Amenorrhea & Athletes: 3 Tips For Females to Get Their Period Back

Amenorrhea & Athletes: 3 Tips For Females to Get Their Period Back

 

Relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S) is the consequence of low-energy availability (LEA) in athletes, adversely affecting an athletes’ performance and health. RED-S can occur in both males and females, negatively impacting normal growth and development, hormonal health, bone health, ability to recover, strength and endurance, and even mental health. The Female Athlete Triad refers to a cluster of three RED-S symptoms originally identified in females, including low energy intake, menstrual disruptions, and low bone mineral density (BMD). It is imperative to prevent the Female Athlete Triad before it spirals into severe interruptions with bone strength, performance, long-term health, and fertility. 

 

What is Low Energy Intake (LEA) and how does it occur?

  • LEA can be intentional or unintentional, occurring when an athlete consumes fewer calories than her body requires for growth, development, and athletic performance. LEA is often associated with ‘disordered eating’ and in severe cases can lead to an eating disorder.
  • Menstrual cycle disruption is the most critical impact of LEA in females. When a female athlete stops getting her period for at least 3 months, this is referred to as ‘amenorrhea.’ Prolonged amenorrhea can negatively impact fertility and bone health.
  • Many athletes choose to intentionally restrict or limit their intake in hopes of “improving performance”. This is especially common in runners and dancers, where the mentality “lighter is faster” is prevalent but extremely damaging.
  • Some athletes may just be unsure of how many calories they should consume to meet the demands of their sport, leading to unintentional LEA. Many athletes eat enough calories to sustain basic hormone function but are not eating enough to fuel sport performance and recovery!
  • The effects of LEA fall into two categories: sociocultural and physiological. Athletes are at a much higher risk for LEA from sociocultural factors, including social media, sport-specific body image stereotypes, and pressure from coaches, teammates, and themselves on looking a certain way. These can all provide a false belief that the athlete will have greater performance outcomes by fitting into these sociocultural standards.
  • Inadequate nutrition intake, leading to LEA, is problematic because the athlete has insufficient energy to fuel the body. For example, if a female athlete only consumes 1,800 kcal per day but uses 3,500 kcal, she is consuming 1,700 kcal LESS than her body NEEDS! In this scenario, the athlete will not have enough energy, impairing performance, growth, and development; it also puts her at heightened risk for illness, injury, impaired fertility, or a life-threatening eating disorder. 
  • At-Risk Sports: cross-country, distance running, cross-country skiing, wrestling, rowing, gymnastics, figure skating, dance, and weight-class sports.

 

Important future considerations

  • The long-term negative effects of amenorrhea can impact fertility as women age. 
  • Women need adequate calories to achieve enough of energy reserve to promote fertility.
  • Women must have enough body fat to produce leptin for reproduction and proper functioning of the ovaries.
  • Scientist Rose Frisch proposed a body fatness theory of fertility in which women need to have at least 17% body fat to menstruate and about 22% body fat for fertility.

Fill out our athlete assessment form HERE and we can reach out to you for a consultation with one of our registered dietitians and sports nutritionists to help you with a plan. 

How does menstrual health impact bone health?

Physical activity, specifically resistance training can have a positive impact on bone development. However, in cases of the female athlete triad or low energy availability, BMD may be low. This low BMD can be attributed to low levels of the hormone, estrogen, which plays a crucial role in bone health! Further, with inadequate calorie intake, athletes may be missing significant micronutrients like vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium, which support strong bones. Low BMD can increase the risk of bone stress injuries, including stress reactions and stress fractures, as well as osteoporosis. 

 

Pro Tip: Test, don’t guess! If you or your student-athlete have concerns about menstruation, bone health, and estrogen levels, reach out to a doctor for blood tests. 

Recovery of a menstrual cycle takes time but is significant for overall health as well as injury prevention and athletic performance.

 

Three ways we help female athletes regain their period:

  1. Increased calories (eating in an energy surplus) for 3-6 months, with a focus on adequate healthy dietary fats and eating frequently (avoiding periods of fasting)
  2. Reducing training volume and permitting healthy weight gain
  3. Log nutrition and track period symptoms 

We teach our athletes that all foods fit! Most athletes need upwards of 3,500 + kcal to support health, training, and recovery demands.Person first and athlete second. We must help female athletes develop a healthy relationship with food!

If you are a parent of a young female athlete or coach that works with female athletes be sure to refer out to a registered dietitian. Female athletes have special considerations and hormone health should always be a top priority. We have worked with several female runners and competitive athletes to regain their period.  It is not normal to lose your cycle for several months. We can work with your program or athlete to regain their cycle via a custom nutrition plan and ongoing coaching.

Female athletes need 3-4 balanced meals coupled with 2-3 snacks on training days. You can’t race like a beast if you eat like a bird!

 

 

 

 

 

 

In good health, wellness, and performance,

Sophia, Brenna, and Wendi your NWW team!

 

The Nutrition with Wendi team utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. We partner with parents, athletes, health professionals, and individuals and offer elite nutrition and health guidance for optimal athletic performance, injury, and disease reduction.  We provide virtual services including telehealth but are based in Nashville, TN. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more nutrition information. Services booking here to consult with Wendi for a team talk or QA session.


