6 minute read
Women after menopause
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Dr. Stacy Sims (PhD)
Interview: Patrizia Zanetti Pictures: Dr. Stacy T. Sims Team Dr. Stacy T. Sims (48) from Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand is an absolute guru on female athletes and nutrition. She has over 85K followers on Instagram, in 2016 she published a book “ROAR” which was a complete success, she offers plenty of online courses and she takes time to answer questions for SPORTFISI@. This woman is a force to be reckoned with.
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Originally, she was an exercise physiologist and nutritional scientist at Stanford University from 2012-2017, where she specialised in gender differences in training, nutrition and health.
Sims became popular with her statement “women are not small men!”, and she goes even further: “Stop eating and training like one”.
She says about herself: “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” (www.drstacaysims.com).
Sims lives together with her husband and young daughter on a beautiful beach in New Zealand.
Book / ROAR/ english 2016 / german 2021 instagram.com/ drstacysims/ facebook.com/ drstacysims/ TEDx Talks, September 2019
SPORTFISI@: On average, how long does menopause last for women?
Sims: Menopause is actually just one day on the calendar, marking 12 months of no periods. PERI-menopause is the 5 or so years before that point, and POST-menopause is the new biological state after the periods stop (this time period can be half of a woman’s adult life).
How do hormones change during menopause and what influence does this have on the female body?
In peri-menopause, the levels of oestrogen and progesterone change from what they were in the early reproductive years. This is usually due to anovulation: no egg is released, thus no progesterone is produced, causing a cycle of oestrogen dominance. Other hormone profiles might be that both oestrogen and progesterone are low due to a drop in the luteinizing hormone surge, again not allowing for ovulation. The influence is major: oestrogen and progesterone affect every system of the body. What we usually observe in the peri-menopausal years, and which extends into the postmenopausal years (if training and nutrition are not modified), is an increase in abdominal fat, reduced lean mass, mood and brain changes, bone density reduction, soft tissue injuries and joint pain.
Which fundamental things do women have to adapt during training?
Oestrogen and progesterone influence recovery, building muscle, and sleep quality, Because of this, women need to focus on a different approach to periodisation of training- both in the week, and across training blocks. In a week, a woman should be focusing on a pattern of no more than 2 hard days in a row, followed by 2 easy days. The hard needs to be HARD, and the easy, should be super, super easy (polarised training). In the training blocks, the approach is a 2 week build, one week de-load/recovery. The basic idea is to significantly reduce the moderate-intensity (70-80% max) work, and focus on less volume, more high quality work (85+%max in the sessions, with 50% max recovery days).
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Why do post-menopausal women need to focus more on strength than endurance training?
By the nature of sex differences at birth, women’s bodies are already fully capable of endurance, going long and slow. Oestrogen and progesterone fluctuations across the premenopausal menstrual cycle enable women to have times where power and speed are easy, and times where steady state/endurance are easy. When these hormones flatline (e.g. peri into post-menopause), we need to find a way to stress the body to keep lean mass and to keep the fast twitch fibres used in speed and power. Strength training is critical for this, along with plyometric exercises. Without the strength component, there is a significant loss of total muscle mass as well as muscle tissue integrity and the neural signalling for fast twitch activation.
How can diet be adjusted?
With the change in hormones, women become more insulin resistant and anabolic resistant. This means that blood glucose levels can remain elevated and there is a lack of signalling for building lean mass. In this, we need to look at nutrient timing and getting carbohydrates from veggies and fruit. Nutrient timing means where women can make the most gains: women in peri or post menopause need a larger amount of protein post exercise to get an anabolic response to build muscle tissue. Women are looking for ~35 to 40 grams of whey protein isolate equivalent within 30-45 minutes. This is ~5 to 6 grams of leucine with accompanying essential amino acids. Post exercise is also the time to have carbohydrate: there is a bigger uptake of carbohydrate into the muscle and liver without insulin, post exercise. The inflammatory responses are stronger after menopause, what does this mean for strength training and recovery?
In the peri-to-post menopausal years, there is an increase in systemic inflammation, which is partially responsible for the accelerated rate of ovarian failure. With this increased inflammation, women should look to include more antiinflammatory foods across all meals (e.g. vegetables and fruit!). With regards to adaptations of strength and body composition changes; adequate recovery in the form of easy days and good quality sleep are essential. To improve recovery, looking to use modalities such as cold water immersion, compression tights, and massage (even foam rolling) are good to do. Nutrient timing also comes into play here; woman should not go into a training session fasted or under-fuelled, as this will increase inflammatory responses to exercise.
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danke merci grazie
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