Book Review – Roar by Stacy T. Sims PhD
Roar : How to match your food and fitness to your female Physiology for optimum performance, great health and a strong lean body for life.
ROAR was recommended to me by Dr Craig Harrison, who said it was a must read and on that recommendation I bought it immediately.
Initially I didn’t find it that easy. It’s structured funnily – in some places like a training manual but with lots of case studies and also divided up into chapters focusing on different types of athletes and age groups. However on holiday and with a little more time, I had a second look and really love it.
Dr Stacy Sims is an Environmental Exercise Physiologist and Nutrition Scientist. She has worked at a number of universities across the US and is cofounder and CEO of OSMO Nutrition.
What amazes me is why we don’t know this stuff, EVERYBODY should know this stuff. The details of how female physiology differs from a mans is really important to any girl, teenager or adult, whether they play sport or not and the differences between boys and girls should be considered more seriously. During my research into the diets and performance of adolescent girls, it has been very noticeable that almost all the studies are done on boys and there are huge gaps in our knowledge. In ROAR there are loads of interesting details for all ages, hormone changes can be shocking in adolescence, injuries can happen on and off the sports field, sarcopenia and osteoporosis are real concerns during aging and there is no getting away from the menopause.
What are the main points ?
- Before puberty there are similarities between girls and boys but once puberty kicks in, the production of testosterone in boys causes sudden increases in muscle mass, where as the production of oestrogen and progesterone in girls increases fat mass and can be detrimental to the building / repairing of muscle. Specifically high progesterone promotes catabolism (the breakdown of complex molecules to form simpler ones) including break down of skeletal muscle. It is suggested that higher protein intakes are beneficial in female athletes, particularly at high progesterone times in their cycle.
- Oestrogen influences substrate utilisation, causing more fatty acids to be burnt during exercise and sparing glycogen. This may be advantageous during endurance exercise but fat is not as efficient a fuel as carbohydrates at high intensity. This means that when oestrogen is high it can affect sprint performance, making female athletes feel unfit and unable to push as hard or fast as usual.
- Oestrogen and Progesterone also influence core temperature and hydration. During day 14-28 of the cycle when hormones are high (luteal phase) plasma volumes drop by around 8% meaning there is less blood circulation. Reduced circulating blood volume puts strain on the cardiovascular system and leads to increased heart rate. Ensuring proper hydration is particularly important during the luteal phase.
- Elevated core temperature can also reduce performance, particularly in hot climates and has also been linked to poor sleep, particularly the time taken to get to sleep. Core temperatures are found to be slightly elevated during the luteal phase and this can influence quantity and quality of sleep. Drinking a cool drink at bedtime can help with this and drinking tart cherry juice is also beneficial.
ROAR is worth reading.
If you are playing sport or competing then the detailed tips on how to do it better, working with your physiology, will be invaluable. Roar is full of things you can try immediately, it doesn’t just say how, it gives the all the exact detail; the exercises, the foods, the menus, the recipes and the reasons.
If you do not play sport there is still a lot of detail you will find incredibly useful. There is very good advice on the changes during an individual cycle or the menopause and you can just as easily get injured running for the bus.