Resources:

 

Cabre, H. E., Moore, S. R., Smith-Ryan, A. E., & Hackney, A. C. (2022). Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S): Scientific, Clinical, and Practical Implications for the Female Athlete. Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Sportmedizin, 73(7), 225–234. https://doi.org/10.5960/dzsm.2022.546

Gimunová, M., Paulínyová, A., Bernaciková, M., & Paludo, A. C. (2022). The Prevalence of Menstrual Cycle Disorders in Female Athletes from Different Sports Disciplines: A Rapid Review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(21), 14243. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192114243

Márquez, S., & Molinero, O. (2013). Energy availability, menstrual dysfunction and bone health in sports; an overview of the female athlete triad. Nutricion hospitalaria, 28(4), 1010–1017. https://doi.org/10.3305/nh.2013.28.4.6542

Sims, S. T., Kerksick, C. M., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Janse de Jonge, X. A. K., Hirsch, K. R., Arent, S. M., Hewlings, S. J., Kleiner, S. M., Bustillo, E., Tartar, J. L., Starratt, V. G., Kreider, R. B., Greenwalt, C., Rentería, L. I., Ormsbee, M. J., VanDusseldorp, T. A., Campbell, B. I., Kalman, D. S., & Antonio, J. (2023). International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutritional concerns of the female athlete. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 20(1), 2204066. https://doi.org/10.1080/15502783.2023.2204066

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023, May 17). Bone mineral density tests: What the numbers mean. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/bone-mineral-density-tests-what-numbers-mean

von Rosen, P., Ekenros, L., Solli, G. S., Sandbakk, Ø., Holmberg, H. C., Hirschberg, A. L., & Fridén, C. (2022). Offered Support and Knowledge about the Menstrual Cycle in the Athletic Community: A Cross-Sectional Study of 1086 Female Athletes. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(19), 11932. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191911932

 

Fueling the Gluten Free Athlete

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein naturally found in grains like wheat, rye, as well as barley. Gluten contributes to the texture and shape of foods made from these grains.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition that leads to reactions when eating the protein gluten. Symptoms include, but are not limited to gastrointestinal distress (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), abdominal pain, a rash, and malnutrition.

Should I Avoid Gluten?

Those with diagnosed Celiac Disease, gluten ataxia, non-celiac disease gluten sensitivity (gluten intolerance), or wheat allergies should avoid gluten! Otherwise gluten is safe to eat and there is no need to avoid it! 

Research supports that there are no improvements in performance resulting from abstaining from gluten in non-celiac athletes. Further, research in the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Journal supports that gluten-free foods do not offer a “nutritional advantage” over gluten-containing foods.

Gluten-Free Athlete Tips:

  1. Check food labels. Gluten “friendly” and gluten-free are not the same thing. The safest bet is always certified gluten-free!
  1. Consider food prep and processing. Foods that may naturally be gluten-free may become contaminated with gluten through prep. 
  1. Communicate! Let others know about your allergy, especially at restaurants. 
  1. Don’t cut out grains! Just swap for new ones.
  1. Be consistent with gluten-free fueling! It may be tempting to reintroduce gluten into your diet, but if you’re diagnosed with Celiac Disease, the treatment is lifelong a gluten-free diet.

Brands We Love:

There are plenty of gluten options for fueling! Some personal favorites are – Kind, Purely Elisabeth, Canyon Bakehouse, Kodiak Cake GF Pancake mix

Grains that are Naturally Gluten Free: corn, rice, quinoa, tapioca, buckwheat, flax, millet, amaranth, sorghum

*sourdough has low gluten content due to fermentation but is not 100% gluten-free 

Want to know more? Check out this post on Gluten Free Fueling Options on our NWW Coaching Instagram. Book a FREE call with a registered dietitian to ensure you are eating enough calories to support your training and recovery! 

 

 

  1. Devrim-Lanpir, A., Hill, L., & Knechtle, B. (2021). Efficacy of Popular Diets Applied by Endurance Athletes on Sports Performance: Beneficial or Detrimental? A Narrative Review. Nutrients, 13(2), 491. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13020491
  2. Niland, B., & Cash, B. D. (2018). Health Benefits and Adverse Effects of a Gluten-Free Diet in Non-Celiac Disease Patients. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 14(2), 82–91.
  3. What is Celiac Disease? | Celiac Disease Foundation
  4. What Is Gluten and What Does It Do? | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Nutrition for the Wrestling Student-Athlete

Wrestling requires a great deal of power, technique, swiftness, and endurance to outcompete their opponents. Matches can be short or long with many going into overtime extending beyond 10 minutes. This can be brutal if the athlete is under-fed and under-fueled because of weight cutting or calorie restriction.

Maintaining, gaining, or losing weight does not have to undercut performance. Your eating and fueling habits should support your training, performance, and overall recovery.

This article provides quick tips on how wrestling student-athletes should be eating and fueling in pre-season. I will also provide insight on how to eat to maintain energy and strength, as well as what to pack for wrestling tournaments. 


𝐏𝐫𝐞-𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐧𝐮𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐛𝐢𝐠𝐠𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐰𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫.

