Supplements For a Toned Feminine Body
There are many nutrients that should be included in a female athlete’s supplementation regime to help, whether your goals are ‘body sculpting’ oriented, or aimed at fat loss.
Supplements For Recovery
Training without appropriate supplementation means that your training is less effective and recovery is prolonged. By ingesting the right nutrients at the right time, the building of lean, long muscles is encouraged, as is fat-loss. Glycogen storage replenishment will help provide energy and rebuild the tissues. Liquid meals enhance supplemental intervention at these important times (Ballentyne, 2003).
Protein powder - Female trainers require more protein than non-training females, which would be 1.5-2g/kg of protein per day (Leand, 2003). Achieving this with whole foods can be difficult in these amounts. Supplementing with protein powders is an efficient and convenient way to achieve this. Many women have aversions to protein supplement. This is probably because most come with huge muscle ripped men on the label, and women often are not aiming for that type of look. The fact is, women are physiologically different from men, and lack the hormones necessary for the hulking look. Indeed there are female bodybuilders out there who do look huge. However, these women spend their lives in the gym, and may be using hormones and other supplements.
BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) - The essentials - l-leucine, l-isoleucine and l-valine are the single most important group of amino acids for all athletes. Even moderate exercise causes levels of BCAA’s to drop rapidly which causes muscle tissue breakdown (catabolism) and fatigue. Research has shown that athletes who supplemented with BCAAs during tests experienced increased strength, energy, and power output.
Hormone Support For Ladies
In a recent study, tribulus was administered to females, resulting in increased concentrations of FSH* and estradiol. As a consequence, the testosterone concentration was not significantly changed. This study indicates that Tribulus is safe and does not disturb the hormonal balance in the body, thus enabling its administration as an agent stimulating the reproductive function. Many supplement manufacturers promote Tribulus as being safe and effective for women.
* Follicle Stimulating Hormone – FSH, is a hormone, secreted by the pituitary gland, responsible for stimulating the growth and development of eggs in women.
Multivitamins For Women
Some women’s multivitamins are developed specifically to meet the needs of the female athletes, and may help provide micronutrients that may be lacking when following a calorie-restricted diet or when high levels of activity or stress increase the body’s need for nutrients. Common constituents include:
- Calcium is a component of the skeleton and is important for blood clotting and nerve funtion. It is a nutrient where female athletes have higher needs, yet many active women do not get enough of this important nutrient.
- Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption and metabolism. Quite often, due to the nature of the busy career woman, we do not get enough natural vitamin D. Consequently, vitamin D through supplementation may be needed.
- Iron is essential for athletic performance, as it carries oxygen to and carbon dioxide away from all the cells in your body. Iron deficiency is a common problem for women athletes (and some women in general). Studies have shown that female athletes are often iron-deficient or anaemic.
- Folate (or folic acid) is a B group vitamin very important to women. Folate deficiency causes some generalised symptoms (poor apetite, weakness, etc), but also birth defects. Even if you are not considering motherhood, it is good practice for women of childbearing age to top up their levels of folate.
- Ostivone for bone support, taken daily it will help keep bones healthy.
- Soy isoflavones support healthy cholesterol balance, cardiovascular health, and bone health. Furthermore, it has been reported that soy isoflavones may reduce the risk of breast cancer (Kurzer, 2002)
Get Fit & Firm
Depending on your goals, there are many supplements that can help you achieve your training aims. Here is a breakdown of supplements for females broken down by goal for your convenience:
Fat Loss Supplements For Women
- Guggul Extract is a natural plant supplement enhancing the loss of body fat. This can be stacked with other supplements, but ensure that you start by taking 50% of the recommended dose at first then increasing your intake to a full dose once your tolerance level has been ascertained.
- Fat loss protein powder (low in carbs and fat).
- Thermogenics speed metabolism, increase appetite suppression, and burn bodyfat. These can come from a variety of natural sources such as Citrus Aurantium, pepper and green tea. Such ingredients have been found to be effective in aiding weight loss (Chantre & Lairon, 2002)
- L-carnitine (a naturally active nutrient found in small amounts in milk) or acetyl l-carnitine (abiologically active form of the Amino Acid, L-Carnitine).
- Guggul extract which promotes loss of stubborn fat via increased thyroid function.
- Fat metaboliser – in evening before sleep, include ingredients such as amino acids, acetyl methione, chloine, appetite suppressant l-phenalenaline.
- CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) for its body weight management properties, including body fat reduction and increasing lean muscle mass.
- Once you have dropped fat, and want to prepare for a completion, event or photo shoot, you can take a herbal diuretic to strip away excess subcutaneous water.
Body Sculpting Supplements For Women
- Women’s multivitamin (as above).
- Female protein powder – buy in larger tubs for more economical use or select a general protein powder, with a high protein and low fat formulation, this could be a WPI for consumption twice a day, or a blended protein which is complete and good tasting.
- Thermogenics (as above)
- L-carnitine, acetyl l-carnitine or guggul extract, or CLA.
- Night time protein formula (e.g. micellar casein) for sustained release of amino acids throughout the night. This helps to prevent your muscles from wasting away at night. A good muscle mass means a higher metabolism, which can help you stay looking toned.
- Meal replacement powders (in convenient sachets). These are good for when you want to cut down total calorie intake. Studies have shown that the use of meal replacements are effective in aiding in sustainable weight loss (Heymsfield, 2003). Additionally, these may be a good alternative for when you are too busy to eat.
- Protein bars – also a convenient source. There are bars specifically tailored for women available. Generally, these are high protein, high fibre, low carb, and low fat. The purpose of these bars is to provide a filling snack that helps to maintain muscle mass. The high protein and fibre content keep you fuller for longer. Despite coming in a range of yummy flavours, being low in carbs and fat means that these will not go right to your thighs.
General Health & Wellbeing Supplements For Women
- Women’s multivitamin (as above).
- Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) the building blocks of fats for a variety of benefits including skin health, ageing, depression, etc. (Choose a low mercury variety).
- Calcium and vitamin D supplement for bone health and to prevent osteoporosis. This is especially important in women, as the prevalence of osteoporosis is much high in women compared to men (Bonnick, 2006).
- A protein supplement, such as soy protein or a WPI for better performance.
Ballentyne (2003), Post Workout Nutrition For Girls, John Berardi
Bonnick (2006), Osteoporosis in men an women. Clin Cornerstone, 1: 28-39
Chantre & Lairon (2002), Recent findings of green tea extract AR25 (Exolise) and its activity for the treatment of obesity. Phytomedicine, 9: 3-8
Gaullier et al (2004), Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for 1 y reduces body fat mass in healthy overweight humans. Am J Clin Nutr, 79: 1118-1125
Heynmsfield et al (2003), Weight management using a meal replcement strategy: meta and pooling analysis from six studies. International Journal of Obesity. 27: 537-549
Kurzer (2002), Hormonal effects of soy in premenupausal women and men. J Nutr, 132: 570S-573S
Leand (2003), Secrets of Female Strength and Conditioning – Athletic Movement Training for the Female Athlete. GrrlAthlete.