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Nutritional aspects of women strength athletes
  1. J S Volek,
  2. C E Forsythe,
  3. W J Kraemer
  1. Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, 2095 Hillside Road, U-1110, Storrs, CT 06269-1110, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Jeff S Volek
 Department of Kinesiology, 2095 Hillside Road, Unit 1110, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-1110, USA;jeff.volek{at}


Strength training elicits sports related and health benefits for both men and women. Although sexual dimorphism is observed in exercise metabolism, there is little information outlining the specific nutritional needs of women strength athletes. Many women athletes restrict energy intake, specifically fat consumption, in order to modify body composition, but this nutritional practice is often counter-productive. Compared to men, women appear to be less reliant on glycogen during exercise and less responsive to carbohydrate mediated glycogen synthesis during recovery. Female strength athletes may require more protein than their sedentary and endurance training counterparts to attain positive nitrogen balance and promote protein synthesis. Therefore, women strength athletes should put less emphasis on a very high carbohydrate intake and more emphasis on quality protein and fat consumption in the context of energy balance to enhance adaptations to training and improve general health. Attention to timing of nutrient ingestion, macronutrient quality, and dietary supplementation (for example, creatine) are briefly discussed as important components of a nutritionally adequate and effective strength training diet for women.

  • DRI, dietary reference intakes
  • EPOC, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption
  • IMTG, intramuscular muscle triglycerides
  • MET, metabolic equivalent of task
  • PAL, physical activity level
  • PCr, phosphocreatine
  • REE, resting energy expenditure
  • RER, respiratory exchange ratio
  • TEA, thermic effect of activity
  • TEE, total daily energy expenditure
  • carbohydrate
  • diet
  • fat
  • females
  • protein
  • weight training

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  • Published Online First 19 July 2006

  • Competing interests: none declared