  • Aim for 1.4-1.8 g/kg/BW/day of protein.
    • 𝑭𝒐𝒓 𝒂 150-𝒑𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒅 (68 𝒌𝒈) 𝒉𝒊𝒈𝒉 𝒔𝒄𝒉𝒐𝒐𝒍 𝒘𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒕𝒍𝒆𝒓, 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒆𝒒𝒖𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒔 𝒕𝒐 𝒃𝒆𝒕𝒘𝒆𝒆𝒏 95 𝒂𝒏𝒅 122 𝒈𝒓𝒂𝒎𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒕𝒆𝒊𝒏 𝒑𝒆𝒓 𝒅𝒂𝒚.
    • Focus on building a plate that contains protein, carbs, produce, healthy fats, and hydration. See an example of our athlete performance plates based on goal below. You can also download my nutrient timing and athlete’s plate PDF HERE.
  • Do NOT overly restrict kcal if you are trying to lose weight. 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬/𝐩𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐭-𝐰𝐞𝐢𝐠𝐡-𝐢𝐧𝐬? -Carbs + protein before and after weigh-ins -Limit fiber, sodium, and starchy carbs immediately before weigh-ins
  • 𝗗𝗼 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗹𝗼𝘀𝗲 𝘄𝗲𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗯𝘆 𝗰𝘂𝘁𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼𝗼 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗸𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗼𝗿 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗹𝘆 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗰𝘁 𝗼𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗻𝘂𝘁𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻. 𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝗽 𝗹𝗼𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝘂𝘀𝗰𝗹𝗲, 𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗶𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵 𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗴-𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗺. 

Losing fat and making weight the right way

Calorie, protein, fat, and carbohydrate recommendations:
  • Carbohydrate needs range from (1-3 g/kg/bw/day).
  • Protein needs vary based on goals, training, and intensity but the right place to start is (1.4-1.8 g/kg/bw/day).
  • Fat recommendations include (0.8 1.0 g/kg/bw/day).

  • If you’re trying to lose fat you increase the fruit/veggies on your plate which are lower in kcal and increase your protein. See how these two performance plates are different. The plate on the right is maintained given the portion of carbs is greater. Carbs are a higher energy source and if we do not use them we store them. If you are trying to lose fat you need less kcal/less carbs. In doing so you will be able to eat in a kcal deficit by increasing protein which supports satiety.
  • Weight loss versus fat loss is explained in greater detail HERE.
  • You must be in a kcal deficit to lose fat. Track your nutrition in My Fitness Pal or a nutrition tracker.

 


What to eat before and after weigh-ins

See a sample wrestling menu here.

You have to PLAN AHEAD! If you don’t plan your meals and snacks in advance you’re less likely to eat the right foods. Want to be a champion? Do the planning in advance. Opportunity favors the prepared!! You never know how long a match will be.

You will need to fuel before you hit the mat. Nothing too heavy just enough carbs and calories to give you the burst of energy to compete. We recommend dried fruit, a 100% fruit bar, 1/2 turkey sandwich, a sports drink, and 1/2 bagel. See the options listed.

Dual meets and tournaments can be long. Bring sports drinks as a simple option to replace carbs and offer additional sodium, potassium, and magnesium that help with muscle contraction.

 


Fueling Wrestling Tournaments

  • Choosing to dehydrate one’s body to gain weight is a common practice but it should not be. Dehydrating your body leads to a negative impact on strength, stamina, power, and overall performance. YOU WILL FATIGUE FASTER if you are dehydrated. You can also risk damaging skeletal muscle, cardiovascular function, and physiological stress.
  • Click here for my hydration recommendations.
  • 1-2% of dehydration can result in loss of speed, power, strength, and agility. Click here for tips on preventing dehydration.
  • It is very important to avoid high fat. NO SOLID FOOD IN THE STOMACH AT COMPETITION TIME. Blood flow will go to your stomach for digestion and not your extremities to take down your opponent.  If ample time is not given to digest the fuel you also can’t even access it for energy.

 

Pair carbs + with protein between matches at a tournament. In doing so you will have enough quick fuel if needed to maintain energy for a full day. This will also help you avoid dips in blood sugar from restricting kcal. Candy bars and chocolate milk are NOT good pre-wrestling options.

Treat yourself post-meet with a serving of your favorite item. Chocolate milk is post-recovery NEVER BEFORE! Core power protein shakes are something you would sip in if you have 1-2 hours between. Be smart. Use common sense. Use foods that you know digest well to avoid getting sick.

 


In summary

  • Follow a nutrition plan that supports your weight class, energy, recovery, and overall goals.
  • Journal your nutrition in an app to see what nutrients you might need more or less of. If you’re trying to gain eat in a kcal surplus by adding 500 kcal. If you are trying to lose eat in a kcal deficit by consuming 500 kcal less per day.
  • Eat enough high-quality protein (beef, eggs, fish, chicken, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese) to support muscle growth, maintenance, and satiety.
  • Drink enough water and ensure you have sufficient minerals in your body. See a previous blog on how to avoid cramping HERE.
  • Pre-season fueling is your opportunity to gain a competitive edge over your opponents. Do not skip meals, find a way to power up with protein + produce.
  • The habits you follow in your youth WILL often carry into adulthood. So be mindful of your choices and habits.
  • Get enough sleep to ensure your body can recover from training and competition. 7-9 hours is ideal and if you put away distractions and electronics you will get better quality sleep.
  • Creatine should not be used mid-season due to weight fluctuations. I would recommend adding creatine in pre-season and being consistent with a 3-5 g serving. Read more on creatine here.
  • For sports nutrition coaching, presentations, resources, and guidance contact us! See what we offer below! Good luck this season!

How can we work together?

  • If you are looking for a team talk or presentation we are now booking for the remainder of 2023. Check out our performance nutrition partnership HERE.
  • Health and performance guidebook that has over 160 resources including meal plans and tip sheets HERE.
  • Apply for coaching whether you’re an athlete or an adult needing help and support. Click here
  • Help your athletes, coaches, and community understand the fundamentals of fueling, sleep, recovery, and weight gain via our student-athlete coaching programs. Details are available HERE.

