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Beat Fatigue

Fatigue can seriously undermine an athlete's performance and can be caused by anything from diet to sleeping patterns.

Published October 17, 2012 10:50

Beat Fatigue
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Fatigue is the feeling of tiredness or lack of energy. Fatigue can be normal and an important response to physical exercise. Fatigue can also be abnormal and related to poor eating habits, emotional stress, lack of sleep or an underlying medical condition.

The most common causes of fatigue in female athletes are:

• Carbohydrates - Very low carbohydrate diets can lead to chronic tiredness, and low muscle glycogen. Low carbohydrate intake can also result in poor concentration and mood swings. If the timing of carbohydrate intake is not suitable then recovery is compromised.
• Low energy consumption - If athletes do not meet the energy needs of training and growth then this leads to fatigue.
• Dehydration - Many athletes do not drink enough fluid to replace their sweat loss, which results in chronic dehydration. Dehydration impacts performance including decision making and skill level. A 1% level of dehydration can decrease athletic performance and 3% could put an athlete in the high risk health zone. Signs of chronic dehydration are general lethargy, headaches and dry skin.
• Iron deficiency - Female athletes are prone to iron deficiency due to blood loss in menstruation and exercise. Low iron status results in extreme fatigue, poor immunity and shortness of breath.
• Travel - Frequent changes in time zones, climates and food can lead to exhaustion, decreased immunity and mood changes.

Dietary suggestions for helping eliminate fatigue include:

• Eat like an athlete
• Ensure you are hydrated
• Limit caffeine intake
• Don't skip meals
• Eat iron rich foods
• Don't skip recovery foods
• Avoid fad diets
• Be prepared for international travel
• If psychological factors are influencing your food intake then seek guidance

Thanks to Susie Parker Simmons, MS, RD, MED
Sports Dietician and Physiologist
WTA Sports Nutrition Advisor

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The contents of the Health site are for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological, health care or health management advice. The materials herein are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.

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