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SF 0004: The Female Athletic Triad

The Female Athletic Triad

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The Question:

My Daughter has had all 3 signs of the female athletic triad and I need help!?!

The Answer:

Hello again and welcome back to the Stay Fueled Podcast! My name is Dr. Joshua Eldridge. Today, we have a very serious topic that we’re covering and this one comes from Marcy. And I actually changed her name because this is such a sensitive topic. But here’s the question, “My daughter has had all three signs of the Female Athletic Triad and I need help.”

Marcy, what a great question. First of all, if you don’t know what the Female Athletic Triad is, it consists of three things.

That’s where the “triad” comes from. The Female Athletic Triad consists of disordered eating, amenorrhea. So periods that are not occurring. And then, the third is bone loss. And what they say can happen is that these athletes that are suffering from the Female Athletic Triad can lose up to 6% bone mass per year during this issue. And so, if they’re suffering from the Female Athletic Triad between the ages of 16 and 20, let’s say, they can lose up to 25% of their bone mass. And this can be devastating for a young female because females are more prone to osteoporosis later in life. And now, we’ve just started decreasing their bone mass during their youth when they should be building it up as much as possible.

So yeah, there’s a few things that we have to look at with this. The first thing is we have to encourage them to eat properly; get the calories that they need to support their training, making sure that our athletes need to know that we use nutrition as a tool to make us perform better. And you know what? As a parent, this may not be something that you want to take on yourself, and that’s completely understandable. There are some great psychologists out there, and sports psychologists even, that can get in there and help you help them deal with some of these issues that they’re dealing with.

Now some of these athletes, they don’t even know that they’re getting into a disordered eating. So it’s not necessarily a psychological thing. Some of them, it is. Some of it is that they feel like they have to lose weight in order to be better performers. And so, that’s definitely a time that we want to get the psychologist involved or those counselors that deal with this specifically.

But then you have those athletes, they don’t even know that they’re having troubles with disordered eating, and they can even get what’s called “exercise-induced anorexia.” And so, what’s happening during this is they’re working out so hard that they’re experiencing this exercise-induced anorexia or what they’ll do is they’ll go to practice and they’ll do their practice – let’s say a track workout – and then they come home and they feel like to be better track athletes, they need to go for another run once they get home.

Some of the things that you’re going to see with this for your athletes are they’re not going to stay under proper growth patterns necessarily for females. And then, they can even start to experience some of those overuse bone injuries like shin splints or other overuse fractures throughout their body, especially weight-bearing joints.

So we need to make sure that we address this right away and we start encouraging proper eating. And we just need to make them see that we use nutrition as a tool. But get that professional help. That’s the best way to go about this, is bring in a professional. Let them talk with your young athlete so that we can prevent any serious injuries from occurring down the road. So that is Female Athletic Triad. That’s what we want to do. Get help right away.

Now, let’s say they don’t even know they’re not getting enough calories. That’s where Stay Fueled can come in and help you out as a parent. We’ve already developed this whole menu and recipes for you that are delicious. And the other thing is that some athletes don’t know that they need to be snacking throughout the day. So they can go breakfast, lunch and dinner and think they’re getting everything they need, but they’re missing out on those opportunities where they can add 300, 400, 500 calorie meals in between the other meals. And that’s a great time to increase that caloric intake with great nutritious, packed full with protein, carbs and fats-dense food that can help them become champions.

So that’s where Stay Fueled, we put all those things together. We get the big meals taken care of, but then we also take care of the snacking throughout the day. And Stay Fueled is there as a resource for you as a parent.

So, thank you so much for joining us with the Stay Fueled Podcast. If you haven’t gone over to stayfueled.com and got our three-part series on recovery for your athlete, make sure you head over there today, sign up for our email newsletter, and that’ll be sent to you directly so that you can get involved in that and get that information on recovery. It’s so important and that’s going to deal with some of those things that can sneak up with that Female Athletic Triad and overtraining syndrome.

My name is Dr. Joshua Eldridge, founder of Stay Fueled, and I am so glad that you joined us today for another episode of the Stay Fueled Podcast. We’ll see you next time. Have an awesome day!.