 


In good health and performance,

Coach Wendi

Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN,  LD, CISSN  is a registered dietitian nutritionist and performance coach. Wendi utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. She and her team partner with parents, sports performance staff, and special needs and recreational athletes to offer nutritional guidance and optimal athletic performance and lifestyle plans. Wendi provides virtual services including telehealth but is based in Nashville, TN.  Wendi and her team work primarily with high school and college athletes!

What can hiring a sports nutritionist offer your program? Learn more here.  Interested in signing up for the NEW and upcoming NWW newsletter? Click here to sign up!

 

Performance Nutrition Tips for Baseball Athletes

“I want to play in the NFL or MLB”. -Athletes that skip breakfast and barely eat 2 meals per day while snacking on candy and drinking energy drinks. Those same athletes are often sleeping < 6 hours per night. Talent will only get you so far in sports and in life.  If you are a high school or college athlete that views proper nutrition as a chore or punishment…. Make a choice to retrain and CHANGE your mindset to view sleep and nutrition as an OPPORTUNITY. An opportunity to gain muscle, strength, speed, stamina, and pummel your competitors!

If you want to be great you can’t rely on mediocre habits to get you there. You’ll break down and get outpaced along the way. How do we know? The data doesn’t lie. According to statistics:

  • Just 1.6% of college players will become a professional in the NFL. 10.5% of NCAA senior male baseball players will get drafted by an MLB team.
  • Approximately 1 in 200, or approximately 0.5 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team.

If you’re striking out at the plate you might be striking out in your nutrition and sleep. What you eat directly influences your mood, concentration, energy levels, speed, power, focus, endurance, and performance.

The tips I outline in this blog are going to HELP you gain the competitive edge you train so hard for. That means you can’t eat Skittles and 1/2 a sandwich at lunch and expect to be bigger, faster, or stronger.

Remember, athletes do not diet and exercise. They fuel and train.

Performance adaptations can’t occur if you’re not eating quality calories rich in vitamins and minerals as well as protein to repair and rebuild.


Rule number 1: Aim for 7-11 hours of sleep. Sleep is king. Student-athletes need more sleep. This isn’t new information. Sleep is king and nutrition is queen.  Never stay up late for something you would not get up early for.

 

If you would not get up at 4 a.m. to scroll the news or social media why would you stay up till midnight doing such toxic things? Poor sleep habits hinder your health and performance. As a sports dietitian sleep is my first concern when speaking with a program, coach, athlete, or parents of young athletes. How much we sleep influences our appetite as well as testosterone levels. If you have time for social media you have time for sleep.  If you want to get stronger and faster start getting your sleep!

“If you need a pre-workout for energy you likely aren’t eating enough, hydrating, or getting proper sleep.” Share this video with someone who needs to hear this message.

Feel free to share my sleep tweets with those who need a reminder on priorities. Do you want to be great? Get your sleep! If you can’t get the full 7 try adding in a nap. Research supports that a 20-90 min nap can improve performance.

BASEBALL PERFORMANCE TIP SHEET DOWNLOAD HERE


Rule number 2: Test don’t guess! Start logging your nutrition. How do you know if you’re eating enough protein, carbs, and calories to support your energy and training demands? We always have our athletes log their nutrition so they can see for themselves how little or how much they are eating.  Many athletes claim they can’t gain weight but they fail to eat breakfast let alone 100 g of protein in a day.

Log in to My Fitness Pal, pen and paper, and use a Word document or another free app. We can’t change or improve what we do not know. When an athlete sees they are only consuming 2,000 kcal per day and they are trying to gain weight the connection and motivation is made that change is required. If nothing changes nothing changes.

See my weight-gain blog tips here or pick up a copy of my weight-gain guide for guidance. Here’s a baseball athlete’s grocery list for easy grocery shopping!

 

Creatine monohydrate guide DOWNLOAD HERE


NWW systems work!

  • Sac State baseball athlete was able to add 24 lbs. to his frame in 5 months. Read here how Ryan gained weight in the off-season.
  • 13 YO baseball athlete gains 58 lbs. over the course of two years working with me. Read how Eli added muscle and strength using our nutrition plan here.
  • Texas HS baseball coach shares the benefits of my Baseball Nutrition 101 presentation to educate his athletes on pre-workout meals, recovery nutrition, and how to improve strength.
  • Recently I delivered a baseball nutrition 101 to the Southern Baseball Academy. We discussed muscle gain, pre-workout, post-workout, fueling game day, and how supplements do not contain the same high-quality amino acids as whole foods. This is something I discuss in every single high school, college, and semi-pro presentation. If you’re not seeing strength or performance results you likely aren’t eating enough high-quality protein or sufficient calories. See the muscle gain dinner example here.

 

Calorie, protein, fat, and carbohydrate recommendations:

  • Carbohydrate needs range from (3 to 5 g/kg/bw/day).
  • Protein needs vary based on goals, training, and intensity but the right place to start is (1.4-1.8 g/kg/bw/day).
  • Fat recommendations include 1.0 g/kg/bw/day).

This means a 150 lb. 68 kg athlete requires: 205-340 g of carbs, 95-122 g of protein, and 68 g of fat. It is quite simple to break this down into 3 meals and 2 snacks using the performance plate as a guide. All meals matter. If you consume 3 meals per day at roughly 25-30 g of protein and 10-15 g of protein at snacks you’re meeting your needs. Fuelingstrategy!


You have to PLAN AHEAD! If you don’t plan your meals and snacks in advance you’re less likely to eat the right foods. Want to be a champion? Do the planning in advance. Opportunity favors the prepared!! You never know how long a baseball game will last. Extra innings, rain delay, or other circumstances.

