Meet Laura Kealy …
Laura is a health and performance nutritionist working with female team sport athletes.
She is registered with the Association of Nutrition (ANutr) and the Sports and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr).
Since founding her company Bridge Nutrition in 2018, Laura has supported hundreds of female athletes, both amateur and elite, across a range of sports. Laura lives in Dublin, Ireland.
Q How does it feel to be celebrating the release of your first book?
It feels great! I’m incredibly excited to get to this point of the journey – and to see it on book shelves!
Q You are soooo busy aren’t you? What current projects are you working on?
2023 has been the busiest year ever for Bridge Nutrition. We’re currently working with 10 elite female teams across a range of sports, so it’s been a hectic few months!
Q Do you think there are more girls moving into female team sport now, perhaps in light of the higher profile female team sports is now – at long last – achieving?
Absolutely, there are also more girls staying in teams throughout, and after, their teen years. There has always been a huge drop off as girls tend to stop playing once they hit their mid to late teens, it’s great to see this reducing.
Q What made you choose sports nutrition as a career – and particularly focusing on female team sports?
When I completed my Bachelors degree in Applied Biology and Biopharmaceuticals I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, around the same time I ruptured my ACL playing a Gaelic football game. It was when I was on the road to recovery that my interest sparked in nutrition as I was trying to support myself in whatever way I can and discovered that my nutrition and lifestyle had a huge part to play in that. I completed my Masters in Nutrition the year after, and the rest is history! Female team sports are progressing massively in skill and numbers as they are finally getting support across areas such as strength and conditioning (S&C), sports psychology, and of course, nutrition. I see huge gains with these players as they tend to have had no previous nutrition support.
Q Do you have to be a member of a female sports team to benefit from the advice you give in the book – or can it apply to other sporting activities, such as running or a workout in the gym?
Absolutely not! The recipes are designed for training and recovery (rest or strength-based gym) days so if you’re a runner, cross-fitter, swimmer etc they would also work for you! The book also covers Nutrition 101 and other topics including nutrition for injury, sleep, the menstrual cycle, RED-S, and nutrition for fueling and recovery – so lots to learn! The book would also benefit anyone working with female teams/athletes (managers, coaches, physios, S&C’s, sports psychologists, mentors etc.). Of course, if you have a daughter playing this is a must read for you!
Q Why do you feel it’s taken so long for the specific nutritional needs of female athletes to be addressed?
There are a few issues at play here. Lack of marketing, support, and funding means that female sports tend to be less popular with the public, this in turn mean than less research is carried out with female athletes. Thankfully this is quickly changing!
Q We hear that you actually walk the walk – in that you actively take part in team sports too – what do you play/who do you play for?
Ha yes, I am still playing Gaelic Football with my local team St Pats in Donabate, Co. Dublin, where I live. I’ve played Gaelic since I was 7, so that’s 28 years now! I have also played soccer, rugby, and basketball over the years!
Q Are we right in saying that there are some team sports in Ireland (you are Dublin based) that might be new to some of us?
Yes as I mentioned above I play Gaelic Football, which is one of our national sports here in Ireland. It’s a mix between soccer, rugby, and basketball. Our other national sport is Hurling, which is a bit like a mix of hockey and lacrosse, it’s actually the fastest field sport in the world – if you have never seen it played, I recommend looking up some videos on YouTube! Although they are both classed as amateur sports (meaning the players don’t get paid), the biggest matches throughout the year will have crowds of between 60,000 and 80,000 people attending. The Women’s Gaelic Football final in 2019 had an attendance of 56,000 people!
Q You’ve been interviewed recently by the media about the book – how did that feel?
That was a bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment. This book has been a tremendous amount of work for me (as well as a lifetime dream) so to sit down with media and talk about it was fantastic!
Q What’s the plan for 2023 and beyond?
As I mentioned, this year has seen Bridge Nutrition grow more than ever so my focus now is on my teams and their success for the rest of the season. Next year I will look to branch out online with athletes and teams in the UK and Australia.
Q And who do you think will win this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup?
Ireland has qualified for the first time ever so I’m backing the girls all the way!!
‘Eat to Win: Nutrition for Peak Performance in Female Team Sport Athletes’ is out now and available through all good book stores and online retailers.