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Roar: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life

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Women are not small men. Stop eating and training like one.

Because most nutrition products and training plans are designed for men, it’s no wonder that so many female athletes struggle to reach their full potential. ROAR is a comprehensive, physiology-based nutrition and training guide specifically designed for active women. This book teaches you everything you need to know to adapt your nutrition, hydration, and training to your unique physiology so you can work with, rather than against, your female physiology. Exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist Stacy T. Sims, PhD, shows you how to be your own biohacker to achieve optimum athletic performance.

Complete with goal-specific meal plans and nutrient-packed recipes to optimize body composition, ROAR contains personalized nutrition advice for all stages of training and recovery. Customizable meal plans and strengthening exercises come together in a comprehensive plan to build a rock-solid fitness foundation as you build lean muscle where you need it most, strengthen bone, and boost power and endurance. Because women’s physiology changes over time, entire chapters are devoted to staying strong and active through pregnancy and menopause. No matter what your sport is—running, cycling, field sports, triathlons—this book will empower you with the nutrition and fitness knowledge you need to be in the healthiest, fittest, strongest shape of your life.

304 pages, Paperback

First published July 5, 2016

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Stacy T. Sims

2 books71 followers

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5 stars
1,255 (36%)
4 stars
1,337 (38%)
3 stars
669 (19%)
2 stars
145 (4%)
1 star
29 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 386 reviews
Profile Image for E.H..
Author 2 books21 followers
August 17, 2019
For a book written by a PhD, this book makes a lot of specious claims, gives statistics in a way that is misleading, and in general seems to do a lot of hand-waving about the specific recommendations its making. For example: in one info block, the claim is made that intermittent fasting can cause "adrenal fatigue"--not a real disease. Many of the recommendations about pregnancy and training are contradictory or confusing (you should exercise 30-60 min, 3xweek or 45-90 min--which is it?), and although the section aims to debunk common myths, many are perpetuated (like telling women to eliminate their coffee intake). Later on, she notes that "women who take oral contraceptives have a 50 percent higher risk of developing lupus," but as far as I can tell this was found by one study, which found a small increase what is already a small risk--from about 6/100,000 to 12, it was only for certain doses of hormones, and although this fact occurs in the "gut biome" section, there's no evidence that's the mechanism. Yet there's that fact, on page 145, leading one to believe that there's a well-established link there. There is also, as far as I know, not a good link between soy and the ill effects people attribute to it. You can't preload with electrolytes or special "prehydration" products (I mean, you can be well-hydrated or dehydrated, but "hyperhydrating" is not a thing as long as you have working kidneys). I could go on but I won't.

Basically, I feel like if they can't get the science right on these things, why should I trust what they have to say about what I should eat to run better? This is 100% just a normal diet book with a muscular skin.
Profile Image for Tash.
38 reviews
December 26, 2018
Here's some things I got out of the book:

For females, low-carb, high fat and protein diets and intermittent fasting result in muscle loss, not fat loss. Boo. It can pause periods. This is bad. Eat some protein and carbs within half an hour of hardcore exercise.

It's harder to smash HIT exercises a week before your period. You'll feel low on energy and that's because you are. Once your period starts though, your hormones drop back down and it's on like donkey kong.

Menopause does not sound fun, and it sucks that you stop processing carbs as well as you when you're younger. Which resulted in me committing to eat more pasta more often. Gotta make it count. The drop in progesterone also means that you don't sleep as deeply. I hereby commit to sleeping in while I still can.

This book is aimed at Iron(wo)men and the like. I can't really see myself chugging BCAAs, measuring my protein intake or wearing those funny bike pants, but if you do, then this is the book for you.

I wanted citations instead of sweeping statements. There was alot of sentences that started with "Recent research found", other times, the specific study was spoken about in great detail. Some consistency would have made some of this seem more believable (although I know since can be very selective).

Ok, off to eat some pasta and get some shut-eye!
Profile Image for Steph Myers.
345 reviews3 followers
February 18, 2020
So, I decided to run a marathon. Long story, but a friend is traveling to Duluth to do Grandma's Marathon and told her I would do the half. It sold out same day and I sucked it up and clicked the button for the full. It was a lapse of sanity. I can admit that now. This title fell into my lap when I told my dentist about the race. She recommended it. And it has been a solid, sound recommendation. It is not only focused on female physiology, but female biochemistry over the years and how to properly train and prepare to be competitive in sports during pregnancy, menopause and beyond. It's very empowering and the entire section on pre-hydration was a total eye-opener. I feel really good, even on long runs in soft snow when I follow the protocol. I would DEFINITELY recommend it to any of my athletic lady friends.
Profile Image for Amy.
155 reviews9 followers
March 11, 2019
Wow, did I ever need this book.

