Igor Klibanov
3 min readMar 23, 2021

I recently bought Lyle McDonald’s monumental book, called simply and aptly The Women’s Book (although the full title is The Women’s Book: A Guide to Nutrition, Fat Loss, and Muscle Gain), and it’s the single most comprehensive book I’ve ever read on the topic of nutrition for women (and as I outline in my article, on professional development, I’ve read a lot of books — about 70–80 per year).

And although I have 28 pages of notes that I took from that book, in this article, I’ll summarize the most interesting and actionable points.

Ready? Let’s go!

  • If the index finger is shorter than the ring finger, the person was exposed to more testosterone prenatally. If it’s the opposite, the person was exposed to more estrogen.
  • The magnitude of the effect of a hormone depends on 3 factors:
  • The amount of the hormone itself. The more the hormone is present, the greater its effect
  • Hormone affinity: how well a hormone “fits” into its receptor. The tighter the fit, the greater the effect
  • Receptor sensitivity: how sensitive a receptor is to the hormone
  • Estrogen improves insulin sensitivity, so during the estrogen-dominant part of the cycle, women can have more carbs. Aren’t you glad you’re reading this article?
  • Progesterone increases metabolism by 100–300 calories per day, but with it, also cravings
  • Functional Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (FHA) occurs due to stress (dieting, exercise, or mental/emotional). Amenorrhea is when the woman loses her period.
  • In FHA, estrogen drops to 33% of normal, and progesterone to 10% of normal.
  • Most birth control doesn’t cause major weight gain. Most of them cause a 3–4 pound gain over a year. One type actually causes very slight fat loss. The exception is Depo-Provera. One study found a gain of 11 pounds over 3 years
  • A smaller body burns fewer calories, because metabolism is lower and the amount of calories burned during exercise is lower. However, metabolism during dieting tends to slow down more than would be predicted based on body weight alone. This is called “adaptive thermogenesis” (AT). In other words, based on bodyweight, daily caloric expenditure would be predicted to have dropped by 100 calories, but in reality, it might have dropped by 150 calories.



Igor Klibanov

Igor Klibanov is the author 7 books on exercise and nutrition, including 2 bestsellers. Read more of his articles at