Q&A with Dr. A’nna Roby
Does estrogen play a role in recovery?
Estrogen provides benefits during a workout that can help with recovery. For example, it prevents inflammation and limits free radical damage. This is helpful because less damage means quicker recovery from workouts. Furthermore, estrogen limits muscle damage itself, which reduces soreness. In terms of recovery itself, estrogen helps rebuild and remodel skeletal muscle.
Why do I feel warmer, hungrier, and sweat more at certain times of the month?
During the 2nd half of the cycle, your metabolic rate increases causing you to feel warmer, sweat more, and your body to crave more food.
What can you do? Increase your fat intake during this time!
Which type of training should I do across my menstrual cycle?
Work with your physiology, not against it. Current research supports that during the first half of the cycle you may benefit from more strength training and during the 2nd half of the cycle focus more on endurance. Keep in mind that training is highly individualized, and this finding may not apply to all athletes. More research is needed in this field and we will make sure to stay on top of it and post updates as the science emerges.
Do IUDs impact my hormones?
IUDs have become more common in the past decade as new options have emerged. The copper IUD is not hormonal, and thus, you can measure hormone levels because they are unaltered by the IUD. Hormonal IUDs such as Merina, do alter hormone levels and suppress ovulation for ~12-18 months after its implanted. After 12-18 months, you can start tracking hormone levels.
I stopped having a period; should I be concerned?
Yes. Missing your period is not a badge of honor. Your hormones might be suppressed. Particularly LH and FSH may not surge if you are overtraining or undernourished. You should always check with your doctor to eliminate any medical issues as the cause. There are some good resources for athletes, including the book “No Period. Now what?” By Dr. Nicola Rinaldi and “Roar” by Stacey Simms. If you want to take a deeper dive then check out my e-course Fueling Fierce!
I lost my period but got it back after a prolonged period of rest. How long until I can get back to full beast mode in training?
Congrats on getting your period back, that’s a big accomplishment! No seriously, it takes a lot of dedication, patience, and persistence through things that can be mentally and physically challenging. It’s recommended that you have at least 3 healthy periods before increasing training. Once you’ve had 3 healthy periods, you can slowly increase training. Jumping into high-intensity or high-volume training will likely cause your period to go AWOL again.
The top three foods to support a healthy/regular cycle…
Protein. Fat. Carbohydrate.
There’s no magical superfood. The primary issue is women not eating enough to support training on top of basic cell functions required by the body.
My one key takeaway and an interesting tidbit!
Fuel your potential. Women are constantly told to shrink themselves, lose weight, etc. but I want to create a culture where women are admired for what they do. You can’t achieve your best if you aren’t well-nourished. I want them to see food as a tool that can help them, not something to be restricted or feared. Women shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed about their menstrual cycle.
It takes 30,000 extra calories per year to have a healthy menstrual cycle. It takes a lot of energy to be healthy. Women who lose their menstrual cycle get slower, their performance declines. You can argue it’s an advantage.
Dr. A’nna strives to inspire people to optimally fuel their bodies to achieve their best. She hopes to have a positive impact on the world. The only combined Ph.D./RD specializing in sports performance nutrition in the world with all Ivy League degrees and the Chief Research Officer at AthleteBloodTest.
Dr. A’nna aims to cultivate a world of healthy athletes who understand nutrition and know how to leverage their physiology to get the best results in sports and life. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Instagram @drannaroby.