You assume that if you stop restricting yourself to regain your menstrual cycle, you’ll “get fat.” As sports nutritionist Nancy Clark explains, eating more, while it may result in gaining weight, doesn’t equal “getting fat.” Not only that, she details the many physical, mental and emotional benefits that increasing your energy intake provides, versus the costs of not fueling yourself adequately. It isn’t just about overcoming amenorrhea; it’s about your quality of life.


Read the transcript

[Tina]  I’m not prepared to gain weight or let go of restricting myself. What can I do? 

[Nancy]  Well, if you let go of restricting yourself, you’re making an assumption that you’re going to gain weight, and if you do, it’s because right now your body is too thin for its genetics. But  instead of using the words “gain weight,” maybe you want to think about restoring your muscles, improving your bone density, and maybe having thicker hair, you know, so that weight is not the issue, but it’s health and it’s also quality of life. So if you’re thinking that, “Oh no, I have to ‘get fat’ in order to get my period,” that is absolutely not the case.

 I’ve worked with many clients who have restored their bodies; yes, the scale has gone up, but they have more muscle, they’re more powerful, they look prettier, and they’re just healthier. So think of this as a health issue and not a “get fat” issue. 

 [Tina ] What if someone is is thinking in response to that, “I hear that on a logical level, but I just can’t quite take it to heart to do something about that.” 

[Nancy]  Okay, and if you can’t take it to heart to do something about it, you might really want to dig deep inside and figure out why, and it sounds like your whole identity is wrapped up in having this “perfect body,” if that’s what you have right now.  And so it gets to be an identity issue, and is that the identity that’s really going to be most important in your whole life? I mean, the cost of of being perfectly thin and having this “runner’s body” generally is quite high, and the cost is often relationships; it’s like, “Oh, you go have pizza with your friends; I’ve got to go do another workout,” or “I’ve got to go do my homework,” or something like that.

So it’s a quality of life issue. If you are having this body that you really like right now and are afraid to change it, just look at what the cost of it is, and if you could just stay at a low weight and have no cost associated with it, maybe that’s what your genetic blueprint is, but for most people, when they’re way too lean for their body, for their genetics, it’s because they’re fighting mother nature and there’s a huge cost to that. It’s under eating, it’s over exercising, it’s reduced quality of life, it’s exhaustion, it’s bad moods, it’s irritability, and I think you’d probably have a better identity if you were perky, and well fed, and ready to party. You know, that’s what people are really looking for. 

 [Tina]  That is so true, and that’s something I can definitely attest to. You know this from us working together, that I I very much experienced a lot of those things you talked about. I didn’t want to let go;  I remember saying to you that exact thing of, “I’m scared if I let myself eat what I want to eat, when I want to eat it, that I won’t be able to stop,” and you kind of said what you said there, and assured me that I would, and it was hard to believe at times, but then I reached a point, and I remember this moment so clear, where it was like someone flicked off the switch and suddenly I wasn’t hungry anymore. And it wasn’t that I didn’t get hungry, but it wasn’t like this constant hunger. 

So thank you. Thank you for that, and I want to remind people watching this, that yes, that is a terrifying thing to do, but if you trust yourself, you will balance yourself out in terms of that craving. It will, it will fade away. 

 [Nancy]  Yeah, you need to trust your body. You know, once upon a time you were a normal eater and you ate when you were hungry, and you stopped when you were content, and what happened? You stopped eating when you were hungry, and then you don’t stop eating when you’re content, and  so the fear of overeating and never stopping is just a result of having been denied and deprived and restricted. 

 [Tina]  Yes, thank you so much, Nancy.

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Recovering from RED-S is hard. It’s even harder if you’re working through it alone. Even if you have professional support, they’re not available 24-7, and that can lead to going down search engine rabbit holes that have the potential to derail everything.

Our online resource, RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover, will answer all those questions swimming around in your head about recovery. It will give you the opportunity to connect with the experts you’ve come to know here, and to surround  yourself with a community of others who are going through it too. THANK YOU! to Athletic Greens and Tracksmith for supporting this YouTube series and RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover.

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more about nancy:

Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD has a successful sports nutrition private practice in the Boston area. She has years of experience helping active clients—from “ordinary mortals” to Olympians—win with good nutrition. Her best-selling “Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook” has sold over 800,000 copies. It is a popular resource for reliable sports nutrition information, as is her online sports nutrition workshop. Nancy is a sought-after nutrition counselor for athletes who struggle with food-and weight issues, as well as a nutrition speaker popular with dietitians, trainers, coaches, and other health professionals. You can find her at

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