The Women’s Book Vol 1
Since the beginning of medical history, women’s unique physiology and needs have gone almost ignored as women were treated as “little men”. It’s only recently that research has begun to examine the differences although more is appearing almost daily on the topic.
The first in the realm of sports nutrition wasn’t done until the 1970’s and even today women are studied perhaps 20-30% as frequently as men. Even when examining that limited data, differences have been found in almost every physiological system yet examined.
A partial list would include differences in a woman’s nutritional requirements along with how her body uses nutrients after a meal or during exercise. Women both store and lose fat in a different pattern distinct from men. There are differences in the stress response, how her body adapts to dieting and weight loss. Women even differ from men in how they metabolize caffeine.
In some cases, those differences may be fairly subtle. In others they are quite extreme. And yet even in 2019 they often go completely ignored.
In the realm of dieting, fat loss and muscle gain, approaches developed by male coaches for male athletes are often either ineffective or, in some cases, outright damaging. Certainly there are commonalities that always apply but a woman’s unique physiology must be taken into account for optimal results.
Women also face issues such as menstrual cycle and hormonal dysfunction or bone loss that men simply never face. There is also the vast amount of misinformation about how women should eat or exercise. Nutritionally deficient diets are often coupled with ineffective exercise programs and endless numbers of women don’t get the results that they should or could with a better approach.
Arguably the primary consideration for women is the menstrual cycle, the roughly 28 day cycle where her hormones vary drastically from week to week, altering her physiology along with it.
To that there is the frequent presence of what I call hormonal modifiers, situations that alter a woman’s physiology in some way. Examples include hormonal birth control, Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome, sub-clinical hyperandrogenism (elevated testosterone levels) and menstrual cycle dysfunction including amenorrhea. The age-related hormonal changes that occur during peri-menopause and menopause add a further layer of complexity.
The Women’s Book Vol 1: A Guide to Nutrition, Fat Loss and Muscle Gain sets out to address the above issues and more. In it, I look at the specifics of a woman’s physiology, not only how it differs significantly from a man’s, but how it’s unique characteristics affect how an optimal nutrition, fat loss diet or muscle gain approach should be set up. At over 400 pages virtually no topic goes undiscussed and the book represents a complete resource for women’s unique needs.
While much of the information is related to exercise or training, this is not just a book for the lean female athlete or dieter. I have striven to make it not only as comprehensive as possible by discussing not only the hormonal modifiers listed above but attempting to include a variety of distinct training goals such as general health and fitness (including bone health), the serious trainee, and physique competition along with strength/power, endurance and other performance sports.
Hence the title: The Women’s Book.
Disclaimer: The book does not discuss nutritional needs for pregnancy or breast feeding, Eating Disorder recovery or medical conditions as these should be addressed with a medical professional.
10% from every purchase from will be donated to The Women’s Sports Foundation. This is a 501c3 charity founded by Billie Jean King and dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring all girls access to sports.
Anastasia Antipova –
This book is truly one of a kind. The amount of information is almost too hard to digest, but take your time reading and understanding it – it will be totally worth it! I’ve already conquered one of my biggest issues – monthly pre-menstrual bloat and water retention. I am a lean athletic female but for about a week out of any given month I wasn’t able to look at myself in the mirror – I looked 5 months pregnant, not less! Scale weight would sky rocket up as well. Not anymore! With a few tweaks to my macros from this book I literally have ZERO bloat now, I don’t even know how it’s possible, but I’ll sure take it!
Now I just need to accumulate some patience till vol. 2 comes out 🙂
There is nothing like this on the market, Lyle’s attention to detail regarding women’s physiology and the amount of time spent on the menstrual cycle, and birth control methods makes this book a must read for any woman looking to make more informed decisions for themselves.
If you’re a male coach I suggest you pick this book up in order to benefit your female clientele.
Lyle’s suggestions regarding macros during different fazes of the menstrual cycle has helped me immensely . I would normally retain between 6-8lbs of extra water during the end of my cycle causing incredible discomfort and losing the ability to even train in the gym. I’ve also started programing my training around ovulation, and have notice a significant difference in my ability to hit PR’s or perform my best in the gym depending on where I’m at in my cycle.
