Female Athlete Triad

The Female Athlete Triad is found among female athletes trying to balance the pressures of body image and physical performance. The triad (Figure 15-1), marked by inadequate food intake, menstrual abnormalities, and bone loss, can be fatal if left untreated. Therefore, a healthy relationship between food, body image, and performance must be established.

Figure 15-1. The Female Athlete Triad

Eating Disorders

Dieting excessively to lose weight. Compulsively overexercising. Self-esteem governed by body weight.

Female Athlete Triad Kids Health

Eating Disorders

An eating disorder results in inadequate intakes of kcals and nutrients to replenish the energy used during daily activities. Two common types of eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. Some behaviors people with eating disorders engage in are starvation, self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, and the misuse of laxatives or diuretics. Both disorders are extremely damaging to the mind and body, and, if untreated, can lead to death. These disorders can have long-term health consequences by affecting the heart, liver, kidneys, and bone. In addition, these behaviors severely limit physical and mental performance.


A woman is considered amenorrheic when she misses three or more consecutive menstrual cycles. In well-nourished women, heavy physical training should not result in amenorrhea. When non-pregnant, premenopausal women become amenorrheic it may reflect malnutrition.


The decreased levels of female hormones during amenorrhea can lead to calcium loss from the bones and increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis later in life. Osteoporosis is a major cause of bone fractures in the elderly. Bone density throughout the adult lifespan is greatly impacted by the amount of bone formed prior to the early thirties. Therefore, amenorrhea and eating disorders in young adults can negatively affect bone health for life. Prior to menopause, a healthy diet (including adequate calcium intakes) and the performance of weight bearing activities are the two factors that have the greatest positive influence on bone health (see Chapters 3, 4, 5, and 7).

In this chapter you will learn about:

♦ Age-associated changes in metabolism and body composition.

♦ Countering age-associated changes in physical performance.

Aging is a natural process that most, if not all, people would like to avoid. Most people associate aging with gaining weight, getting weaker, and not being able to perform many of the activities they did in their youth. Many of these conditions are actually the result of inactivity, not aging. Although there are several inevitable physiologic changes that will occur as you age, the degree of these changes can be manipulated through sound dietary and exercise practices.

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