Too much exercise and not enough calories can lead to Female Athlete Triad

by Dr. Maurice Leibman on February 7, 2013

You always hear you need to work out more and eat less, but did you know too much of a good thing can be bad? It’s true.

If you’ve been dieting and working out, but feeling tired all the time and have no energy, you may have Female Athlete Triad.

Female Athlete Triad syndrome was first discovered in 1992 and was defined as disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis, but over the last several years it has evolved to more broadly defined low energy, excessive exercise, menstrual abnormalities, and low bone mass.

This is not an exact syndrome and what we are seeing now are young women athletes and busy professionals who exercise seven days a week, and are also very stressed either from competition, work – or just social pressure – to be thin and look good – and they cannot understand why they are tired all the time, drowsy, & just have “low energy.”

Once the medical exam has been done and the lab tests show no abnormalities – we must turn to the calorie needs of such a person. There is such a thing as too much exercise especially when the caloric intake is not sufficient to meet the energy output (don’t forget about the energy needed at work or to take care of the family!)

The macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, protein) and the micronutrients (iron, calcium, vitamins D, zinc) and fluids are critically important to feel good and get through the day easily. A registered dietician may be necessary to put a comprehensive plan together, and if there are difficulties implementing the dietary recommendation – this may warrant evaluation and treatment by a mental health provider with expertise in eating disorders. Also, hormone testing may be necessary to look at serum levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and estradiol.

And here is the most, important sentence of this note:
If there is poor progress in returning to normal energy levels and inability in stabilizing weight – the intense exercise program must be changed to normalize calorie input and output.

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