S2 – 14: Women Specific Nutrition and Training with Dr. Stacy Sims

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Welcome to The Betty Rocker Show, the place to be to nourish your mind, love your body, and rock your life.

It’s so great to have you here as I welcome back the one and only Dr. Stacy Sims, who is a scientist, educator and leader in the field of women specific research in health, nutrition and exercise. Over the years many women have been basing their training and nutrition strategies around research done on men, because women’s hormones were seen as “too complicated” – as we were literally being left out of the research.

It’s no wonder so many of women have struggled with understanding what’s happening with their bodies, why they’re not responding to the commonly prescribed diet and exercise strategies, and why we so often feel dismissed by doctors for our very valid health concerns. Dr. Sims is on a mission to help us with women-specific scientific information that you can apply immediately!

Dr Sims served as an exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist at Stanford University from 2007 through 2012. Her revolutionary book, Roar, sparked a movement in the way we as women approach our training across our lifespan, and her new book, Next Level is designed specifically for the peri and post menopausal female athlete.

I recommend both of these books, and also having a listen to the 2-part podcast we did earlier in Season 2 to brush up on the menstrual cycle and its changes across our lifespan, as well as specific strategies you can implement to get the most out of your amazing female body at every age and life stage.

These strategies are all applicable to your Betty Rocker programs and challenges, and will help you understand why they work so well and empower you to get even more comfortable adjusting and customizing things to where you’re at in your life.

Today, we are continuing our conversation with some more in depth discussion of dietary strategies as they relate to WOMEN specifically, including low carb diets, intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet; nutrient timing, why it’s essential to focus on muscle over fat loss, and we’ll be discussing optimal training strategies for women at all ages, including peri and post menopause, as well as hormone replacement therapy and adaptogenic herbs.

This is a save and bookmark for reference episode. Thanks for being here!

From her site:

“My vision is a world of healthy women who understand their bodies, know how to work with their unique physiology, know their periods are ergogenic aids and create positivity around being a woman in sport.

Together we can shift the destructive narrative and elevate women in research, science, and sport.”

In this episode, you’ll discover:

Welcoming back Dr. Stacy Sims (1:28)

What drives Dr. Sims to pursue this work (4:23)

  • Empowering women of all ages
  • Breaking down the negative stereotypes of women’s life stage transitions
  • The cultural filter we don’t always realize we’re working through
  • Women’s performance potential and the bias in the research
  • How diet culture has failed women

Do low carb diets serve women’s physiology? (7:59)  

  • Dr Sims blog post: Female Athletes Need Carbohydrates
  • Metabolic differences between men and women
  • Estrogen’s impact on appetite
  • Brain differences between men and women

Why the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting may work well for men but not women (9:31)

  • Research on these diets was done on male test subjects
  • Body composition concerns with the ketogenic diet for women
  • Lack of diversity in the keto diet for the gut microbiome
  • Why you burn muscle on the ketogenic diet

Why measuring body composition is better than weighing yourself on the scale (13:34)

  • How “weight loss” is still a misunderstood goal that is not helping women see real progress
  • The things that influence your scale weight
  • The difference in composition between muscle and fat
  • Why you look leaner when you gain muscle

Fueling around your workouts and the danger of low energy availability (LEA) (15:57)

  • Why are we still demonizing carbohydrates?
  • How the body naturally fluctuates between fuel sources
  • The nourishment the body needs just to exist vs what it needs when we do daily activities
  • How the stress of training creates adaptations (when we are fueled)
  • How the stress of training impacts our thyroid and metabolism when we are under-fueled and training

The fallacy of “eat less, exercise more” (20:04)

  • The way the “eat less” mindset plays into women feeling they should be smaller and take up less space
  • The wrong kind of stress that the “exercise more” mindset creates
  • The issues with gut health, cardiovascular health and mental health from eating less

Women do not need to shrink for society (21:08)

  • The cultural push to “be a certain size”
  • The incredible pressure on women to be smaller
  • Women should take up as much space as they like!
  • What Stacy’s daughter learned from her friends mom about “what she needed to do to see her abs”

Eating to be STRONG, not eating less (23:50)

  • The misperception about why we should focus more on muscle
  • How hard it is to build muscle, let alone “get bulky”
  • Reasons why muscle is so beneficial
  • Shifting our focus away from fat loss and toward muscular strength as the primary goal

Becoming self sufficient at any age and the reasons why we train (27:32)

  • Strengthening the body now determines quality of life later in life
  • Defining your long term vision
  • Building and preserving lean muscle
  • Thinking about how you can set up the future version of yourself with the actions you take today

How peri and post menopausal women can set themselves up for success (30:10)

  • Signs of menopause and changes women go through
  • The way estrogen and progesterone changes impact blood sugar stability
  • The way women in this life stage can bypass the hormone fluctuation to stimulate muscle growth
  • Why heavier lifting (than you were before) is essential to women in this life stage
  • Why protein intake and nutrient timing is essential to women in this life stage
  • Reviewing the way estrogen and progesterone impact our body composition goals when we’re still cycling regularly
  • The first and second half of the menstrual cycle and how our body responds
  • How our hormones change through the stages of women’s life cycle
  • Why it’s essential to not take a “no days off” approach in peri and post menopause

Today’s podcast is brought to you by ROCK AND RESTORE, my free-form essential amino acid formula. This great tasting fruit punch formula contains 30 servings of all 9 of the essential amino acids (including the BCAA’s) in their free form for rapid absorption and metabolic use so you can rock your workouts, build lean muscle, recover faster, boost your immune system and improve cognitive function.