  • Plan to have quick-digesting carbs and a little bit of protein on hand for the dugout or the bus! We recommend dried fruit, a 100% fruit bar, 1/2 turkey sandwich, sports drink, and 1/2 bagel. See more options below.

Rule 3: Hydration, pre-workout, and refueling post-workout

  • Hydration is one of the most overlooked aspects of health and performance. For every lb. lost during training and games replace with 16-24 oz. of fluid.
  • Click here for my hydration recommendations.
  • 1-2% of dehydration can result in loss of speed, power, strength, and agility. Click here for tips on preventing dehydration.
  • 7 hydration tips here 
  • Fueling your workout
  • NCAA regulations on pre-workouts?-learn more here
  • Refueling post-workout and why you should use chocolate milk here.
  • Baseball nutrition tip sheet

In summary

Increase your pro sports odds by: eating 3-5 balanced meals daily sleeping 7-9 hours nightly avoiding pre-workouts and eating carbs + protein before and after workouts. Train hard and train smart! Habits are hard to break but you need to change your routine in order to change your life.

Don’t forget to rest and prioritize recovery with 80-100 oz water daily and avoid soda supplements with a 3rd party tested creatine monohydrate (helps reduce injury risk, helps muscle maintenance, growth, and recovery). Stay away from drugs, alcohol, vaping, chewing tobacco, and negative influences. If athletes followed these tips they would be their best.

How can we work together?

  • If you are looking for a team talk or presentation we are now booking for the remainder of 2023. Check out our performance nutrition partnership HERE.
  • Health and performance guidebook HERE.
  • Apply for coaching whether you’re an athlete or an adult needing help and support. Click here
  • Help your athletes, coaches, and community understand the fundamentals of fueling, sleep, recovery, and weight gain via our student-athlete coaching programs. Details are available HERE.

In good health and performance,

Coach Wendi

Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN,  LD, CISSN  is a registered dietitian nutritionist and performance coach. Wendi utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. She and her team partner with parents, sports performance staff, and special needs and recreational athletes to offer nutritional guidance and optimal athletic performance and lifestyle plans. Wendi provides virtual services including telehealth but is based in Nashville, TN.  Wendi works with clients of all levels internationally.

What can hiring a sports nutritionist offer your program? Learn more here.  Interested in signing up for the NEW and upcoming NWW newsletter? Click here to sign up!

 

3 Tips for Avoiding Muscle Cramps on Game Day!

 

In my 10+ years of experience working with youth, collegiate, and masters level competitors there are really three types of athletes. Athletes who are prone to cramping, those who have cramped, and those who will. Our goal is to prevent cramping, reduce the occurrence of cramping, and Lord willing minimize the cramps with these three considerations.

 

  1. Water and minerals. Inadequate fluid. Drink water early and often! We wake up in a dehydrated state.  Place a water bottle by your bed to wake up and drink water. Set alarms on your phone to hydrate every few hours. Hydration is controllable.  Athletes need roughly 80-100 oz of fluid daily.  This does not account for the minerals we NEED including potassium, calcium, sodium, chloride, and magnesiumLosses during training, games, and hot climate increases fluid and mineral demand. 7 Tips for Hydration here.
      • Consume 20 oz of fluid every 2 hours leading up to game time.
      • Fuel tip: The night before a game have 1/2 an avocado at dinner. Avocados have more potassium than bananas. The potassium levels are almost double!
      • One avocado contains 975 milligrams of potassium, compared to 487 milligrams in a banana.
      • Most muscle cramps are also related to magnesium depletion. Adequate magnesium can help with muscle contraction and relaxation. The RDA for magnesium for adults:
        -Men: 400–420 mg
        -Women: 310–320 mg

        • Magnesium deficiency signs and foods rich in magnesium click here.
        • Magnesium supplementation may be necessary if you’re not consuming sufficient meat and veggies.
      • Some athletes are heavy sweaters and will expel more minerals in their sweat than others. A simple way to test if you or an athlete is a heavy or salty sweater is touching your jersey during/after training. Ensure you’re sipping on sports drinks or an electrolyte mix if you’re prone to cramping. Hotter temperatures will increase the rate at which electrolytes are expelled
        • Is it crusty and drenched? You are likely a heavy sweater and you will also feel the sodium on your face.
        • A hydration video tip to download and share with your student-athletes.
      • Replace every lb. lost during training with 16-24 oz of fluid.
  2. Pre-competition fueling 
      • Athletes often fail to consume enough carbs and calories. Carbs fuel muscle and the brain. A drop in blood sugar leads to a drop in performance. Low-carb diets also decrease sodium and water in the kidneys! 
      • Athletes should be consuming on average 3-5 g of carbs/kg/bw/day to support training demands and optimize recovery.  This means if you weigh 165 lbs or 75 kg . you need a minimum of 225 -375 g of carbs daily.
        • Athletes doing more endurance work or training more hours per week need even more. 5-7 g/kg/bw/day for soccer, field hockey, basketball, and other athletes trying to gain weight! This means that the same 165 lb 75 kg athlete would need 375-525 g of carbs per day!
          • Bagels, rice, pitas, oats, pretzels, fruit, potatoes, dates, honey, and other grains are excellent sources of carbs.
      • The maximum glycogen storage a human can accumulate is between 400-500 grams. Since 1 gram of carbs equals 4 kcal, you will top out at about 1,600-2,000 kcal in your glycogen storage fuel tank.
        • Muscle strength, speed, and contractility decrease when blood glucose levels drop or when glycogen is rapidly depleted. This can happen quickly in multisport athletes as well as endurance athletes.  Athlete nutrition cheat sheet here.
      • Use my chew-nibble-sip fueling strategy to ensure you’re consuming adequate carbs, minerals, and calories leading up to game time. A simple breakdown is found here.
      • Bananas, string cheese, Greek yogurt, and sweet potatoes are great sources of minerals like potassium, and contain sodium to assist with preventing muscle cramps and fatigue. Utilize electrolyte packets pre-, during, and post-event.
      • Too often athletes under-fuel leading up to games and events due to their inability to stomach solid food. Liquid carbs like sports drinks, tart cherry juice, and coconut water can be a great way to fill the glycogen tank prior to an event.
      • Download my 4-2-1 Fueling PDF for FREE HERE
  3. Training/game day warm-up
      • For the strength and sports coaches, this may seem obvious but it is a consideration that we must address. Athletes can cramp due to being undertrained, under-conditioned, or new to the sport. This happens with many young football players in fact. Coaches send me emails all the time with their JV or middle school programs with this concern. We must think beyond electrolytes and carbs to truly identify the source of cramping.
      • The condition of the athlete and their recovery from days trained that week or in previous events can play a role in cramping. Not to mention if the athlete is properly conditioned. Especially after the dog days of camp.

