Nutrition, Training, and Sleep for Menopausal Mountain Athletes - Roar Chapter 3

100 year athlete roar Jan 18, 2024

100 Year Athlete Book Club: ROAR, Chapter 3: Training Through Menopause

At Off The Mountain, we’re fortunate to coach women in their 50s, 60s and 70s who kick ass outdoors and in the gym. What we don’t discuss enough with these athletes is the impact of menopause on their health and fitness. To create 100 Year Athletes, we have to take on this sensitive topic, and we’re doing it with help from an expert: Dr. Stacy Sims, author of ROAR: Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong Body for Life.  

Below are Ben and Alex’s top five takeaways from ROAR Chapter 3: Training Through Menopause. For the full discussion, tune into the latest 100 Year Athlete podcast on our website or your favorite podcast platform.    

1. Eat Low-Glycemic Carbs  

Because of the hormonal changes that occur during menopause, athletes find it harder to gain lean mass and lose body fat. However, avoiding carbs is not a solution — you need them to train well and feel your best. 

To shed or maintain body fat, eat low-glycemic carbs. There are two ways to identify them:

  • Glycemic Index (GI) measures how quickly a food makes your blood sugar rise on a scale from 0 to 100, with 100 being pure sugar. Foods under 55 are considered low-GI.
  • Glycemic Load (GL) measures how much glucose per serving a food actually delivers into the bloodstream. Foods under 10 are considered low-GL.

Carbs that are high-GI and high-GL include white bread, pasta, and white rice. They tend to encourage fat storage. Low-GI, low-GL carbs tend to be fruits, vegetables, and unrefined grains. For a good overview of GI and GL load for common foods, check out this chart.

2. Avoid Fructose

During and after menopause, the body is less able to digest fructose, the sugar found in fruit, fruit juice, honey, and, unsurprisingly, high-fructose corn syrup. To digest it, the body will pool more water in the stomach, leading to gastrointestinal discomfort. Because the body diverts extra water to the gut, it has less water available while training or charging outdoors. 

The solution: while training, eat or drink carbs that contain glucose instead of fructose. Especially if you’re into endurance sports, the switch from fructose to glucose can make a big difference for your performance and overall enjoyment. Try out fructose-free Tailwind Endurance Fuel (one OTM mountain biker swears by it). 

3. Time Your Protein Intake

Postmenopausal athletes find it relatively harder to recover from training. Their bodies become more efficient at breaking down protein and less efficient at synthesizing it into tissues like muscle. Here’s the thing: if you don’t consume enough protein to fuel your training, your body will divert whatever is available from your musculoskeletal system to your internal organs. That means a lot of your hard work will be wasted. Dr. Sims has several recommendations for athletes:

  • Take 15 grams of protein within an hour before training and 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes after training. Just try it! (Don’t worry, OTM coaches will continue reminding you). 
  • Get 2.5-3 grams of leucine into your body daily. Leucine is a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) found in meat, so if you eat a meat-rich diet, you probably don’t need to supplement it. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, use a leucine or general BCAA supplement.
  • Take in protein and fat, not just carbs, in your endurance foods. Adding some nuts and beef jerky to your race menu can do the trick.     

4. Stay Cool

Menopausal women operate at a higher core temperature, which can affect sleep quality and performance in mountain sports. In fact, you will sweat less and feel less thirst despite needing more hydration than reproductively active women. So, a few recommendations from Dr. Sims: 


  • Keep your bedroom cold – 65° F or lower.
  • Drink cold liquids to lower your core body temperature before bed.
  • If sleep remains difficult, use melatonin or tart cherry juice (it contains melatonin and tryptophan) along with valerian root.  
  • Try black cohosh tea to mitigate hot flashes.
  • Eat at least 2-3 hours before sleeping.


  • Hydrate before and during workouts with cool liquids. Water alone does not hydrate you. Use a hydration supplement like Nuun or add 1/16 teaspoon of salt per 20 oz. of water.
  • Supplement beta alanine to enhance blood circulation during exercise. Aim for 4.2 grams per day. 

5. Focus More on Power Training

Following menopause, women are less able to generate power—a high level of force in a short period of time. An uphill sprint on your bike, for example, may feel relatively more difficult. To gain or at least maintain power, train it by moving explosively. For example:

  • Interval train on a stationary (or actual) bike. 
  • Do box jumps or bounding (basically, intense skipping).
  • Try medicine ball throws – 3-5 reps as hard as possible, 5-6 sets, with 45 seconds of rest between sides. 

Bottom Line: Our culture needs to stop vilifying menopause and start using science to help postmenopausal athletes thrive into their golden years. Experiment with these ideas from ROAR and talk to an OTM coach if you have questions!