This book also breaks down hormonal B.C and hormonal replacement therapy for menopausal women, in great detail allowing women to make a real informed decision in regards to this topic , which family doctors fail to do; they just hand you a prescription and send you one your way…
Katy Cousins –
I have been recommending this book to all my female friends and boring the tail off people at social events with all the amazing things I’ve learned from it. As a small, ‘category 1’ ‘serious trainee’, I am so relieved to have so many of the things I intuitively knew or had learned over time, backed up by the evidence and analysis here. Things like, no I can’t just go keto and not count calories and still lose weight the way a large, overweight man might be able to. And like, it’s ok to be hungry on a diet, that’s one of the ways you know it’s working!
Honestly, Lyle, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time and incredible effort to write this book. It’s been genuinely life changing. Every woman should read it.
There is nothing on the market, in a bookstore, or online that considers and combines diet, nutrition, hormone levels, performance, health, even psychological/mental stressors of dieting. Not only does Lyle present all the information, he guides you on how to make it work for you. I played soccer in college, became a serious runner in my late 20’s and now am getting into body building. I am also simply a female who cares about her health and appearance. Yes, I want to “look good” but I don’t want to do it at the sacrifice of my menstural cycle, my hormones, my daily life, and my gym performance. Yes, I want to perform well in the gym/at sports, but I don’t want to gain excessive weight or restrict what I eat to compulsion. Yes, I care about my bone density and keeping my hormones in check as much as I care about losing fat. There in an abundance of information on the internet these days on how to achieve optimal performance, lose the most weight, etc and most of it conflicts with each other. There’s also too many “coaches” who don’t really don’t understand what they are promoting and how individuals (and females) are all different. This book is great and I highly recommend it to any female trying to improve performance and lose fat. I’ve caught several errors and editing mistakes in the book, but don’t let that detract from excellent information presented. This is a must read.
So much great information in this book. After reading, I modified my training schedule and tweaked my nutrition based on Lyle’s recommendations. I’ve made significant progress over the last 14 weeks and am incredibly pleased with my most recent DEXA #s. Looking forward to Volume 2.
I’ve personally used this book as a major resource to inform my dissertation, with the 300+ references, it helped fantastically. Have shared the content with my girlfriend and others who have been implementing the advice given with great success. Highly recommend!
Hands down, this is THE BEST book out there covering female hormones, macros, diet strategies, WOE, training recommendations….just too much to name. Being 49 (two children ages 9 and 6 born awesomely healthy) and having my OBGYN start discussing hormones, age, body changes, loss of muscle, loss of sex drive really propelled me to research and learn as much as possible before considering HRT and alike. Finally, Lyle’s book put it all together and made it too simple for me to understand the female body, what I am going through, my choices, how to finally get my body to propel forward (I’m lean, always trained, but fell into a brief ED after PTSD, and set my body composition back) to once again reach my goals. I originally bought the PDF/kindle, but this book is too good not to own the hardcopy. So I just ordered that as well! Serious, do yourself a favor and buy this book, or ask your significant other buy it for you!! Thank you Lyle for all of your awesome books, time and dedication to the fitness industry and science! And I cannot wait until Vol 2 is released.
I am not sure how I feel about this book. It is a book that you have to read slowly to understand all the information. I ordered the pdf, and for 50.00 there are a lot of grammatical errors…I don’t think it was proofread.
I proofread the manuscript multiple times but it is a very long book and many still slipped through.
Lisa W –
Recognizing Lyle’s broad knowledge base as well as his depth of evidence based responses for pretty much every question asked, I knew I would not be disappointed reading The Women’s Book. Having been a fitness trainer for over 25 years, CrossFit owner and co-authoring my own women’s issues book, I “felt” pretty confident about my knowledge in the area of hormones, training and eating. However, I had NO IDEA how much didn’t know (and how much more I was interested in) until I read this book. The Women’s Book is quite lengthy and engaging for sure. I particularly appreciated how the author was able to summarize hundreds of scientific journal articles in a clear and concise way. Lyle seems to be a selfless human and passionate for improving women’s health and overall wellness.
Lillian Shaked –
This is a must buy and read for all women wanting to understand how their bodies work and how to optimize them from a nutrition and dieting standpoint. Although a bit technical at times and printed in very small print (my new need for reading glasses is likely due in part to my intense reading), it is very interesting and can and should be read over and over again.
An insane wealth of knowledge. I feel like I have spent my whole life muddling through nutrition, diet and exercise. Lyle McDonald has changed my life truly. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
This is truly an amazing book that every woman should own.
