Stress can be a factor in having amenorrhea (the absence of a menstrual cycle), but it’s rarely the only one. And as sports nutrition and performance expert Rebecca McConville explains, it goes both ways, in that having RED-S / REDs (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport) increases the stress in our body.
She describes how food/fuel actually becomes our mood, and how stress affects us physically.
Read the transcript
[Tina] My life is really stressful right now. I have a lot going on; is that why I have RED-S right now?
[Becca] It could be. It could be a barrier to connecting with your body, as well, to understand what you need. So RED-S can increase the stress in our body, and one thing that really gets overlooked is that food, fuel, becomes our mood. It’s broken down into neurotransmitters that cross into our brain and then they actually get up there, and then whatever feelings we are expressing will then become a mood. So when we are not eating enough fuel, or enough energy, we actually become kind of a flatter effect, which can feel stressful at times. The other piece of this is, you know, when we’re doing a high level of training, you have to build in time to be able to prepare meals, get your snacks. I think sometimes we make it overly complicated, but when life is stressful, the natural instinct is sometimes to put self-care on the back burner, which then can make the situation even more stressful.
[Tina] Is a menstrual cycle disruption, can that ever just be from stress and nothing else, or is there usually caloric deficit or other factors involved?
[Becca] The literature would say that it can be purely from stress; however, I’ve never seen where somebody is sleeping perfectly, eating enough, training within their parameters, and still super stressed. There’s usually some piece of it that ends up trickling, so I think it’s really hard to isolate that particular variable. And one of the words I really love to use is, we lose our resiliency, right? When we’re stressed, our body can’t handle even some of the smallest things that normally it would be able to. You know, even viruses and colds, your ability to tolerate maybe stressful environments with your co-workers or your kids, or things like that, which then gets magnified, as well.
[Tina] Okay, thank you.
check it out
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.
Go to athleticgreens.com/reds to get five free travel packs of AG1 and a free one year’s supply of vitamin D3+K2 with your subscription!
When you go to https://tracksmith.com/tina and use the code TINA15 at checkout, you’ll get free shipping and Tracksmith will donate 5% of your order to Rising Hearts, the Indigenous-led nonprofit founded by Jordan Marie Daniels.
more about becca:
Rebecca McConville, RD, LD, CSSD, CEDS, is a sports nutrition and performance expert who helps her clients explore and strengthen their relationship with food, weight, body image and sports performance. Her book, “Finding Your Sweet Spot,” helps athletes maximize their potential while avoiding the dangers of RED-S. You can find Becca at https://beccamcconville.com.