As an active woman with very active daughters and female clients, I have always been keenly aware of the nutritional tug of war between supporting peak physical performance and our desire to achieve the physique promoted by society and the media. Unless you surround yourself exclusively with images of other very physically active people, a girl with powerful thighs feels great about her strength but less enthusiastic about her physical shape. As a sports nutritionist I coach women and girls to love their high performance bodies in all their shapes and sizes. Even so, we can keep bodies lean without compromising performance by adhering to the food paradigm of the sports world, and leaving the diet world behind.
My Power Eating® paradigm is based on building your body up for peak mental and physical performance, to support your mood and mental energy, and just keep you feeling energized all day long. It prepares your body to train hard and recover quickly so you can get on with your day and then train hard again tomorrow. In young athletes this is especially important because you are still growing. Without an anabolic, tissue building nutritional strategy, you will never optimize your body or your training, and you will most likely burn out somewhere along your journey.
The Power Eating® Paradigm:
In that order...and then you're done! Once you've built the muscle that drives fat burning and intense exercise, you just need to keep doing what you're doing and your body will reshape itself and perform at it's best. Your muscles are beautiful and your body is built for optimal performance in your sport. That gets you to goal!
As an athlete you cannot listen to the advise and fads that come out of the diet world. The diet world is all about tearing your body down. They say to eat less to lose weight. But you lose too much muscle, and then your energy drops and your metabolism slows down. You can't train as hard or as long, and your performance withers. And if after all that weight loss you begin to eat more, you gain fat, not strength, speed and energy. Youth athletes risk illness, injury, over-training, and possibly inhibiting growth. Once you step on this downward spiral it is very hard to get off. It can even end your career.
So whether you do field sports, play tennis, run cross country, row, swim, dive, do gymnastics, play soccer, softball or any other sport, focus on how to feed your body to build it up. No fasting, skimping on meals, or cutting out food groups to try and lose weight and tear your body down. You are an athlete! Your goal is to achieve peak performance.
Weight loss is not a goal. Weight loss is an outcome of following the Power Eating® Paradigm and training your body. If you need to lose weight, you will. It is the natural and successful path to finding your weight in the world.
Stay health and strong!
Dr. Susan M. Kleiner