This book covers female athletes from young adulthood, through perimenopause, menopause, and post menopause. It compare contrasts how female athlete bodies are different from male athletes and how much of the research regarding nutrition, fueling, hydrating, conditioning largely ignore the particulars of female physiology, which hinders our performance and causes a myriad of issues such as GI distress, bloating, dehydration, and more...

Then you get the information you need to understand the effect your hormonal cycles has on your performance and training, and also what to do about it. Simple changes are often all that's needed to reverse these issues that can feel chronic.

Personally, I have been struggling with low-blood pressure, fatigue, and transient issues based on my hormonal levels. Also, whenever I increase my training my appetite goes off the rails and I put on weight while feeling miserable and hungry all the time.

Because of GI issues I've experienced, I wouldn't eat before a run and usually went out hungry. My run would feel grueling and I'd get lightheaded. After my run, I'd drink water and usually feel a little seasick. After that would pass I'd have a light snack (apple or banana) a while later. Then a couple hours later I'd suddenly be ravenous and overeat whatever was within reaching distance.

A few corrections based on the advice in this book, with regards to fueling before a workout (I split my afternoon snack to 1/2 before and 1/2 after and changed it to a protein rich source with easy going carbs, rather than fiber heavy.) Now I feel great during runs. I have consistently shaved off time. When I get home I drink water and finish the second half of my protein rich snack. No more savage pantry raids.

The other stuff is a longer game. I need to analyze my diet, supplements, and blood work to make sure I am getting enough iron and B12 to support my blood. The amount of protein athletes need is also surprising and explains my wimpy blood and lack of gains. I also need to be careful with my hydration, salts, and electrolytes to keep my blood pressure right.

The book also outlines specific strategies for dealing with your high-hormone phase (a week or so before your period) and your period, that are surprisingly simple and very effective. You also learn when your body is primed for putting on muscle and endurance gains, and when your effort is mostly spent fighting nature.

So many of my observations about how I feel now make sense. I workout regularly with my husband, who of course is not subjected to these hormonal shifts, who was certain these fluctuations was "just in my head." Now, I have real answers as to what is going on in my body. I know when to go with the flow, when to train hard, what to eat, drink and how much I need, and how to find and understand metrics that will help me understand what is going on in my body.

I have read numerous magazine articles, books, blogs, and nearly everything in this book was information I had never seen/heard anywhere else. Not from my doctors, when I asked point blank why I have GI issues when I run (at mile 1.5! not 21...), why I feel so tired (you have low-iron, take a supplement), why my performance gains were so slow and arduous. Shrug, shrug, shrug... I thought I was just defective.

Now I have a clear plan that is already working. Maybe a 1/2 marathon isn't impossible for me...Maybe I can surpass the sprint marathon and train for an Olympic...

Last note...I am usually content to borrow books from the library, but I'm glad I own this one. I highlighted passages, I've tabbed pages with recipes and exercise recommendations, and I'm sure I'll be continually referring back to the text as I go through this process of understand my body's relationship to my athletic goals.
Profile Image for Viv JM.
685 reviews152 followers
February 17, 2019
4.5 stars

Stacy Sims mantra is "You are not a small man. Stop eating and training like one" and this book is a really excellent and in-depth look at the science behind these physiological differences and their effects on performance and health. It is a book I would recommend to all sporting and active women and one which I feel I have learned a lot from. The only downside, for me personally, was that it is very much aimed at those involved in endurance sports (perhaps because Sims comes from a triathlon background) and I would have liked a bit more strength/power-based training information and that's the only reason for not giving 5 stars. Highly recommended otherwise!
Profile Image for Liz.
56 reviews
September 16, 2016
Mostly skimmed the second half. Wasn't a big fan -- seemed like some of the information isn't totally accurate and not relevant to me. I was mostly interested in how I can better my eating but ended up with a lot of tips for very serious athletes
Profile Image for Kelli.
78 reviews
January 3, 2018
A few good takeaways. I was looking for more specific information and recommendations. I found the advice very broad for a book with a targeted audience.
459 reviews
May 23, 2017
Meh. Good hook -- women are not small men. I don't doubt the author's info on hydration because that's her field. I am less convinced by her prescriptions for supplements.
Profile Image for Michelle Kilty.
26 reviews4 followers
December 6, 2019
There is some really solid information. However, like some other reviewers have noted, she sometimes slips into pseudoscience and presents possibilities as facts. I hope there will be more books like this in the future, because while some information is useful, other parts are questionable.

