1

votes

Paleo teenage runner and no period?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 15, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Hi there, so my dilemma is this:

I'm currently 15. In around July 2012 I severely screwed up my body by eating too little and running too much and I dropped about 20lbs in a very unhealthy manner. Think no fat, very little meat, mostly tofu and brown rice and boiled vegetables. I was feeling faint all the time but I kept pushing my body and eventually my period went away. I was almost diagnosed as anorexic, and due to pressure from doctors and my family I cut down on the running to maximum of 8-10 miles/week, but I didn't quite change my diet.

Around April this year, before I started Paleo, I took a blood test and my red blood cell count and female hormone levels were dangerously low. You could say that hormonally, I was a guy. Doc said it was due to lack of fat in the diet. Now I feel a lot better and I'm pretty sure my RBC count should be alright; I'm not sure about the hormone levels though, but I'm still wondering why I have not gotten my period yet.

In June, however, I discovered Paleo - best thing ever! I started eating a LOT more; I knew I was a growing teenager and I needed a lot of calories, especially if I wanted to get back into running again. When my weight climbed back up and I was feeling a lot stronger, especially with the presence of MEAT again, I began to up my mileage and right now I'm training for a 10K at the end of October, logging about 30-35 miles/week.

I'm about 5'5, and I'm underweight still by normal standards at about 106 lbs, but when measured at school I'm considered 'normal weight', probably because the BMI standards for Asians are somewhat different. I've visibly gained weight and no longer look like a stick and I feel a lot stronger and I'm running faster, but I still have no period.

My daily intake, if it's of any help, goes something like this:

Breakfast ~6.15am: 4 eggs in coconut oil, stir-fried vegetables in coconut oil, and some ground beef or avocado or bone broth on some days

Lunch ~2pm: Salad with a lot of roasted vegetables (about 2-3 cups), 2 grilled chicken breasts, extra virgin olive oil

Dinner ~6.30pm: Baked sweet potato, stir-fried vegetables in coconut oil, grilled salmon or chicken breasts or pork ribs soup (I have a Chinese grandma, can't expect anything else), and on days before long runs I usually have a heavy curry made with a lot of coconut milk (for the fats!)

Supper ~9.30pm: Roasted chestnuts, fruits (apples, frozen berries, pears), coconut milk

When I was around this weight last year, I'd just started upping my mileage but I still had my period, so why am I not getting it now?

Thanks. :)

A048b66e08306d405986b6c04bf5e8e4

on December 28, 2012
at 06:59 AM

I'm aware of the Female Athlete Triad...yet why is it that as females we're told it's beautiful and healthy to be lean and to sport guns and cannonball delts and chiseled abs and inner thigh gaps, but we're also told we need to "look like women" (big boobs, narrow waist, wide hips) in order to be beautiful and healthy. Sheesh people make up your mind!

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on December 27, 2012
at 02:33 PM

Not to mention the other effects from not menstruating (and likely having female hormonal imbalances) -- namely, osteopenia and eventually osteoporosis. Contrary to what we see on magazine covers, healthy, robust adult females really do need to look like women, and not little boys. (Emaciated little boys, at that.) Pilates Gatekeeper -- recommend you listen to Sean Croxton's Underground Wellness podcast episode about the Female Athlete Triad. Great stuff there

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on December 27, 2012
at 02:32 PM

Not to mention the *other* effects from not menstruating (and likely having female hormonal imbalances) -- namely, osteopenia and eventually osteoporosis. Contrary to what we see on magazine covers, *healthy, robust* adult females really do need to look like woman, and not little boys. (Emaciated little boys, at that.) Pilates Gatekeeper -- recommend you listen to Sean Croxton's Underground Wellness podcast episode about the Female Athlete Triad. great stuff there.

Ed0cb30f40daff568778b776b2a5a81d

(943)

on December 27, 2012
at 09:55 AM

Having too little fat and with negative psychological/physical effects from it is actually not that fun either. Trust me.

Ed0cb30f40daff568778b776b2a5a81d

(943)

on December 27, 2012
at 09:53 AM

I would assume a question period would give it away for most people...

A90dfb3c8b984191d8102ccfc0203e90

on September 16, 2012
at 01:37 AM

Actually, it's not very low in carbs 'cause of all the fruit/chestnuts I eat at night. I did calculate my intake before and my average carb intake a day is around 150g-200g.

93eea7754e6e94b6085dbabbb48c0bb7

on September 15, 2012
at 03:25 PM

By the way your eating menu looks fabulous! Applause to you for Nourishing your body so well.

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10 Answers

4
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on September 15, 2012
at 02:05 PM

Hormones can take a while to re-balance. The body isn't a mechanical system, so the weight you were when you lost your period may not be the same weight you need to be to regain your period.

You may need to get your weight/body fat up to around 120-125, while eating nutrient-dense foods like liver and fatty red meat. No need to be afraid of animal fats, especially if you are able to get 100% grass-fed meat.

Zinc and Magnesium supplementation may be helpful.

Sleep and reduced stress are also essential for hormonal balance, so make sure these are addressed as well.

1
3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on September 15, 2012
at 03:44 PM

Your diet sound wonderful, but the running is creating chronic stress and constant inflammation because of cortisol levels. Dialing back on "chronic cardio" in favor of a more sane exercise program (Mark Sisson's for example) with lifting heavy weights, occasional sprinting AND plenty of rest and recovery is important if you want to restore your fertility. You may not be thinking about fertility now, but years of chronic abuse will impair it when you are ready later.

You've done a great job turning around your diet, now go the rest of the way with a healthier exercise plan.

