Special Needs for Sportswomen

Special Needs for Sportswomen

By Silky Mahajan  on: 16 September 2017
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When we talk about nutrition, well-balanced meals and following healthy regime is more or less similar for male as well as female. However, it is vital to understand that sportswomen should give particular attention to three nutrients: water, calcium, and iron. Besides, meals should be rich in B12, folate, and zinc.

Water: Sportswoman participating in any physical activity should understand the importance of fluid balance and pre/during/post game hydration. They should monitor their water intake closely.

Calcium: Helping the body in bone growth, bone mass, muscle contraction and nerve impulses, calcium is one of the most important components of a diet. It also helps in building strong bones to resist breaking and stress fractures. Inadequate calcium intake may cause a substantial risk of stress fractures, low bone mass, and related bone injuries.

Women are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis (a disorder characterized by making the bones weak and more likely to fracture), particularly after menopause, because oestrogen levels are reduced. Considering this fact, adequate daily calcium is essential in maintaining bone strength. There is no doubt that calcium is good for women, however, too much calcium might cause serious side effects, which include renal damage and deposit of calcium in other areas besides the bones. In case you are at risk of developing kidney stones, you should take extra caution before taking calcium supplements. Ragi, Milk, Cheese, Leafy Vegetables and Yogurt and calcium-rich foods are a must for sportswomen.

Iron: Deficiency of iron can lead to reduced performance and fatigue. More often, females are at risk because of increased iron requirements due to menstrual blood losses matched against a smaller intake of food. If sportswomen do not get enough iron from their diet, then supplements should be considered under the supervision of a sports nutritionist or a physician.

Disordered eating and menstrual irregularities are very common symptoms of poor nutrition among sportswomen. Disordered eating includes poor nutrition habits, eating junk foods, dieting, etc. Combining disordered eating with intense training leads to multiple health problems like menstrual irregularities and much more.

Precautions need to be taken by sportswomen:

  • Monitor your hydration levels closely
  • Avoid excessive dieting which leads to unhealthy weight loss
  • Eat 5-7 meals (3 major 3-4 small) per day
  • Choose breakfast options rich in iron e.g. cereals
  • Distribute proper amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat across all the meals
  • Avoid junk foods
  • Make sure that you are getting enough macronutrients & micronutrients from food. If not then consider supplementation under the guidance of sports nutritionist or physician.
  • Keep monitoring your menstrual cycles. In case of irregularity take medical advice immediately.

In case of any related query or to book an appointment with Dt. Silky Mahajan please send us an email at [email protected] or call on  91 7829999400.



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I keep on getting this query from many parents and athletes whether caffeine is prohibited for athletes. The answer to this query is: Caffeine is not a banned substance but under monitoring program of WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) in 2017. The decision on caffeine is expected to conclude in September 2017 by WADA whether it will be added to banned list or not.   Brief history: Caffeine was considered as banned substance at the Olympics for many years. In 2004, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA**) removed caffeine from banned list considering the fact that millions of people enjoy caffeine as part of their normal lives (coffee, tea, chocolate, and soft drinks with caffeine in them) not directly as a way to boost their performance in sport.  Recommended Dosage: 1 to 3 mg caffeine per kg body weight is considered safe for adults. Such moderate dosages can be found in everyday amounts of coffee, tea, cold drinks, chocolates and some sports products (e.g., gels). For example, 60-80 mg of caffeine is supplied by a small cup of espresso coffee or 400 ml of a cola drink.  Excess intake of caffeine (e.g. 9 mg per kg body weight) can result in side effects like jitteriness, nervousness, insomnia, headache, dizziness, and gastrointestinal distress, which can obviously have a detrimental effect on performance.  Side Effects of Caffeine if taken more than recommended: Abdominal pain Diarrhoea Dehydration Restlessness, anxiety & irritability Headaches High blood pressure Interference with recovery and sleep patterns Abnormal heartbeat Increased muscle tension Reference: Caffeine presence in various drinks referred from Nestle India site.  In the case of any related query or to book an appointment with Dt. Silky Mahajan please send us an email at [email protected] or call on 080 6741 7780 (Dial Extension: 778).
Silky Mahajan

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Dietitian in Bangalore , India 

An author of 'Nutrition for Sportspersons' book (published by Department of Youth Empowerment & Sports, Government of Karnataka), Silky Mahajan is a highly acclaimed name in the list of top Nutritionists in India. She is the Founder & Nutrition Expert at Foods & Nutrition Clinic, Bangalore. An award-winning nutritionist, she changes the way you eat forever with her acute understanding of nutrition and its significance in the diet. She has a Masters degree in Foods & Nutrition from Panjab University, Chandigarh. Also, she is Certified Sports Nutritionist from International Sports Science Association, USA. Silky also got trained in the field of Nutrition from Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Chandigarh and Fortis Escort Hospital. She is holding Certified Diabetes Educator certification from International Hope Health Academy (IDEEL) in order to have the vast knowledge of Diabetes/Insulin response in athletes. Also, she is an active member of Indian Dietetics Association (IDA).Her profound knowledge in the field of nutrition and dietetics has made her the youngest most Nutritionists in the country. In an extremely short span of time, she has dealt with athletes globally, both elite players who have participated in top International Championships as well as young budding athletes with a promising future. She believes that all the joy of life comes from the right food you eat- in right amounts and, at the right time. She has acquired wide experience working with Fortis Hospital, Alere Medicals, Sports Academies, and many other reputed MNCs that have led her to become one of the country's pre-eminent nutrition experts working towards proper nutrition therapy for society to lead a healthier lifestyle. She is one of the very few certified sports nutritionists in India offering services to NGOs as well. As a prolific author, Silky Mahajan's columns appear in leading newspapers, sports/fitness magazines, social networking websites, and other online platforms.  She has also participated in many panel discussions on nutrition in FM Radios, corporate houses, sports academies, schools, and colleges.Silky has been practicing Nutrition for more than seven years in the field of sports as well as clinical nutrition. As part of sports nutrition, she covers most sports nutrition sub-specialties like carbohydrate loading, hydration strategy, energy & endurance, muscle building, insulin management, optimize performance and sports nutritional deficiency. As part of clinical nutrition, she covers Human nutrition (Infancy, Childhood, Adolescence, Adulthood & Older Adulthood), Weight Management, Medical Nutrition Therapy (e.g. Diabetes, Hypertension, Eating disorders, Thyroid, PCOS) as well as corporate nutrition classes.
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