A tip we provide our athletes, coaches, and parents on preventing and treating cramps.

Science illustrates sodium can be absorbed and affect the body’s sodium concentration at a faster rate when spicy/bitter/vinegary smells and tastes are introduced. In fact, this tactic helps reduce the muscular impulse of over-excited contracted nerve impulses that lead to muscle cramping. This tactic can also aid in reducing the occurrence of muscle cramping and/or shorten the duration of the cramping episode according to a study carried out by Miller et al., 2010 published in Medicine and Science and Sports and Exercise.

The acid in the pickle juice, vinegar, and mustard does help alleviate cramps, the study concluded. A cramp induced by researchers lasted two minutes on average. Those cramps lasted 30 seconds shorter when test subjects drank pickle juice during the experiment. When subjects drank water, there was no change. The acid is what assisted with reducing the length of the cramps. Not the “salt”. This is critical for people to understand because there’s a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding in sports.

 

Cramps are a result of many factors. Dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, lack of carbohydrates, and a nervous system overt stimuli or misfiring. It is best to work with a sports dietitian to find ways to ensure your athletes are eating enough leading up to games, hydrating properly, getting sufficient sleep, and warming up properly with correct progression. You may not always be able to avoid cramping but you can certainly minimize it with these tips. Wendi’s health and performance slide deck contains hydration, fueling, and recovery graphics. Get a copy here

 

In good health, faith, and fitness

-Wendi A. Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN

The Nutrition with Wendi team utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. We partner with parents, athletes, health professionals, and individuals and offer elite nutrition and health guidance for optimal athletic performance, injury, and disease reduction.  We provide virtual services including telehealth but are based in Nashville, TN. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more nutrition information. Services booking here to consult with Wendi for a team talk or QA session.

 

Healthy Family Summer Recipe’s

Summer is HERE!!  You can find tasty ways to enjoy a healthy dish or simple recipe on the go or with friends or on your way to a tournament!!

 

Check out our Healthy Family Summer Recipes below!

  • Chipotle Bowls for easy meal prep and a way to eat the “Rainbow”.
  • Headed to a party? The Texas Caviar is a tasty dip that is FIBER rich and bright in color.
  • For a lighter meal, our Zucchini Boats incorporate a little coconut for a Fresh summer taste. Hanging with the girls for a pool day?
  • Try our Grapefruit Paloma Mocktail!  Last, but does not lack in taste, the Protein Mango Sorbet!  Make this one Fresh or make it in bulk and freeze it in containers as a grab-and-go Tasty  Treat!

 

 

Download your FREE ebook below.

Healthy Family Summer Recipe’s

 


All foods fit but be mindful of your choices! Healthy food = a healthy body!

To book a discovery call with an NWW Coach to discuss your goals click the Booking Link Here!

 

Nutrition Tips for Student-Athletes with ADHD

Do you, your child, or someone you know struggle with ADHD? Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopment disorder involving inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness

How does ADHD impact nutrition?

The impulsivity and inattention related to ADHD can increase the prevalence of binging or overeating. It can increase difficulty in planning meals, remembering to eat, appetite changes, impulse food decisions, and more.

How does Nutrition Impact ADHD?

  • Although ADHD is not considered curable there are some nutritional things you can do to help manage it. While the effect of food on ADHD symptoms is inconclusive – diet can help improve mood and behavior. 
  • ADHD Medication is a stimulant that can reduce your appetite. On the flip side, with one of the medications, you may find yourself extremely hungry and craving foods high in sugar and fat. How to navigate this? 
  • Plan meals ahead of time and Pack Protein + Carbs
    • Eggs + Cuties
    • Cheese Stick + Grapes
    • Yogurt + Berries
    • Hummus + Carrots
  • Eat small frequent meals while appetite is low.
    • Smoothies
    • Whole-Fat Dairy 
  • Work with an NWW Nutrition Coach to build habits
  • Eat with the intent to regulate blood sugars 
    • Low and High Blood sugars can increase difficulty concentrating, Dizziness, irritable, and food cravings.
    • Work With a NWW Coach to know What, When, and How much to eat to feel best! (Student-athlete coaching)

Nutrition Interactions 

  • If you are on medications, it is super important to work with your Doctor, Dietitian, or Med Provider to see review these concerns.
  • Foods that contain large amounts of citric acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) may prevent the absorption of certain ADHD Medications. 