0
A048b66e08306d405986b6c04bf5e8e4

on December 27, 2012
at 04:08 AM

Sounds like your body fat % became to low to be able to menstruate. I'm menstruating and have more body fat than I would like. You wanna trade?

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on December 27, 2012
at 02:32 PM

Not to mention the *other* effects from not menstruating (and likely having female hormonal imbalances) -- namely, osteopenia and eventually osteoporosis. Contrary to what we see on magazine covers, *healthy, robust* adult females really do need to look like woman, and not little boys. (Emaciated little boys, at that.) Pilates Gatekeeper -- recommend you listen to Sean Croxton's Underground Wellness podcast episode about the Female Athlete Triad. great stuff there.

A048b66e08306d405986b6c04bf5e8e4

on December 28, 2012
at 06:59 AM

I'm aware of the Female Athlete Triad...yet why is it that as females we're told it's beautiful and healthy to be lean and to sport guns and cannonball delts and chiseled abs and inner thigh gaps, but we're also told we need to "look like women" (big boobs, narrow waist, wide hips) in order to be beautiful and healthy. Sheesh people make up your mind!

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on December 27, 2012
at 02:33 PM

Not to mention the other effects from not menstruating (and likely having female hormonal imbalances) -- namely, osteopenia and eventually osteoporosis. Contrary to what we see on magazine covers, healthy, robust adult females really do need to look like women, and not little boys. (Emaciated little boys, at that.) Pilates Gatekeeper -- recommend you listen to Sean Croxton's Underground Wellness podcast episode about the Female Athlete Triad. Great stuff there

Ed0cb30f40daff568778b776b2a5a81d

(943)

on December 27, 2012
at 09:55 AM

Having too little fat and with negative psychological/physical effects from it is actually not that fun either. Trust me.

0
B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on September 15, 2012
at 11:07 PM

I was a cross country runner in high school and a vegetarian (still ate a lot of eggs and dairy). I never severely restricted calories or lost a lot of weight at once, but I eventually stopped menstruating at about 16. My period came back about a year and a half later when I went to college (I weighed about 115 lbs at 5' 9" and about 17% body fat when I lost it). About three years into college I went on and off birth control pills and lost it again (even though I was very healthy at about 22% body fat and 130 lbs at that time). That time it didn't come back for about a year. Turns out I have PCOS, which causes severe hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, and irregular menstruation, which probably is why my body took so long to re-balance hormonally even when I was at a healthy weight.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know, some of us have been there and yes, it really can take a long time for your body to resume healthy functioning, whether you have a hormonal issue like PCOS or not. Keep up with the healthy diet and eventually I think you will see your body heal.

0
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on September 15, 2012
at 06:06 PM

It sounds like you are on the right track with lots of nourishing foods. Focus on eating what makes you feel good! Make sure your attitude and heart are in the right place, don't be afraid to reach out to a counselor or support group if you are anxious about your eating or about not having your period. Body changes can be stressful, even if they are positive.

In the meantime, I would recommend getting "Taking Charge of Your Fertility", available on Amazon and many book stores. It's a great resource to give you general knowledge about reproductive health, and tracking will help you notice bodily changes and have some data you could bring in to an OB/GYN if it comes to that. It is empowering to know more about your body, and I think it would be really helpful through this time of change!

0
2c24b5d535ab1322e037099d023039f4

on September 15, 2012
at 04:38 PM

I basically went through the same thing you did, but at age 18. Lost 20lbs via severe calorie restriction, kept running like crazy. Then I gained all 20lbs back and wondered why I didn't get my period back (I hadn't had it for 2.5 years!). Once I gained the 20lbs back it took about 8 months before it came back. I was still running and training pretty hard. It does take a while for the hormones to balance out.

0
D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

on September 15, 2012
at 02:59 PM

I happen to notice that your diet is very low in carbs. This is something of a weak argument since I'm not familiar with the science of it off hand, but I know that women who are pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant are not generally advised, even within the paleo/WAPF community, to drastically lower their carbs. Since you are trying to balance your female hormones, it would make sense to follow a similar protocol. Here are some links for your consideration. :)

http://www.paleoforwomen.com/carbohydrates-for-fertility-and-health/ http://www.paleoforwomen.com/how-extremity-can-make-even-the-best-diet-fail/ http://chriskresser.com/chris-masterjohn-on-cholesterol-and-heart-disease-part-3

A90dfb3c8b984191d8102ccfc0203e90

on September 16, 2012
at 01:37 AM

Actually, it's not very low in carbs 'cause of all the fruit/chestnuts I eat at night. I did calculate my intake before and my average carb intake a day is around 150g-200g.

0
C4ea0e0e12d924554ee197e5452c80a3

(240)

on September 15, 2012
at 02:53 PM

Running is very stressful on the body. The body steals pregnenelone away from sexual functions (reproduction) to deal with all the stress you are putting on it. Running seems like just another way to force a sense of control over your body. Remove the stressor and your period will come back over time. Keep up the great eating too and get lots of rest.

0
Af939911afa817f79a4625d4f503c735

on September 15, 2012
at 02:05 PM

Good for you for taking charge of your health - your current diet looks great!

I've never lost my period, but hearing from other women who have, I know that it can take a while to correct that severe of a hormone imbalance. Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites has talked about this on her podcast. Look in the archives and/or write her a question.

The only suggestion I have is to reduce your training for a while - or alter it, rather. Cut out the distance running in favor of things like walking and weight training.

-1
59fa7cd87fb9d669adf21e5cf3e7ada5

on September 15, 2012
at 11:29 PM

Imo the first question is: Are you male or female?

Ed0cb30f40daff568778b776b2a5a81d

(943)

on December 27, 2012
at 09:53 AM

I would assume a question period would give it away for most people...

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