Getting the right food into your body not only helps you feel good, but it also helps to increase muscle tone alongside regular cardio and strength training. However, it sometimes helps to include healthy supplements alongside your nutrition. Women in particular are likely to lose essential minerals and nutrients during exercise, and eating healthy foods alone may not replenish or enhance what your body needs.
B vitamins are particularly beneficial for the female body. An article in "California Agriculture" reports that B vitamins help with energy metabolism, boost fat loss and promote muscle repair. However, female athletes often have a low amount of B vitamins in their diet, which can lead to severe deficiencies in B-12 or folate. This can result in anemia, which results in severe fatigue and can affect how you perform athletically. Stock up on your orange juice and steak to incorporate B vitamins in your diet and keep energy stores up.
When pumping the iron, you might not realize your body could be carrying less than you need of the mineral iron. According to Colorado State University, female athletes in particular need iron supplements because of menstruation and strenuous exercise. This can cause amenorrhea, the absence of regular periods. Iron depletion can also cause weakness and fatigue, which shortens exercise capacity. Take care of your body by adding an iron supplement to your diet or eating more fruit and vegetables.
Whey Protein and Milk
Whey protein and milk have been shown to increase lean muscle mass and decrease fat mass in women, according to a study published in the October 2012 “Medicine and Sport Science.” Milk contains two high quality protein fractions, vitamin D and calcium, which not only support lean muscle mass production, but are essential for bone health. The wonderful thing about whey protein is that you can use it as a meal replacement that is high in protein, but low in fat and carbohydrates. You can mix whey protein with milk, giving your body an even more powerful boost of calcium and other essential nutrients to promote lean muscle mass and preserve your bones.
Creatine can have positive effects when used to increase muscle strength and enhanced body composition. According to a study by “Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research,” female collegiate soccer players supplemented with creatine for 13 weeks during their off-season. The results showed an increase in strength as well as in lean tissue during their training. Creatine has a bad rep when it comes to women’s supplementation: It has been known to cause bloating in women -- not just regular menstrual cycle bloating, but some pretty massive water retention. However, according to an article in “Muscle & Fitness Hers,” this is most likely due to improper use. To avoid the bloat, stay away from sugary and processed foods.
- “Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research”; The Effect of Creatine Supplementation on Muscle Strength and Body Composition During Off-Season Training in Female Soccer Players; D. Enette Larson-Meyer et al.
- “California Agriculture”; Proper Nutrition Can Prevent Negative Health Outcomes in Young Female Athletes; M.T. Barrack, M.D. Van Loan et al.
- “Medicine and Sport Science”; Impact of Milk Consumption and Resistance Training on Body Composition of Female Athletes; A.R. Josse, S.M. Phillips et al.
Danielle Clark has been a writer since 2009, specializing in environmental and health and fitness topics. She has contributed to magazines and several online publications. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology and environmental science.