Nutritional Considerations for Female Athletes during the Menstrual Cycle

Nutritional Considerations for Female Athletes during the Menstrual Cycle

Some women experience their menstrual cycle without any significant symptoms, while others face challenges. Acknowledging individual differences, it's essential for female athletes to tailor their nutritional approach to meet their specific needs, particularly considering the fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone that influence energy and nutrient metabolism.


Foundational Principles:

  • Adequate daily caloric intake is crucial to support overall health, training, and recovery.
  • Insufficient calorie intake can lead to low energy availability and various health and performance issues such as menstrual irregularities, poor recovery, and impaired training response.
  • Reasons for inadequate caloric intake may include restrictive eating habits, fear of weight gain, inadequate fueling during training, or following restrictive diets.


Nutritional Guidelines:

Carbohydrate Intake:

Consume at least 150g of carbohydrates daily from sources like oats, potatoes, rice, whole grain bread, and fruits.

Carbohydrates are essential for providing energy, regulating hormones, and supporting optimal performance.

Fueling Training Sessions:

Adequately fuel sessions lasting 60 minutes or longer with carbohydrate-based snacks or sports drinks.

For longer sessions, sip on sports drinks and include carbohydrate-rich snacks like energy bars, fruits, or whole grain crackers.


Protein Consumption:

Aim for 1.6g of protein per kg of body weight daily, spread across meals and snacks.

Sufficient protein supports muscle repair, recovery, body composition, and strength gains.


Fruits and Vegetables:

Include a variety of five different fruits and vegetables daily to provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Consume a colorful array of fruits and vegetables to ensure a diverse nutrient intake.


Symptom Management:

Track menstrual cycle symptoms to identify patterns and adjust nutrition accordingly.

Address common symptoms like constipation, bloating, hunger, and low energy with appropriate dietary strategies such as staying hydrated, consuming fiber-rich foods, and eating balanced meals.


Conclusion: Prioritize meeting daily energy needs and fueling training sessions adequately to support overall health and performance. While understanding menstrual cycle phases can guide nutritional adjustments, consistency in following foundational principles is key. Tracking symptoms and adjusting nutrition accordingly can further optimize performance and well-being, enabling female athletes to excel in their training and competition endeavors.

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