ADHD and Eating Disorder Prevalence: 

  • Research from Biederman, J., et al. (2010), indicates that adolescent females with ADHD are 3.6 times more likely to develop an ED and 5.6 times more likely to develop bulimia nervosa.
  • One Sample from Mattos, P. et al (2004), found that 10.4% of participants with ADHD experienced an ED, most commonly binge eating disorder [3]

WHY? 

“One theory is that there is a neurological basis for both ADHD and binge/pure EDs. Researchers believe that individuals with either/both disorders have a “lack of dopamine-based natural reward,” leading to impulsive behaviors such as hyperactivity and/or binge eating “[1].

How to raise dopamine?

  • Avoid Alcohol
  • Healthy Diet
  • Limit highly processed foods
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get some Sunshine
  • Sleep 8-9 hours
  • Fun activities
  • Meditate or practice yoga

 

In good health, faith, and fitness

Nutrition with Wendi Team

To book a discovery call with an NWW Coach to discuss your goals click the Booking Link Here!

_________________________________________________

[1] Bleck, J et al. (2015). Underlying mechanisms and trajectory of comorbid ADHD and eating disorders: proposing an innovative systems framework for informing research. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 14: 449-458.

[2] Biederman, J., et al. (2010). Adult psychiatric outcomes of girls with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: 11-year follow-up in a longitudinal case-control study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 409-417.

[3] Mattos, P. et al (2004). Comorbid eating disorders in a brazilian attention deficit/hyperactivity adult clinical sample. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, 248-250.

 

 

Fueling the XC/Track and Field Student Athlete

 

Track & Field athletes compete in one or more events that consist of running, throwing, and jumping. Track and field competitors train for strength, speed, power, and endurance and require adequate nutrition and hydration to support the demands of the sport. In order to excel in the season of season nutrition, sleep, recovery, and overall habits are critical.

Track & field/ XC athletes require a high amount of calories, carbohydrates, and sufficient protein. The number of calories, carbs, protein, and fat will depend on the phase of training, along with the intensity, and whether the athlete is in season, pre-season, or in the off-season. The athlete’s performance plate is a simple place to start. Portions will vary based on the athlete’s goals and training phase respectively.

Carbohydrate requirements in the health and fitness industry are constantly being debated. Randomized control trial studies which are the gold standard for research support the notion endurance athletes require carbohydrates for optimal performance.

Regardless, the carb conundrum continues on leading to significant confusion amongst both young, college, and even masters athletes. I can’t tell you how many countless conversations I have had with fellow dietitians, practitioners, and sports scientists about this carbohydrate debacle. 

 

Several keto and carnivore physicians are making the water even more muddled with their banter on carb needs for competitive athletes and even young athletes without respect to context. I have written many blogs about fueling young athletes based on the position stand papers of both the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). Read here

 

 

 


  • The TheAcademy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), Dietitians of Canada (DC), and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) published a joint position stand paper that recommends that moderate exercise (1 h/day (h/day) recommends 5–7 g per kilogram of body weight per day (g/kg/day) of CHO.
  • Whereas moderate to high-intensity exercise (1–3 h/day) requires 6–10 g/kg/day. 
  • Ultra-endurance athletes with extreme levels of commitment to daily activity (4–5 h of moderate to high-intensity exercise every day) may need up to 8–12 g/kg/day (2). 
  • The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) recommends in order to maximize glycogen stores athletes should consume an 8–12 g/kg/day high CHO diet (1).

 


Over the years I have delivered presentations to high schools, clubs, and collegiate programs on how to properly eat and fuel for endurance and power.

Below is a table outlining the recommendations using common body weight for an athlete that we have received great feedback on Specifically from one of the NWW  partners, DOANE University Track and Field.

Why focus on nutrient quality?

👟Protein for muscle maintenance, growth & repair

👟Hydration and minerals for muscle contraction & cardiac function

👟Carbs + calories for power, speed, strength & endurance


Another common example of a 165 lb.👟 that is best to spread meals and snacks throughout the day but focus on eating within targets listed below:

👉375-525g carbs

👉120-150g protein

👉60-80g fat

Total kcal range: 2,500-3,500 kcal

 

 


Nutrient quality and why it matters

When deciding how to eat and fuel you must focus on nutrient quality. You should strive to balance as many high-quality protein sources as eggs, beef, chicken, fish, Greek yogurt, and beans to ensure you’re getting key nutrients you won’t attain from protein supplements. Many athletes often use protein powders and bars in place of real food and fail to understand that quality is more important than quantity. (click here for snack and meal ideas)

  • For example, Greek yogurt is going to offer you high-quality protein rich in leucine (the number one driver for muscle protein synthesis) along with other key nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and probiotics you won’t get from a protein powder or bar. (food first supplement second should always be your focus. 
  • Supplements are meant to supplement the gaps in our nutrition not replace actual meals. If you expect supplements to be a “meal” you are literally rearranging furniture on a sinking ship. -A quote I enjoy using for many topics like discussing pre-workouts and advocating for quality food choices.

Practical application:

That being said you can take a look at a simple fueling example for XC/TF athletes along with some recommendations on snacks. 

