Women Athletes: Nutrition, Supplementation, and Hormones

Jan. 8, 2021

Mikki Williden, PhD is a Registered Nutritionist and a Senior Lecturer at Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand. She runs an online nutrition coaching programme and has privately consulted with clients since 2006. Mikki co-hosts the Fitter Radio weekly endurance sports podcast and recently launched her own podcast, Mikkipedia, where she has conversations with experts in health and nutrition. She is also a runner and is passionate about health, longevity, nutrition, and activity. 

On the podcast today, Mikki talks with Megan Hall about nutritional and training considerations for women athletes. They discuss the timing of meals and supplements around training and preparing for race nutrition, with consideration given to cyclical hormonal fluctuations. Mikki discusses current research on fueling before exercise, and the importance of adequate protein (and what that actually means!). They also discuss the common problem of under-eating and chronic low energy availability.

Here’s the outline of this podcast with Mikki Williden:

[00:00:21] Ancestral Health Symposium.

[00:00:57] Mikki's background.

[00:02:26] Menstrual cycle, athletic performance, and nutrition.

[00:08:26] Meta analysis: McNulty, Kelly Lee, et al. "The effects of menstrual cycle phase on exercise performance in eumenorrheic women: a systematic review and meta-analysis." Sports medicine (2020): 1-15.

[00:14:04] Nutritional factors impacting bloating, cramping and cyclical inflammation.

[00:17:13] Protein as a focus for female athletes.

[00:20:28] Stuart Phillips, Luc Van Loon.

[00:22:33] Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S); Podcast: How to Identify and Treat Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S), with Nicky Keay.

[00:23:21] The importance of biomedical testing.

[00:26:03] Underfueling early in the day.

[00:27:36] Meal timing and hormones; Studies: 1. Fahrenholtz, Ida Lysdahl, et al. "Within‚Äźday energy deficiency and reproductive function in female endurance athletes." Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports 28.3 (2018): 1139-1146; 2. Torstveit, Monica Klungland, et al. "Within-day energy deficiency and metabolic perturbation in male endurance athletes." International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism 28.4 (2018): 419-427.

[00:28:36] Low carb/ketogenic diets and fasting.

[00:35:03] Sleep low, train low.

[00:35:53] Study: Impey, Samuel G., et al. "Fuel for the work required: a theoretical framework for carbohydrate periodization and the glycogen threshold hypothesis." Sports Medicine 48.5 (2018): 1031-1048.

[00:37:01] Study: Rothschild, Jeffrey A., Andrew E. Kilding, and Daniel J. Plews. "What Should I Eat before Exercise? Pre-Exercise Nutrition and the Response to Endurance Exercise: Current Prospective and Future Directions." Nutrients 12.11 (2020): 3473.

[00:38:16] Blog post: What to eat before training: a research update, by Mikki Williden, PhD.

[00:38:53] Fueling for training.

[00:41:08] Practicing for race nutrition.

[00:43:23] Timing of carbohydrate intake.

[00:47:19] Chronic/acute low energy availability.

[00:48:33] Eric Helms.

[00:54:21] Meeting an athlete’s nutritional needs.

[01:01:48] Peri- and post-menopausal training and nutritional considerations.

[01:04:40] Protein needs in isolation vs mixed meal; Study: Kim, Il-Young, et al. "The anabolic response to a meal containing different amounts of protein is not limited by the maximal stimulation of protein synthesis in healthy young adults." American journal of physiology-endocrinology and metabolism 310.1 (2016): E73-E80.

[01:06:10] Hormonal fluctuations and gut health.

[01:07:07] Digestive enzymes.

[01:08:18] Branched-chain amino acids; Dr. Gabrielle Lyon.

[01:09:41] Where to find Mikki: mikkiwilliden.com; FITTER Radio Podcast; Consult with Mikki, meal plans; Facebook; Mikkipedia Podcast.

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