There is little information on the nutritional habits of female football players at any level of the game. There is also a shortage of information on the nutrition and hydration strategies that players should adopt. In general, differences in nutritional needs between males and females are smaller than differences between individuals, so that principles developed for male players also apply to women. There is a need to address energy balance and body composition: prolonged energy deficits cannot be sustained without harm to health and performance. Published reports show mean carbohydrate intakes for female players of about 5 g/kg/day, and this seems to be too low to sustain consistent intensive training. The timing of protein intake may be as important as the amounts consumed, provided that the total intake is adequate. Dehydration adversely affects skill and stamina in women as it does in men, so an individualised hydration strategy should be developed. The prevalence of iron deficiency in women generally is high, but it seems to be alarmingly high in female players. All players should adopt dietary habits that ensure adequate iron intake. Football training seems to increase bone mass in the weight-bearing limbs, with positive implications for bone health in later life, but some players may be at risk from inadequate calcium dietary intake.
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Competing interests: None declared.
Guest editors: Jiri Dvorak, Astrid Junge, Collin Fuller and Paul McCrory