Dr Sam Moss, Senior Lecturer in Sport & Exercise Sciences at the University of Chester, recently presented at the Sports and Active Nutrition Summit in Amsterdam on the physiological and nutritional challenges of female athletes.
“In the past, females haven't had the support that they needed, that's obviously changing now, and there is definitely more of a drive to do that with female athletes. But there's still a large number of female athletes that are probably left behind at the expense of the male athletes,” noted Moss, who is also a Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) nutrition consultant in women's professional football.
Moss said in order to effectively deliver the message to the athletes, educational conversations must start early on.
“My experience is some athletes, even at a professional level, seem to struggle with the basics of nutrition and much of that is through no fault of their own, they just haven't been given the information they need. They haven't had good access to sports nutritionists in the past. This is certainly something that sporting organizations need to prioritize.”
Moss emphasized the importance of framing that education from a performance perspective first.
“I think performance is their main priority and that's something we need to recognize. So they tend to be looking forward to the next match, the next competition, rather than what is going to happen years down the line to their health. So perhaps initially demonstrating how poor nutrition or defueling can impact performance metrics, that might be the way, or the gateway to initiating some sort of positive change. And, and then once we've got their attention, having dedicated sessions on what good mental health looks like, is the next logical step to me,” she said.
To hear more about the challenges of energy availability, common deficiencies and some of the personalized tools Moss uses, listen to the NutraCast.