The state of your hormone health MATTERS as an athlete. If you're wondering why, click here before reading this blog!
You'll quickly learn that everything you do, eat, drink, say, think, and surround yourself around can affect your hormones (which domino affects your performance, on and off the field). If this sounds kinda intimidating to you - DON'T WORRY.
The bottom line (and good news) is that we can do something about it. We can CONTROL what we can CONTROL to help balance our hormones on a daily basis. Here is a list of our favorite natural ways:
#1. Drink water with a pinch of sea salt
- When you sweat, you lose lots of water & it is essential for us to rehydrate for thermoregulation, preventing cramps, heat exhaustion & even heat strokes (especially during those hot summer games.)
- When we add a pinch of sea salt - it helps the body absorb water & help you remain hydrated for a longer period of time!
- Sea salt is also loaded with minerals such as potassium & sodium. Hello electrolytessss!
Side bar: Of course, it's a no brainer that having a consistent fitness & strength training routine does wonders for your hormones when it comes to power, strength & lean muscle mass. This is already assumed that you're doing this with your team!
- However, we want you to think about this, your body is always under a huge amount of strain from your fitness or lifting sessions, practices, extra technical sessions, games, tournaments & more. Although they are forms of GOOD stress, they are also considered CATABOLIC (meaning your body is being broken down.) And it is absolutely essential for you to give your time rest to recover properly...
- We wanted to add walking in here because the ANABOLIC benefits that are often underestimated! We need this low-impact form of movement to help build our bodies back up after the wear & tear that happens on a daily basis from soccer. Walking aids in recovery between sessions & should truly be utilized all of the time, especially on off days. Walking is also incredibly good for your mood & helps you relieve stress all thanks to a boost in your endorphins. More hormone benefits, YES PLEASE!
#3. Anti-inflammatory diet of nutrient-dense whole foods
- What you choose to eat & how you build your plate every single day impacts your hormone health. If you're finding that your blood sugar is all over the place with symptoms like fatigue, hangri-ness, brain fog, indigestion, sleep issues, & cravings - It might be time for you to clean up your diet.
- We want you to start adding in whole foods that are nutrient-dense & inflammatory. Why?
- As high level athletes, we NEED the nutrients, antioxidants & minerals for our bodies to function at the highest potential. We need those things for energy, stamina, strength, endurance, motivation, clear thinking, and more. Specifically, we need those anti-inflammatory proprerties to help us lower the inflammation happening in our body from the pracitces/games/lifting sessions & more (remember that it's catabolic, breaking you down!) By adding in anti-inflammatory foods, you help lessen that inflammation response & shorten your recovery / DOMs. YES - That means less soreness & pain, and more time kicking butt!
- What are our favorite anti-inflammatory foods? RULE OF THUMB any whole foods from mother nature or foods that do not have barcode on it :) However, here is our specifics:
- PROTEIN - salmon/cod/tuna, beef/chicken/pork *choose organic or wild-caught when possible
- FAT- eggs, extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, flax meal, chia seeds
- CARBS- all greens (spinach, kale, arugula, mustard greens, mixed mesclun greens) & colorful veggies/fruit like tricolored peppers, blueberries, strawberries, squash, sweet potato, potato, brown rice pasta, sprouted quinoa
#4. Water down sugary sports drinks
- The hard truth is that most sports drinks are jam-packed with artificial sugars, coloring & additives (with a side of electrolytes.) This can often cause a big blood sugar crash or even cause an upset stomach in some players!
- Our best advice is to water down your sports drinks with 1/2 water OR try out natural alternatives that contain natural sugars & electrolytes like coconut water & watermelon water! We love that they are just 1 INGREDIENT...coconut water or a watermelon!
#5. Do not cut any food groups
- For example, don't even THINK about cutting carbs out just because you heard that "it can help you lose weight" on the internet. Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient found in many foods and they come in a variety of forms, mostly sugars, fibers, and starches. Carbs are our body’s fuel. Our brain only functions on glucose, and carbs break down into glucose...so girllllllll we need it to function properly!
- ALSO, don't even think about cutting out healthy fats, either. Fat is a major source of energy & helps you absorb certain vitamins and minerals. We need fat to build cell membranes and protective myelin sheaths.
- BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE - Fat is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement (helloooooo athletic bod) & immune processes. Lastly, healthy fats help you feel fuller longer, balance blood sugar, and help to regulate hormones. We need to avoid being EXTREME and approach food with a balanced mindset.
#6. Eat protein at every meal
- This is one of the easiest tips you can takeaway from this blog! Focus on making sure that each meal contains PROTEIN! Experts say that consuming a min. of 20-30 grams of protein at each meal triggers the production of hormones that help keep you full/suppress your appetite (which is amazing for keeping your cravings at bay or for helping you avoid being "hangry")
- Let's allllllll agree that soccer girls always feel so hungry! Perhaps we all need to add more protein in our diets!
#7. Don't sleep on sleep.
- It's safe to say that this tip is something you already know. However, we are here to remind you that SLEEP is extremely important for your level of play, performance, recovery, learning, development, and overall physical and mental health.
- When we get a poor night of sleep, we usually don't feel like ourselves. Our behavior changes, we feel moody, exhausted, weak, experience brain fog, and not to mention our appetite for sweets & carbs increases!
- This is all because a poor night of sleep can greatly impact our hormones. The best tip is to try & go to bed at the same time every night and aim for 8 hours of sleep.
#8. Take your OFF days!!!!!
- As athletes with the go-go-go mentality, we all need to learn how to slow down & take our off days! Please remember that when you exercise, play, run, jump, etc, this is catabolic (meaning, your body is breaking down.) We NEED to take at least a day off for the anabolic benefits (meaning it's helping your body build back up stronger.)
- Alllllll of that hard work that you're doing on the field or in the gym won't show unless you let your body recover. When you have an OFF day, you better not be going for a run. Go for a light walk & relax so that you can crush your Monday practice with even more strength.
Anddddd there you have it! Our favorite way to balance hormones that are in our control! Please share this will a teammate who needs to hear this advice!