Amenorrhea: Female Athletes Nutrition Tips
Content by: Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD
Amenorrhea is a way the female body conserves energy when it is under-fueled. It is linked with medical concerns including stress fractures. Learn more...
Amenorrhea is the loss of regular menstrual periods. It is a health problem among many active women athletes, who under-eat (either by choice or unknowingly) and have too little energy to support normal bodily functions like menstruation.
HOW TO RESOLVE AMENORRHEA
• Throw the scale away!
Don’t force your body to a weight that is too thin for your genetics.
• Stop eating when you are content.
Don’t stop eating just because you “think you should.” Eat at least every four hours, so you are well-fueled during the active part of your day.
• Eat adequate protein and calcium.
Include protein-rich and calcium-foods at each meal and snack. Dairy (or soy) milk and yogurt are excellent sources of both.
• Include fat in every sports meal.
Your body requires fat, as part of a balanced diet. “Good fats” include peanut butter, nuts, salmon, cheese and olive oil. They help absorb certain vitamins, reduce inflammation and provide fuel for endurance exercise.
DOES AMENORRHEA CAUSE LONG TERM BONE DAMAGE?
Yes! Amenorrhea will result in bone loss. Teens who resume menses can restore some, if not most, of the bone density lost during their months of amenorrhea.
If you struggle with making the nutrition and exercise changes that would enhance resumption of menses, it’s important to seek assistance. Although you may think you are a healthy athlete, amenorrhea suggests further evaluation is necessary.
Seek the assistance of a medical professional to restore normal function, and ask a dietitian to help you develop a nutrition plan.