cycle. It is physiology. It’s OK to eat more starch during those days. Your body is working much harder than usual when you menstruate. It’s only fair that you give it some extra energy so it can help you get through the day.

Build your meals around protein

Protein forms the building blocks of your body and so it should form the core of your plate. As a training woman, you rely on your muscles to do a lot of things — running, climbing, lifting, playing and more. Don’t you need to feed them? So every time you eat a meal make sure there is something egg or cheese or meat or paneer or seafood in it. If nothing else is available, have a tall glass of milk or curd with your meal.

Max up on magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral which a lot of women don’t get enough of. Painful periods, premenstrual migraines and anxiety are a symptom. From a training perspective, magnesium is responsible for muscle relaxation (while calcium is for muscle contraction). So sufficient magnesium is required to be able to recover successfully from training sessions and make progress. We strongly recommend that you consume magnesium rich foods like spinach, beans and nuts at least twice every week.

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