I think the Run Fast, Eat Slow books are actually way more useful.
Profile Image for Eve Stark.
171 reviews17 followers
October 22, 2019
If you are a woman who is into fitness, whether new to it or fairly well acquainted, chances are that this book will have something for you.

As the excerpt says, women are not small men. This should not be a revelation to most reading this, but unfortunately the fitness industry tends to lump all their training programs together without any accounting for the specific needs of women. Stacy T. Sims, PhD, who holds her PhD in Environmental Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition, saw this need in the market and put together what is perhaps one of the best and most easily digested books on how to train and eat as a woman. That said, of course something written as broadly as this book is (I said "easily digested") will not be without faults. Some of the statements regarding recent research were stated too generally to be entirely accurate (as noted by a few other reviews). But, overall, there is something in here for the bulk of women who are trying to learn to train smarter, instead of just harder.
Profile Image for Sarah Clement.
Author 1 book96 followers
July 30, 2017
There are too many of these books out there at the moment - books that are given an air of authority because of the author's qualifications and endorsed by a particular community of fitness and health enthusiasts. The book basically boils down to the old, tired trope of using body types to determine how you should eat and train. It's useless, not proven, and particularly not valuable for the majority of the population that is somewhere in between the 3 standard body types. I can't understand the hype around this book, as it's just yet another book that regurgitates the same ideas but doesn't offer anything particularly new, innovative, or scientifically sound.
Profile Image for Laurie Allin.
816 reviews37 followers
January 28, 2019
I've never had a nutrition book really speak to me the way this one did. Her battle cry is: Women are not just small men. And really gets into the physiology of how we're different and why that matters. But she manages to do so in a way that is still easy to read without going all Sheldon Cooper on us. I took a ton of notes on this and then just decided to buy my own copy, which I'm looking forward to re-reading and highlighting the heck out of.
Profile Image for Tina.
826 reviews25 followers
September 25, 2020
Good for women who want to know how to be healthy! A tip I liked: one study shows 54 year old women need an hour of exercise a day to minimize weight gain, which is a lot more than the usual recommendation. Also, don't fill up on so much fiber that you're not getting in other nutrients you need because you feel full. (Note: some swearing.)
Profile Image for Gina.
122 reviews
December 17, 2018
This was excellent. I learned so much about a topic I had no idea about--the effects of the hormone cycle on performance and hydration. I definitely recommend this book to all women and coaches.
Profile Image for Emma Smith.
54 reviews
May 12, 2021
A great insight into how to tailor your training and nutrition to work with your anatomy and body chemistry instead of following advice from studies that are based on a sample of men. There could be a bit more about plant based options in here but it's a great start and allows you to have a good base to start more research.
Profile Image for Shaun.
521 reviews180 followers
March 28, 2020
This was okay.

Main strength: Women are not little men, and training like little men does our body a disservice. I also like that Sims recommends using real food to meet your energy and hydration needs. I think this is wise advice.

I learned two things from this book:

1. A woman’s performance can be impacted by hormones (aka where she is in her cycle). Seems like a no brainer, but not something I had really read much about. In fact, I would have thought performance would be worse during the actual menstrual cycle, but she lays out the evidence for why this is not the case.

2. As women age, changes in their hormones impact how their body burns certain fuel. Again, makes sense and actually good to know. I'll be 49 in a few months, and I do feel as if my approach to training and diet has had to change.

Weakness of this book:

I felt as if beyond the two things I learned not much else was there. Above a few generalizations about hormones, by her own accounting, each athlete has specific needs, and the only way to fully understand what they need is to get tested and then use the results of those tests to tweak what they are doing.