I highly recommend this to all my friends. It is well worth the price.
The one downside (which I see has already been mentioned) is that the typos made it difficult to read in some places…..outside editing would be a great addition so that it is letter perfect.
This book goes into great detail and I have learned a lot!! My only wish was that it was a little easier to break down into practical steps. Kinda like a for dummies section at the end of each chapter or something ha ha
Def worth the read!
Fing God who in double H hockey sticks knew a man could write such a comprehensive book on women?!? Mr. Mc Donald has changed my diet and nutrition around training, age and those nasty hormones that throw everything out of whack.
I recommend this novel, with 50 pages of references alone, to anyone female or has a female in their life. I guess everyone. This is not the regular run of the mill booty band trainer talking about fluff it goes into the whys, and then the how’s of all things women and female training. Get this book and put away your latest copy of Ms Muscle, it’s all you will ever need. Thanks again for this gem.
Summer Williams –
I highly recommend The Women’s Book!! I have learned so much from it. I have had to read some parts more than once to process the information, because I don’t understand everything written. Maybe I’m slow lol, but I love learning. Thank you, Lyle, for taking the time to produce this book!
Broderick Chavez –
The “unofficial owners manual” for the female form! Truly the best text on the topic I am aware of!
I’m still making my way through this behemoth but I’ve learned so much right from the 1st page. The odd grammar or spelling error are a little annoying but not enough to stop me from pursuing my reading
I especially love that 10% of every purchase will be donated to The Women’s Sports Foundation. This is a must have for any woman or coach of females to better understand the unique needs of the dieting female.
Scott Habermehl –
The ultimate source for female’s. I regularly consult the information found in this book when working with female clients of all ages. In my opinion, it’s a must have.
This book is the Bible for Women’s nutrition and training. Goes through everything and you do not really need any previous knowledge on physiology, nutrition or training to read this book. Everything is explained in such detail that I am amazed. If you are a woman interested to lose a few kilos or you are an athlete that competes in bodybuilding or you are a coach that would like to know more on how would be the best way to train and give nutritional advice to women, this is the book for you! After reading it I have actually realised how women are so much more complex than man.
Did I read the same book? I made it though my entire Kindle purchase and did not get any nutritional advice or anything more than vague advice to lift a little while dieting. Unless you count ‘get enough protein’. I read Lyle’s ketogenic diet book and cannot say enough great things. Pure information. Raw data. Physiological and hormonal chain and step reactions. This book in contrast was old dusty intel, so flipping repetitive I wanted to punch Lyle. Repeatedly(see what I did there? Til for tat, for the torture I endured) . It was like the last seasons of game of thrones where you don’t skip any, because you’re afraid if there IS a good part you’ll miss it; but it never gets to a good part.
This book discussed 1. A woman’s cycle in phase hormonal detail. 2. How women are not like men – over and over and over with math examples to support it. DUDE – we KNOW. We knew that well before you did. JESUS, YOU THINK ITS NEWS TO US WE CANT EAT AS MUCH AS boys? Hit that protein minimum but also fat and xxxii grams of fiber minimum and some carbs esp if you work out, cause that’s the mix boys use, but hey girls, actually, guess what? that won’t work for you because you don’t have that many calories to play with. We know, that’s why we picked up this book, searching for answers. Nothing on what to do differently. Just calculate that calorie deficit, and then you’re on your own for macros and so on. 3. How pissed off and put out Lyle is at how much time it took him to research this because women are complicated. So many times. So. Many. Times. holy shit. Haha welcome to planet earth, Lyle. Meet women. 4. pcos 5. Pcos again. Pretty much each chapter was 1/3 Pcos. 6. How he won’t discuss pregnancy. 7. Get on hormone replacement therapy. In conclusion, 1. one size does not fit all, you won’t train the same or crave the same foods PMS as menstrual as pre-ovulation or the same as other women because hormones DUUUUHHH thanks for writing a book on what we learned when we were 12 and what the whole planet knows, we needed you to mansplain it for 50 bucks. And give approval that what we have always known, exists. Lawd. 2. Weight loss via Low to Moderate calorie deficit or it’s not sustainable long term (srsly if there were a drinking game for everytime Lyle said amenorrhea, I’d have been dead ch. 1). There are some other basics about NEAT AND TDEE and other fun trivia that you’ve probably already googled or read on FB or blogs or heard James Smith or that douche Thomas DeLauer say (for free) . No new information, no new answers, no revelations, and a lot of pussyfooting about when he seemed to get close to making a suggestion – like he was afraid the Vegos would come after him if he promoted animal protein, so he danced around it after, leaving the reader wondering at the recommended path… But on almost everything.
