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Sports Nutrition for Women E-Course

Why we do what we do, and why we think it’s important.

Our Approach

We aim to change the narrative from aesthetic to athletic. We show women and girls that through optimal nutrition and sport we can feel stronger, healthier, happier, and more fulfilled.

We believe ALL bodies are capable. Fortunately, the general sports community is moving beyond the outdated assumption that smaller, skinnier, leaner is faster. Overwhelming research highlights the harms of underfueling and overtraining for overall health, injury risk, and athletic performance (German Journal of Sports Medicine 2022) Bone injuries, lack of energy, menstrual dysfunction, weakened immune system, and underperforming are example outcomes of prescribing to this ideal that “smaller is faster”. And importantly, sustained increase in performance or improved self-worth are NOT outcomes. Young athletes are particularly susceptible to outdated ideals about fueling, as their bodies require the energy not only to fuel for exercise but also for natural growth for this life stage. Bone health and other long term complications result from improper energy balance, unhealthy eating patterns, eating disorders, macro/micro nutrient deficiencies, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, and changes in body composition (Children 2021). We are beginning to live in a world which embraces fueled is strong, strong is healthy, and healthy is fast. Let’s live in a world that embraces women’s bodies for what they can do, not what they look like.

Research shows that engaging in sport improves risk factors for diseases, improves overall quality of life, and creates a healthy community where relationships are built, to name a few. (1)

Far too often, body dissatisfaction pushes young girls out of sports. Researchers from the Rally Report surveying 4,500 Canadian girls and women, and over 350 women sport leaders report “Among girls who have participated in sport, there is a dramatic dropout rate observed with 1 in 3 girls leaving sport by late adolescence. By comparison, the dropout rate for teenage boys (aged 16-18) is only 1 in 10” (The Rally Report 2022). We know the overwhelming psychological, physical, and social benefits from participating in sport from a young age, and this is lost on young girls when they quit sport due to a lack of comfortability and satisfaction with their changing bodies. A key to changing the narrative in female youth sports is educating about healthy eating habits, proper fueling for exercise, and cultivating a healthy body image. Unfortunately, many women in sport have not received this education growing up, so it is time to embrace this learning in adulthood and stop the cycle. While both male and female athletes are at risk for eating disorders and body dissatisfaction, female athletes are more likely to be at risk for eating disorders and body dissatisfaction compared to their male counterparts (Scientific Reports 2022). It is never too early or too late to work on your relationship with food, fueling, and your body. Through methods like nutrition counseling and intuitive eating, healthier habits can be navigated and formed to get the most out of yourself and your training.

Women have a unique opportunity to leverage their hormonal landscape to get the best out of themselves.

The fluctuations in various female hormones throughout the menstrual cycle influence training adaptations and nutritional needs, stretching way further than just the 4-6 days of menstruation (Sports Medicine 2022). The other 21-35 days of the cycle are just as important, but the symptoms and metabolic changes are not as commonly talked about or focused on. Nutrition-oriented strategies such as timing of carbohydrates, fluid, and electrolytes around the menstrual cycle have shown to improve and influence performance in a positive way (Sports Medicine 2022). By learning how to be in tune with the menstrual cycle and specific nutrition-based strategies to meet the needs of each phase, performance and perceived exertion can be optimized. The female life cycle through menarche (a girl’s first period), pregnancy, perimenopause (the beginning of the shift from menstruation to menopause), and postmenopause (cessation of a period) provide additional unique opportunities for consideration. In a world where we do so much to try to get the 1% performance increases, cultivating specific female physiology to train, eat, feel, live, and perform at our best is a gold mine just waiting to be utilized.

We strongly believe that anyone who identifies as a woman or girl is a woman or girl. This includes transwomen.

Not all women have reproductive organs nor associated physiological experiences (menstruation, female sex chromosome genes, and female sex hormone fluctuations which influence physiology and nutritional needs). An athlete does not have to identify as a woman to have female sex chromosomes or female reproductive organs and hormonal fluctuations. That being said, we acknowledge that there is a large gap in sports nutrition research conducted on athletes with female reproductive organs and that these organs influence nutrient needs when it comes to performance. Transwomen have their own specific nutritional needs and relationships with food as it relates to their individual physiology and journey, whether they are engaging in hormone therapy or not. We celebrate working with athletes of all gender identities and believe everyone should have the same opportunities for quality healthcare and in sport.

Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports
Adapted from: Margo Mountjoy et al. Br J Sports Med 2023;57:1073-1097
Sundgot-Borgen, Torstveit J Sports Med 2004 14(1):p 25-32
Fuel Potential.
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