 

In good health, faith, and fitness

-Wendi A. Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN

The Nutrition with Wendi team utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. We partner with parents, athletes, health professionals, and individuals and offer elite nutrition and health guidance for optimal athletic performance, injury, and disease reduction.  We provide virtual services including telehealth but are based in Nashville, TN. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more nutrition information. Services booking here

 

 

 

Resources
1. Thomas D.T., Erdman K.A., Burke L.M. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. J. Acad. Nutr. Diet. 2016;116:501–528. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.12.006.
2 Vitale, K., & Getzin, A. (2019). Nutrition and Supplement Update for the Endurance Athlete: Review and Recommendations. Nutrients, 11(6), 1289. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11061289
3.Kloby Nielsen, L. L., Tandrup Lambert, M. N., & Jeppesen, P. B. (2020). The Effect of Ingesting Carbohydrate and Proteins on Athletic Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients, 12(5), 1483. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12051483

Raw Versus Pasterized Milk

Milk contains essential nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, B-vitamins, Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and phosphorus. Milk is consider one of the most nutritious drinks in the world and is know for reducing risk of osteoporosis. “The majority of cross-sectional and prospective studies indicate a beneficial relationship between the consumption of milk and/or calcium and body weight and body composition in children and adolescents  (Spence, Cifelli, miller, 2011).” Better body composition is ideal for athletes looking to get stronger.

Raw milk from a cow must be pasteurized to be safe. Pasteurization destroys all disease-producing organisms that may be present, making milk safe to drink.” From the USDA Website

Raw 🆚 Pasteurized Milk have No Significant Difference in:
✅Nutrients
✅Minerals
✅Fats
✅Allergens
✅Lactose Intolerance

Raw Milk Does have Increased:
🚫Disease Producing Organisms


Fact and Myth

Myth: Pasteurized milk has less nutrients.

Fact: There are no significant difference in vitamins, carbs, minerals, or fats (Bezie, 2019). “The fat, fat-soluble vitamins, carbohydrates and minerals’ of milk are essentially unaffected by heat treatment” (Bezie, 2019).

 

Myth: Pasteurizing milk reduces fatty acids.

Fact: Multiple studies have show no significant difference in reduced fatty acids (Pestana, et al., 2015), (Tunick & Hekken, 2017). 

 

Myth: Raw milk protects against allergies. 

Fact: A National Library of Medicine study found that the two milks had similar allergic reactions (Host & Samuelsson, 1988). 

 

Myth: Raw milk is better for people with lactose intolerance. 

Fact: Raw and pasteurized milk contain similar amounts of lactose. Raw milk also contains the lactase-producing bacteria Lactobacillus which is destroyed during pasteurization (Quigley, et al., 2013). 


All foods fit but be mindful of your choices! Healthy food = a healthy body! To improve your relationship with food check out the simple tips in our Gentle Nutrition blog!

In good health, faith, and fitness

 

To book a discovery call with an NWW Coach or Dietitian to discuss your goals click the Booking Link Here!

3 Reasons You Crave Sugar and How to Stop

Three reasons why you crave sugar and how to correct it!

  1. You’re starving yourself which includes skipping meals and restricting which = cravings.
  2. Sugar tastes good and so does salt, right? Our brain recognizes the feel-good emotions with sugar and the brain will release serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters make us feel immediately good the second we feel that spike in insulin but then the crash comes after. Then you crave that dopamine response again and again. 
  3. You’re not eating enough critical nutrition which includes a protein that supports satiety and fullness. (Click here to listen to my audio on cravings)

What about hormonal/menstrual cravings? Click here to learn more about how to overcome those and why ladies crave chocolate during their cycle. 1/2 slides shown below.


How to outsmart sweet cravings? Apply these tips immediately!

  • Sleep a minimum of 7 hours nightly! Sleep deprivation = more belly fat? LEARN  MORE
  • Manage stress. You can meditate, belly breathe, take a walk, and call a friend but you need to write down why you are stressed what will help you is not stuffing your face with sugar but doing something constructive like getting to the root cause. 🙂 
  • Do not buy junk you know you struggle to portion and control yourself around. If you buy it you will eat it. No, it’s not for the kids LOL you will eat in. If it is in your cart it will go in your mouth.

 


  • Plan a special treat to share with your family 1x/a week and go out and get it.
    • Like ice cream!  Try my high-protein ice cream! This will also prevent depriving yourself of your favorite sweet treat.
    • Besides, dessert is sometimes food! All foods fit but we have become a society where “treat yourself ” means treats at every meal… #yikes .
    • If folks would eat well 80% of the time and then have the dessert they love 1x/a week or a few times a week via portion control they would actually binge less too! 
      •  Binge eating/then restricting is not healthy and puts you back in a vicious cycle. Give yourself grace but set up your environment for success! Pack the fridge with nutrient-dense foods! Here’s a great list to start.
  • Pack meals + snacks (DO NOT SKIP BREAKFAST)
  • Drink more water. Aim to consume 100 oz daily
  • Eat balanced meals regularly to avoid dips in blood sugar
  • Prioritize protein + produce at meals you will be less prone to eat and crave low-nutrient foods
  • Exercise regularly which includes resistance training and plenty of walking!
  • Have a Greek yogurt + fruit + dark chocolate serving (this will balance blood sugar and offer you some sweetness without the crash because of nutrition!) -see the graphic for illustration on other meals.

All foods fit but be mindful of your choices! Healthy food = a healthy body! For some mindful eating tips check out NWW Coach and Dietitian Sydney’s fantastic blog on Gentle Nutrition!

In good health, faith, and fitness

-Wendi A. Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN

The Nutrition with Wendi team utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. We partner with parents, athletes, health professionals, and individuals and offer elite nutrition and health guidance for optimal athletic performance, injury, and disease reduction.  We provide virtual services including telehealth but are based in Nashville, TN. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more nutrition information. Service