The book needed an editor and proofreader, and the old Asshole Lyle that would say what he thought, and should have been titled “my unorganized paranoid repetitive journey-notes of trying to understand the cyclical hormone component of female physiology that no woman will need to read because it is little more than tedious google research to prove to one man what all women already intrinsically know”
It is NO guide. It does have some info and trivia in it, the info isnt wrong, yet from a guy whose life and career and in particular the last several years have been spent trying to decode women’s nutrition fat loss and muscle gain, I expected more than ‘women are different so everything we thought we knew doesn’t apply, and boy what a pain in the ass it has been trying to explain why. Amenorrhea. “
The book was meant to cover nutrition primarily. Training is Volume 2 so I wasn’t able to get into detail with it. Otherwise the book would have been 600+ pages.
Based on comments from women, clearly they do NOT all understand women’s physiology or the hormonal changes which occur during their menstrual cycle. I’m glad you’re so much better informed but most clearly are not.
Nothing but trivia? I examined every aspect of women’s physiology that exists. I laid out how to optimize every aspect of nutrition, diet and supplements for every goal under the sun. I covered birth control, PCOS and menopause in terms of the changes that occur.
If all you got from this is ‘weight train on a diet’, I don’t think you read the right book. Or you skimmed every other word. Or didn’t get past Chapter 3. Genuinely.
“my unorganized paranoid repetitive journey-notes of trying to understand the cyclical hormone component of female physiology that no woman will need to read because it is little more than tedious google research to prove to one man what all women already intrinsically know”
Hahahaha. All women clearly do not intrinsically know this and I can’t count the number who told me that they learned things that they were never taught about their own physiology. I’m glad you do. You represent a paragon of humanity. And I wasn’t aware that 600+ references counted as ‘Google research’
Paranoid? WTF are you talking about? How does writing a comprehensive tome about a topic mean I’m paranoid?
And your last sentence. Umm, where in the book do I say anything about ‘what a pain it is to explain amenorrhea’ Seriously. Your beef is clearly with me (which is fine) and has nothing to do with the book because anybody who actually read it knows that you’re spouting gibberish the entire way through your ‘review’.
Since I’m intellectually honest I’ll still approve this review. But I think most will think you’re just someone with a personal beef with me even if I don’t know who you are. The fact that you used the phrase Asshole Lyle tells me you’re probably someone online I took to task. I could be wrong. That your email address or name doesn’t pull up a book order for The Women’s Book is even more unusual.
In fact, based on your asinine comments, I wonder if you perhaps purchased some of the segmented sections I had on Amazon. I didn’t get them all up before deciding to pull them and down and it ‘feels’ like you only got part of the information. Because if you read the entire big book, you sure seem to have ignored about 50% of what was is in.
No matter, I printed your review, you’ll likely never see these comments. And anybody who has or does read it will most likely realize that you’re out of your mind.
I just wanted to add that after leaving her review, Sara came back to purchase another book from me. I guess I’m only Asshole Lyle when she doesn’t need something. As I don’t want hypocrite money, I refunded the order.
This is one of the rare nutrition books I invested in and it was absolutely worth it. The concepts are explained so easy, and it gradually builds up on the base knowledge it teaches you from the beginning so you don’t feel overwhelmed at any point. His understanding of female biology & nutrition is incredible, I continue to reference this book since buying it because it’s such a wealth of information!
Shelly S –
Massive. Overwhelming. So stuffed with information. I started making notes to myself when I started reading it and gave up after the first 50 pages. Too many notes. May as well just read it again. And a person should and could. Read it over and over and over. It’s not a gripping story you can’t put down till you get to the end, though. Sorry Lyle. But you do what you have to do to get the information you need to have. I’m still on my first time through even after owning it for over a year. Though I have skipped around a little. Thanks for all the work you did to help women understand how hormones affect dieting. And training a little too. I really appreciate understanding better why I want to eat the world a certain time of the month, at the very least.
Solid book with tons of great info. Bought it so I could do a better job my setting up a plan for my wife.
I just started to read this and I am excited! I’ve been following Lyle for years. I started dieting 5 months ago (CAT 1) and although I’ve made progress I was stuck -no matter how hard I was training and dieting.