Learn more about Rock and Restore right here!

The uses and benefits of adaptogenic herbs (43:01)

  • Blog post: 6 Adaptogens that support hormone balance 
  • Dr. Sims’ premium membership (includes many learning modules, including one about adaptogenic herbs)
  • Peri-menopause symptoms and how they’re often addressed by doctors
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as a tool in the toolbox
  • What adaptogens are and how they work with the body
  • The benefits of ashwaghanda
  • How the body adjusts to the presence of the adaptogens
  • The benefits of schisandra

How to connect with Dr. Stacy Sims and her work (52:36)

If you are thinking about how you can implement the training strategies she talked about into your own life and are feeling overwhelmed by the strength training or heavy lifting component, I really encourage you to approach that with the mentality of lifting heav-IER than you are right now. If you’re brand new and just starting to exercise frequently, build a solid base with my foundational bodyweight programs.

If you’ve built a strong foundation or base with bodyweight workouts, consider adding in dumbbells for extra resistance. If you’ve been in a rut with light dumbbells, consider going up in weight with what you’re currently using so you can’t do as many reps.

Once you get to the point where you can’t comfortably hold the dumbbells but feel like you could challenge yourself further, that’s when it’s time to try out barbells and adding weight with weight plates. There is a progressive aspect to this, so don’t feel like you need to go from zero to barbells or that that is the only way to progress.

Dr. Sims and I discussed this in the first 2 episodes we did together, that going heavier is relative to each of us. You want to do this safely, so building a foundation first is essential.

I teach you all of this in my challenge programs in Rock Your Life. We have everything from foundational bodyweight challenge programs, to challenges that include dumbbells and simple home workout equipment, all the way up to weight training challenges that you do with heavier weight, and I teach you all the progressions.

Today’s podcast is brought to you by ROCK YOUR LIFE, my online home workout studio and uplifting women’s fitness community where you can enjoy programs and challenges to build strength for consistent, sustainable progress. Enjoy new classes each week, healthy recipes, a private women’s only support community and MORE!

New members can get a 30-Day Trial RIGHT HERE!

So if you’re in peri or post menopause, really start to think about how you can train to increase the challenge to your muscles with resistance training, and build on where you currently are. Do those explosive plyometric moves that I write into your programs, as they are far more supportive to your goals than long endurance cardio, especially in peri and post menopause.

If you’re in that peri or post menopause life stage, you want to pay attention to the “polarity” of your training intensity. If a workout program is written with 5 days in a row, adapt it for your life stage and do 2 days on, 1 day off, or work out every other day as an example. This allows you to recover better, and hit your workouts harder when you do them and get better results in the absence of the circulating estrogen progesterone – assuming you’re also fueling appropriately and eating enough protein and whole food carbs.

And if you’re still having a regular cycle, you can benefit from continuing to challenge your body with regular exercise and balanced nutrition as well. Your cycling estrogen and progesterone give you an edge to make all of your workouts even more effective, but it’s essential that you’re fueling appropriately around your workouts, and not overtraining.

See my Cycle Training Guide right here!

I have been having ongoing conversations about ALL of these topics and so many more inside Rock Your Life, my online home workout studio and women’s fitness community. In my regular office hours I’m able to connect with the members and answer their questions and share more information that relates to them specifically.

If you’re not a member yet, I highly encourage you to join us, you can get a 30 day trial and come see what you’ve been missing.

I’ve got a huge class library with over 1000 classes of all types, including foundational bodyweight strength training, workouts where you can add in some simple home workout equipment like dumbbells and stretchy bands, all the way up to heavier weight training classes. There are barre classes, yoga classes, mobility classes, plyometrics and circuit. Plus I’ve got dozens of guided workout challenges to give you the perfect sequence to progress through. I see incredible stories every day from my Rock Your life home gym members, and being able to support them in our private women’s fitness community alongside the Team Betty Rocker coaches is a wonderful experience.

Dr Sims and I both share a mission of empowering women with tools and knowledge and the best thing I offer is Rock Your Life. Doing 1-off workouts is good, doing a program is great, but having ongoing challenges and programs over time so you can stay consistent and build a healthy lifestyle with guidance from the coaches is the absolute BEST for seeing lasting results and feeling supported on your journey.

I encourage you to grab that 30 day trial so you can see what it’s all about and take your time enjoying everything I have to offer without any pressure or obligation.

Thank you so much for listening to today’s show, and for caring about your health. Thank you for sharing these podcast episodes with your friends and family and helping to empower other women.

I look forward to our next conversation.

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New shows are released every other week during Season 2 of The Betty Rocker Show.

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