By definition a female athlete should have a healthy body if they are following proper athletic eating, supplementing and training plans. Therefore creating daily meal plans including ideal calorie balance matched to your competitive but healthy goal weight/body composition and proper (not overtraining) training protocol will all but guarantee a healthy body. To help you in designing healthy menus, use the dotFIT program. You can set your goals and create the ideal program including individualized menus, athletic supplement recommendations, proper calories, protein requirements, and more.

That said, some female athletes, due to stress or low body fat, may experience exercise-induced or athletic menstrual dysfunction that can significantly affect health and sport performance. Although athletic amenorrhoea represents the most extreme form of menstrual dysfunction, other forms can also result in suppressed estrogen levels and affect bone health and fertility. Factors, such as energy balance, exercise intensity and training practices, bodyweight/composition, disordered eating behaviors, and both physical and emotional stress, may contribute to athletic menstrual dysfunction. The most common dietary issues of the female athlete with athletic menstrual dysfunction are poor energy intake and/or poor food selection, which leads to inadequate protein, carbohydrate and essential fat intakes. Common micronutrients to be insufficient are many bone-building nutrients, mainly calcium, the B vitamins, iron and zinc.

If you feel you are experiencing athletic menstrual dysfunction, consult your doctor to eliminate any more serious causes than listed above and then consult with a qualified dietitian who can help get your eating  plans matched to your training. Kat Barefield, MS RD is a Sharecare expert and a dotFIT lead dietitian. She also was a competitive athlete and works with many others on nutrition for performance.

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