The Female Athlete Triad

The Female Athlete Triad 🔺refers to the linked relationships between:

  1. Energy Availability

  2. Menstrual Function 

  3. Bone Mineral Density (BMD) 

These 3 components when coupled with poor nutrition can contribute to the development of eating disorders, amenorrhea, & osteoporosis.


1️⃣Are you eating enough? 

Energy Availability is the amount of energy remaining for other body functions post exercise. Prolonged under eating can impair reproductive & skeletal health. 

📌Dietary Energy Intake - Exercise Energy Expenditure = Energy Availability 

📌Take away: We must be eating enough food to support our workouts as well as day-to-day bodily functions. 

2️⃣Are you having your period regularly? 

Amenorrhea is defined as the absence of menstrual cycles lasting more than 3 months. Lack of proper carbohydrates, protein, & fat within a diet can lead to amenorrhea. 

You may be thinking “I would love to not have my period!” STOP 🛑lack of menstruation is connected to a whole other set of issues such as infertility, weight gain, sex hormone imbalances. 

3️⃣Are your bones dense? 

Osteoporosis is “a skeletal disorder characterized by compromised bone strength predisposing a person to an increased risk of fracture’’. Women are especially susceptible to developing osteoporosis. Menstrual irregularities and low BMD increase stress fracture risk. 

Adding in regular strength & resistance training with a well balanced diet increase bone density. Restrictive eating habits among female athletes are highly at risk to experience triad symptoms.

📌”Prevention, recognition, and treatment of these clinical conditions should be a priority of those who work with female athletes to ensure that they maximize the benefits of regular exercise.”

Reference: “The Female Athlete Triad” (2007) MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS & EXERCISE Copyright by the American College of Sports Medicine. DOI: 10.1249/mss.0b013e318149f111

Blog written by: Alexis Manning, MA. Holistic Sports Nutritionist

Dominique Manning