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The menopause training tips that really work

Diet culture and body image pressure have forced many women to follow a mantra of “move more, eat less”. But this advice often has the opposite effect to improving long-term health, fitness and happiness, especially amongst older women and those going through the menopause, by encouraging over-training and under-eating, resulting in lost muscle, weaker bones and a host of other serious problems. Leading exercise physiology and sports nutrition expert Dr Abbie Smith-Ryan has a better fitness philosophy to help women of all ages take back control of their health and wellbeing
Dr Abbie Smith-Ryan, PhD
Dr Abbie Smith-Ryan, PhD

Dr Abbie Smith-Ryan is an expert in exercise physiology and sports nutrition. She serves as the associate chair for research for the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, the director of the Applied Physiology Laboratory, and co-director of the Human Performance Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She is a lifelong advocate for empowering women and people through evidence-based knowledge. Follow her on Instagram. Visit asmithryan.com.

Dr Abbie Smith-Ryan: Menopause training advice that works

For far too long the main health and fitness message directly at women of all ages – especially menopause training advice – was along the lines of “move more, eat less”, thanks in no small part to the toxic diet culture and body image pressure heaped upon women for generations.

Yet a far better mantra, and one infinitely more useful to improving the health, fitness and wellbeing for women of all ages, is “lift weights and eat more”.

Because for decades women have been told to do hours of endless and monotonous cardio on tiny amounts of food, while all the while a far healthier approach is to exercise to build muscle and bone strength, increase lean muscle mass and improve metabolic health through lifting heavy weights, eating more nutrient-dense protein, and taking science-backed supplements, such as creatine, to improve training performance.

This is the view of Dr Abbie Smith-Ryan, PhD, a renowned researcher in exercise physiology and sports nutrition, and leading expert in women’s health, fitness and nutrition.

In an interview packed with invaluable insights on multiple aspects of optimising health and performance, aimed at women of all ages, Dr Smith-Ryan is keen to stress just how crucial a role all forms of strength training can play in helping women combat the natural decline of lean muscle mass as they age to stay looking and feeling younger, fitter and healthier for longer.

Menopause training and nutrition advice

With resistance training proven to promote stronger bones, improve joint health, and enhance overall strength, it’s particularly important for women approaching or experiencing menopause to combat osteoporosis and muscle loss associated with hormonal changes.

And with many women underestimating their protein needs, Dr Smith-Ryan also highlights the importance of adequate protein intake, particularly for ageing women, for muscle repair and growth, and as we age, our bodies require more to maintain muscle mass and function.

She discusses the benefits of creatine supplementation, traditionally associated with male bodybuilders and other strength athletes, but now recognised for its wide-ranging benefits for women, including enhancing muscle strength, improving exercise performance, supporting cognitive health and function, making it an invaluable sports nutrition supplement for women wanting to maintain both physical and mental sharpness.

Whether you’re a long-term fitness enthusiast, looking to start living a healthier lifestyle or in desperate need of menopausal lifestyle advice, Dr Smith-Ryan provides clear, actionable and effective steps for incorporating resistance training, optimising protein intake, and considering creatine supplementation to enhance overall health, fitness and wellbeing.

Listen to the Unfiltered Extra podcast episode with Dr Abbie Smith-Ryan on Spotify

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