I also don't agree with some of her dietary advice, which goes against other stuff I've read. For example, I think she shortchanges intermittent fasting. I've actually read several books on TRE which is a form of intermittent fasting that has been shown to have many health benefits. I personally have started a 8 hour window of eating with a tremendous amount of success. I'm not participating in an ironman, but I do train regularly. In fact, I think as a woman who is getting very close to menopause, it has helped me beyond expectations. I've never been leaner, stronger, or slept better with less overall effort. So there you go.

So, yeah. It was okay.
Profile Image for Stephanie O'keefe.
184 reviews8 followers
January 19, 2020
This book was recommended to me by my running coach. It is a bible of women’s nutrition! One of the main reasons I never got on the keto or low-carb bandwagon is because it never made sense to me. Women have different nutritional (NOT just caloric) needs than men. This was particularly evident to me in the case of pregnancy and breast-feeding. During those times I knew that if I restricted carbohydrates I would feel worse and/or my milk supply would drop. Also, when I first read a book about the ketogenic diet back in 2015, almost all the studies had been done on men. At that time, there was no discussion whatsoever as to how women might react differently to a low-carb or ketogenic diet. I had a similar reaction to intermittent fasting. Fortunately, there are several women in the ketogenic world who are coming out and talking about how a woman’s cycle greatly influences her nutritional needs at the time. However, there are very few women who are both in the ketogenic world and either recreational athletes or elite athletes. I love that this book tackles everything from periods to menopause to hydration to mindset in women. I’m inclined to say that only athletic women will find this interesting, but I do think there is tons of valuable information for any woman who struggles with their weight, mood, PMS symptoms and etc. And I think men who train women or train with them would get value from seeing how women need to train differently than men. Women are NOT small men! So we need to stop training like them.
Profile Image for Max.
714 reviews14 followers
July 15, 2021
Kind of mixed feelings about this book. It does have some great insights and the idea is great for a book: there are a lot of differences between women and men and most research is done on men. There are some conflicting advices in this, and the recommendations of taking certain supplements and aspirin all the time need some extra research backup, because I don't think that doesn't have side effects. The structure of the book doesn't make sense to me, and I lacked a conclusive end. In all, it has some nice new insights, but it's not perfect.
Profile Image for Erica.
157 reviews3 followers
June 12, 2017
Great for female athletes - even recreational

Absolutely loved the science and advice in this book. I was impressed by the authors ability to write about science accurately in a way that is easily understood
Profile Image for Hanna.
75 reviews14 followers
May 22, 2019
I enjoyed this book and was surprised to discover that it was written well before Lyle McDonald wrote his 400 page 1st Volume of the Woman's Book. A lot of the topics he touches, were already wonderfully explained here. She goes into detail about not only how to work with your menstrual cycle, but also what exactly is happening during menopause and pregenancy as well.
Her dieting advice is also good, even with an example for a vegan diet and how vegetarians need to make sure to be getting in enough Leucine. However, saying that "the quality of food is far more important...than the number of calories contained" can be misleading for some. We can eat the healthiest food, but if we eat too much of it, we might not see results if weight loss is the goal. I think perhaps she didn't want to dish out the typical 1200 kcal limit and help women get away from this mindset that we need to eat very little. Regardless, calories are still a topic and shouldn't be ignored when it comes to weight loss.
Admittedly, it's somewhat discouraging reading her book in the sense that you feel that women's physiology works against them in so many ways. I like the positive attitude of the book, and the focus on hydration and electrolyte intake for women, since women store electrolytes differently than men but the topic is rarely discussed, if ever.
I was a bit surprised that she addresses somatypes, as I understood that this has been debunked scientifically several times. Those are my only two slight "beefs" with the book and reason for a star deduction. Other than that, fantastic book with good recipes and insightful information.

20 reviews
August 20, 2021
An interesting read but I will definitely be taking the contents with a grain of salt... Some of the studies cited have been disproven in the last five years (e.g. the scientific benefit of stretching and foam rolling) and I haven't trawled through the references to personally see what the quality of the studies used for the purposes of the book were but I assume there are some others that are questionable.
222 reviews
February 7, 2021
I think this is an important subject, and I was super into it for about the first half.

There are, as there should be for any non-fiction book, a list of references in the back, but it is frustratingly unclear which references goes with which statements, and that makes it rather difficult to check further details.

The things that blocked me from zooming through the back half as fast as I did the first half were:

1) It goes a little murky on this is science/this is a sales pitch, and I find that seriously off putting as that makes the incentives of the author less clear.

