Fueling the Female Athlete

woman athlete

The key to preventing the female athlete triad is to match energy intake with energy expenditure. Active women must choose the right fuel. Carbohydrates, protein, and fat need to be included in an active woman's diet to provide the right fuel. Carbohydrates come from whole grains, cereals, fruits, and vegetables. Milk products, meat, and meat alternatives provide protein while oils and nuts provide fat. The key is to keep healthy foods and snacks at your fingertips. Need some healthy snack ideas? The list below should help meet this goal.

Quick Snack Ideas

  • Whole grain crackers with peanut butter or string cheese
  • Oatmeal topped with fresh strawberries or raisins
  • Whole wheat pita with hummus and fresh vegetables
  • Cottage cheese with fresh peaches and almonds
  • 1/2 turkey and mozzarella cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • Broccoli and baby carrots with lowfat vegetable dip or salad dressing
  • Scrambled eggs with rye toast
  • Fruit salad with fresh melon and berries

Food Group/Sample Choices


Whole grain breads (>3 grams fiber/slice), whole grain cereals (>5 g fiber/serving), oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain pasta, barley, bulgur


Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines; bananas, kiwi, and pineapple; apples, pears, nectarines, peaches; grapes and raisins; melon such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew; 100% fruit juices; plums, prunes, and apricots


Leafy, greens such as broccoli, spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce; deep yellow or orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and winter squash; starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and green peas; cauliflower, peppers, cabbage, and tomatoes

Milk/Dairy Products

Lowfat/nonfat milk or soymilk, lowfat/nonfat cheese, lowfat or nonfat yogurt

Protein Sources

Skinless chicken or turkey breast, pork loin, lean roast beef, eggs, fish, soy-based vegetarian burgers, tofu, nut butters, dried beans, lentils, split peas

Kathy Mellen, MA, RD, LD, Dietitian
Health Iowa/Student Health Service