Female Fitness: Special Considerations for Active Women
For female athletes and fitness gurus out there, heeding to popular advice about diet, energy, and even supplemental needs as they pertain to your level of fitness may not actually be in your best interest. In regards to gauging what your body needs in response to the physical stress of exercise, the needs of you, as a woman, are not the same as they are for men. To anticipate and address your needs as a female fitness guru, make sure the information you seek speaks directly to your needs not only as an active person, but also as a woman.
It is probably a given that most women exercise to live healthy lives, decrease their risk of certain diseases, also to boost their self-confidence. But another reason that a lot of women become active is to lose weight. Active women who adapt low calorie diets to lose weight need to be aware that if their caloric intake is too low they are putting themselves at risk not only for vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, but also for stress fractures, low energy levels and the disruption of their menstrual cycles. Healthy female fitness should include adequate energy intake, which varies from person to person. Make sure your meals are timed around your workouts, allowing you enough time to eat a meal or snack before you hit the gym. The key to optimal fitness as a female is appropriate energy intake.
In regards to strength training for female fitness, a common myth that women often fall prey to is the notion that using added weight for resistance exercises will cause a substantial gain in muscle mass. Many people believe that using lighter weights with fewer repetitions is the best way to tone up the female body without bulking up, but the truth is that in order to increase your overall strength you're better off gradually increasing the weight you're using for your exercises. As long as you're mixing strength training and cardiovascular exercises you won't bulk up without an excess of caloric intake.
Even if you're not taking in a high number of calories each day to add muscle weight, many women use sports drinks, gels, bars, powders, etc. to supplement their workouts. While these products can be a very convenient way to meet your energy needs before and after a workout, women still need to pay attention to the content of the products they're using. Recent trends in female fitness information seem to send the general message that consuming carbohydrates is bad, and ramping up your protein consumption is more conducive to becoming leaner. But your body needs carbohydrates before and after exercise, more so than it needs protein in that period of time. Not consuming enough carbohydrates before or after exercise will impair your body's ability to recover from exercise, and to perform in the future.