2) Anyone who advises regular intake of medicine looses a lot of credibility in my eyes. Sims advises aspirin for a bunch of stuff - like taking 250 mg aspirin a day for a full week before flying. This feels very wrong to me on a "higher" level.

3) Some of the advise seems to point in different directions. For instance half the book is saying "eat real food!" while the other half is "add protein powder! Take these supplements!" Again this leads to a loss of credibility.

My main take-aways are: Bodies are hella complicated (the specific dietary advice is not particularly straight forward, and most are definitely too much of a hassle for my current life style), and we need more scientific studies on females.
Profile Image for Amanda.
10 reviews
January 14, 2019
There is some very good information here about women and how their bodies work. I felt like although I’m pretty Fit this book wasn’t geared to me. There was far more information for those training for marathons or triathalons. Not much practical for the everyday fitness enthusiast. I would like to see a book like this more geared to the everyday woman. Still 4 stars though because like I said there is good information here if you can weed through what you don’t need.
Profile Image for Adelaide.
81 reviews11 followers
June 3, 2022
I loved this book, it was super eye-opening for my wellness and activity with everything from headaches, GI issues, performance, strength training, improvement in athletic performance, etc. I listened to the audio book and will likely buy a copy for reference (hydration, recovery, and GI issues during performance specifically).

One star off because of the brain chapter; a bit antiquated. The body type section which everyone seems to be up in arms about didn't really seem that significant to the book as a whole, I wonder if publishers force authors like this to include that so reach the weight loss audience. Seemed like an after thought.

I'm surprised by all the negative reviews, a lot of them seemed to fixate of trivialities from the first few chapters, and the rest seem to be complaints about how this book doesn't tell you how to get skinny. My favourite chapter was the one regarding preparation for altitude and heat shifts, I'm susceptible to both, and this was the most in-depth research I've read on the topic, I'm stoked to have this as a reference for improved training.
Profile Image for Maya Senen.
407 reviews19 followers
June 24, 2022
The main idea here is most of the sports training and nutritional guidance is built around men. The test subjects and historical dominance of high performance athleticism has been very male since forever. If you’ve never really thought about that before, this book is a great on-ramp. Stacy will talk you through the menstrual cycle, hormone phases, and other key distinctions in the female physiology, and how to parse those against all the male targeted advice (for instance, ladies, we can’t be intermittent fasting, we just cannot). That being said, some of the statistics and explanations in here are a little weak. Take the main ideas and if you need to go deeper, definitely consult your doctors and coaches/trainers.
23 reviews1 follower
April 13, 2020
Loved the info, a lot was even new to me. Catering nutrition to performance is something I haven't tried, so I've been putting some of her concepts into practice. Hopefully in a few months I'll be able to come back here and give a rave review! I wish there were more clear menu plans, like a full week's worth, especially in the section on body types. Overall, I like Sims' writing style and found certain chapters hard to put down. I was inspired to start back up on MyFitnessPal to track macros rather than calories.
Profile Image for Meg.
1,347 reviews14 followers
October 22, 2021
This book is fully geared towards women doing endurance sports. It's got some interesting stuff on how menstrual cycles + hormone stuff can affect the body and postmenopausal considerations. I was annoyed throughout after the weight training debacle, the fatphobic stuff, some boring gender generalizations, and why the heck was all the dairy products mentioned were specifically low-fat? I also wanted a clearer citation style, there are some resources listed for each chapter but in the text it was just "and this one study..."
Profile Image for Kim R.
191 reviews13 followers
January 1, 2021
It’s great that someone approached an optimum performance book for female bodies. I found the amount of material covered quite wide, and a bit much for one book. I think a reader would find this book a good tool, but not a stand-alone manual. The only part I could find “wrong” was that the author did not state the difference between synthetic hormone (which she lists the dangers of) and bio identical hormones (which do not have these side effects.)
34 reviews3 followers
May 25, 2021
One of those books I’m glad to have bought so I can reference it as I age and my body goes through those pesky and inevitable changes. Highly recommend this book for any female athletes ANY age. A ton of life/performance hacks with the science to back up the purpose for implementing.

Although Dr. Sims sometimes goes off on a triathlon weenie from time to Time, I can forgive because she always dials it back into the nuts and bolts of our (women) weird, finicky, hormonal bodies.
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