Making sports nutrition more inclusive
Dr Lauren Duckworth’s research into the dietary and nutritional needs of women is helping to shape the future of the fitness industry. In a guest blog below, she outlines her work and how sports nutrition is becoming more inclusive.
My name is Dr Lauren Duckworth and I am a Course Director within the Carnegie School of Sport. I am passionate about women’s sport and ensuring that we work with as many women as possible within our research studies to help inform recommendations.
My main area of academia/research is in Sport and Exercise Nutrition, where many of the recommendations we use for recreational and elite athletes are based on the findings of research performed on men. This is usually for good reason; it can take a lot longer to carry out studies on women given the need to standardise variations in hormones, and funding and time being two particular constraints within the research that we do. However, we must remember that women are not just male athletes adjusted for weight - women have specific nutritional needs. Carrying out research on women can develop our understanding of these needs and enable us to tailor recommendations for peak health and performance.
I have been involved in research on women throughout my own MSc studies (glycaemic index responses), PhD study (protein and appetite) and working with colleagues within the School more recently assessing fuel use at altitude in British military women, whereby responses were markedly different to those of males.
This can be important to those travelling to altitude as the correct nutrition can not only impact performance, but also critical decision making. In addition, I was part of a team of experts that delivered a session at the Food Matters Live expo in London, titled ‘What Women Want: Nutrition for the Active Female’. The seminar provided an overview of how manufacturers can make nutrition and health claims work in the sports nutrition industry as well as exploring where the growth is. This is ever present through the development of stand-alone women’s fitness media publications and sports nutrition products. Firstly though, we need to find out more about these responses before we know how to tailor such information, something that we hope to contribute to within the Carnegie School of Sport.