What I Learned Reading Dr. Stacy Sims Book: Roar

I set a goal for 2020 to read one fiction book and one non-fiction book every month.

In February, I was so pumped when I got off the waiting list at the library and could crack into Roar.

After following Dr. Stacy Sims on instagram, watching her Ted Talk and listening to her on a few podcasts, I was really excited to learn more about her research on women and health/nutrition/fitness.

My bad.

So for years, I’ve thought that fasting was good and promoted autophagy. Turns out, this may only be true for MEN!

It’s so interesting that the research that’s been done isn’t wrong — it’s just been assumed that what we’ve found out about men can be directly applied to women.

I’ve also thought that the “anabolic window” (time immediately post exercise) wasn’t very important for getting in nutrition. Turns out, this may only be true for MEN!

I’ll touch more on fasting and post-workout nutrition below, but don’t worry if you feel like you’ve been missing out because you haven’t know these things either. There’s a difference between what is optimal and what still works. Some of these strategies might bump up your performance a few percent — so it’s important to remember that if you can’t get in a post-workout protein shake all is not lost.

Takeaways From Roar

  1. Fasting. Fasting increases cortisol (our stress hormone). Increased cortisol can promote fat storage. It’s looking like men and women respond differently to fasting (periods of not eating). This was interesting for me to hear because personally, my body responds pretty well to fasting and I feel great/ have no negative effects. So I won’t say that I’ll never do a fast again, but for the meantime I’m not doing any in the near future!
  2. Post-Workout Nutrition. Due to multiple factors, but largely our hormones (which I’ll touch on more in #5) women need protein quickly after a workout so that we stop muscle breakdown. Dr. Sims recommends 20-30 grams of high-leucine protein within 30 minutes of your workout. Since I workout early in the morning I’m first going to try having BCAA’s before and after my workout (mostly for the leucine) and see if I notice any recovery effects from that!
  3. Training Around Your Menstrual Cycle. The luteal phase (especially the time before our period when estrogen and progesterone are high) is the most troublesome time. Once E & P drop (and your period starts) this and the days after your period are actually when we are the strongest. I’m gotten asked by many clients over the years if they should workout on their periods and the answer is a resounding YES.
  4. Sweating. As women we start sweating later than men, we “sweat less; our sweat is more diluted; we have fewer sweat glands per square inch; and our sweat glands are distributed more toward our arms and hands (men have more in their torso region).” Stacy’s top suggestion for this is to stay hydrated and drink ice cold drinks/cool towels, especially when exercising in high temperatures.
  5. Hormones & Muscles. Estrogen (which goes through increases in both the follicular and luteal phases) decreases our muscle building capacity. Progesterone (which increases in our luteal phase) increase our muscle breakdown. This is a double whammy for muscle. But not all is lost — paying attention to nutrition during this time, especially leucine post-workout, can help to counteract the affects of increased E&P.
  6. Leucine. Before reading this book, I knew Leucine was an amino acid — but research in men had told me that amino acids weren’t necessary if I was getting enough total protein in my diet. I still think the protein/nutrition we get in a 24 hour period is the most important thing, however Stacy has definitely convinced me that Leucine is the “muscle-building amino acid” we need pre and post workout. When we workout intensely, our bodies breakdown BCAAs and overall muscle tissues. Getting in enough leucine signals our to stop the breakdown process so that instead we can repair and grow that muscle tissue.
  7. Importance of Carbs. I remembered learning this fact in college, but hadn’t thought about it in years. Restricting carbs from our diets causes our brain to produce less serotonin (known as our “feel good hormone”). Women already have way less serotonin than men, so adding a low carb diet in the mix can mean negative results for your mood. If you tend to like a diet lower in carbs, she recommends not going lower than 120 grams.

That’s it! I really enjoyed the information in this book and would highly recommend giving it a read!

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