Low energy availability is rife amongst women that kick it hard in the gym but also kick it hard in life.
I’ve no doubt you’ve heard or read this a million times before but here it is for you again, let it stick: STRESS IS STRESS.
Whether that be running in the gym, lifting weights, ALL the things on your to-do list, Herman at work giving you grief for your project idea or feeling gross in your work clothes.
It’s all the same. And when you have a shit load of it and you’re not fueling appropriately, your body’s going to work against you.
We don’t want that.
So, what can you control?
Obligations and responsibilities? A lot of them, no. (Although, boundaries!).
What you can control: your training and your nutrition.
You like to train hard. Sometimes it’s a stress relief for you.
First, unpack this: if you're relying on exercise to relieve stress, what happens when you can’t exercise? Having other forms of stress relief is important.
Secondly, to support your life in and out of the gym: nutrient timing. IT MATTERS. It's not just for athletes.
Women enter the catabolic state much quicker than men, which means our post-workout nutrition window for recovery is much smaller—30-40mins VS 18-21 hours. If we don't refuel in this time we could put ourselves into low energy availability. CUUUEEEEEE fatigue, brain fog, plateau ...
It doesn’t matter what you’re training for, what diet you’re on, if you’re training you obviously want to improve in some aspect—you’re striving for an adaptation. If you’re not fueling, you will not get an adaptation.
The whole point of training is to adapt to whatever metric you’re chasing (performance or aesthetics). This adaptation depends on how quickly you can get out of a catabolic state.
Exercise puts you in a fasted state, by waiting too long to eat afterwards you stay in a catabolic state. This means if you’re training first thing in the morning on an empty tum, your likelihood to stay catabolic is moreso.
Women should be aiming to get nutrition in post-workout (no matter what age, phase, goal you’re in or have) within 30-45 minutes. What you need depends on a few things (like age, where you are in your cycle, your training—it’s dynamic).
But what we do know is in order to recover better for the next day, to train hard again, you need to eat in order to come out of a catabolic state. If you’re going ham in the gym, going straight into ham in life and not fuelling along the way, you’re staying in a sympathetic state.
This doesn’t mean you need to chug down a protein drink as soon as you finish your last squat. Your body does need to be in the right state to receive those nutrients.
Here’s your next steps:
Post workout take 10 big belly breaths to encourage the parasympathetic state. Learn how to do crocodile breathing here.
Sip a protein drink of 20-40g (depending on age) within 30-40 mins post-exercise. You can have half of this before your workout then half afterwards. If you have time to sit down and eat a prepared meal in that window, go for it! But if you're a busy human getting after life, a protein shake is going to serve you well. Find one that has few fillers and has a leucine (the amino acid that triggers muscle protein synthesis and recovery) content of 3-3.5g. Take a look on Labdoor to find a good one!
Have a decent meal of carbs, protein, fats 1-2 hours after
You work hard. You deserve to see and feel that. You also deserve to look after yourself in this way.
To learn about what you are truly capable of, to stop second guessing yourself, feel like an athlete in the gym but participate in life outside of the gym, go here to get on the waitlist for The Bold Collective. You can learn more about it here.