During my period, It would be nothing short of a bloat fest so I am looking forward to learning more what I can do during this time.
So far, this book is very detailed and helpful.
My only regret is I wished I bought the physical version -which I will probably breakdown and get it because I like to take notes and highlight.
Do yourself a favor and get the physical copy -you will thank me later.
I would also add as a supplement to watch any interview Lyle has done on YouTube. I started to binge watch so when reading this book I was able to assimilate the information. I am not a newbie to this information but I needed to unlearn what I’ve learned ( in my best Yoda voice😂) in the fitness industry.
Thanks Lyle for your dedication to women’s fitness.
I am so shocked that the best book on fat loss for women is written by a man!
Pretty much strange, but it is really often the case that women just don’t care about their cycle and hormone levels and just say – hey, everything is just easier for men because they are men. Well, yeah, but why exactly? This book gives answers for questions you didn’t know how to ask! It shows how different women can be even if it is actually the same women going through different menstrual cycles.
A lot of other factors are mentioned here including the psychological ones. I really enjoyed the book and looking forward to purchase the second volume!
Jodie Crook –
Awesome book! I’ve just skim read and will now go back in more detail. I discovered Lyle from a podcast he did with a Jeff Nippard. He was the first professional I’d heard discuss PCOS and strength training. There is a huge lack of data and around PCOS in general, let alone in the bodybuilding arena and so I was excited to learn more about what he said and if it correlated with my own experience.
I wasn’t going to spend the high price on the book initially as I couldn’t see any dedicated chapters to PCOS, however I read all the reviews and think Lyle made the right decision to publish the negative one as this was the only place I could see that the book potentially covered PCOS more extensively 🙂
I was not disappointed as a 39 year female about to body building competition prep for the second time I found much of what Lyle says to be very accurate. I found that HITT has never worked for me (despite trying different variations for 16 week periods) where as LISS (in particular the stair master- I’ve run a marathon and not lost a lb and I think this is due to adaption of some kind which doesn’t seem to happen with the stair master, so I think the type of LISS think is important ). I tried all of the suggested supplements with my last prep and stopped most as felt nil affects ( the trouble with most scientific studies is that they are done on single therapy eg ALA and weight/fat loss, rather than a combinational therapy eg. ALA, CLA and weight/fat loss or ALA, CLA, and caffeine on weight/fat loss. Which means in each individual there is such variable responses (I appreciate this has the opposite affect when doing more than one supplement you don’t know if it’s one or a combination that works) there’s even less of these done on women with PCOS.
The biggest game changer for me has been metformin. I tolerate more carbs than ever before which is amazing considering how low my calories were in my prep phase last time. I would love to see some more discussion around this in volume 2 🙂
Refeeds are brilliant and I did these every third day and worked phenomenally well. I have always had regular periods and didn’t lose them even when I got to very low body fat percentages and I think it is due to this.
Lyles fat loss protocol 1 is a PCOS lady’s best friend. As is this book!
Thanks for the great book Lyle. I look forward to volume 2.
The best and most complete book about women stuff. Worth read it also if you are not dieting, it is so full of useful information!
Samuel Marquez –
My soft book never arrived, only the ebook version. I have to say that is a great book. But I’m still missing my soft book!!
susan jacups –
It’s an amazing thesis, but a thesis is what it is. It isnt a easy to access information BOOK, but rather a thesis. It would benefit from a significant edit. There are Too Many Acronyms (TMA) and too many times Lyle goes off on a tangent (for a paragraph or 2), only to return and say “as this is not the topic of this book I will not go into further detail, I only included this for the sake of completion”… Please Lyle, dont be complete, be succinct instead. Be kind to your readers and dont make them read so many extra paragraphs that lead them down a garden path that has TMA and then stops abruptly. And did I say anywhere that there are TMA? There are so many TMA, that I saw one I didnt recognise on poly cystic ovaries, and it was mentioned 8 pages earlier. As this is a book, and not a peer reviewed journal article, there are no word limits and not necessity to abbreviate everything. Please just spell out the full word and make it easier on your readers. There are just TMA.
If this book had a good edit, it could be reduced by about 1/3 and be 100% better and easier to read… Please consider doing this, as it contains soo much excellent information, only it is filled with TMA and too much digression….
The most complete book about women dieting and hormones. Waiting for Volume 2!