By Taylor Robbins, C.S.C.S
Fat Loss and weight loss in general is very difficult for women. You have more unstable hormones, periods, babies, and the list goes on.
Because female fat loss is more challenging, we want to simplify your life by composing these 5 “must know” tips for females to lose weight and keep it off forever.
1. Eat more protein
Women think protein is for bodybuilders and people with lots of muscle. I say it’s for women who want to shred fat.
Protein does help repair muscle damage and other cells like hair, skin, and nails. But, it does some other cool stuff too.
A. Protein releases the hormone glucagon which regulates its counter hormone, insulin. This is good because fat people release more insulin from being insulin resistant (eating too many carbs) and therefore need glucagon to help drop that down. Hormonally, this will increase fat loss and carb tolerance.
B. Protein has a higher thermic effect than carbs and fats. When we eat food, we burn calories just digesting it. Protein consumption allows us to burn twice the calories compared to fats and carbs.
C. Protein creates a positive nitrogen balance in us. Protein carries a nitrogen molecule, unlike carbs and fats. Having more nitrogen places the body in a positive nitrogen balance since we constantly secrete nitrogen from stress, working out, and fighting off disease. This enables more muscle to be built, and therefore a higher metabolic rate, and therefore burning more fat.
2. Lift weights- not like a “Pump Les Mills Class” but like a strength athlete
I want you to look at the image below. Now honestly, which body do you want for yourself?
You think lifting weights will make you bulky and not like a curvy beautiful woman and just doing sprints isn’t enough to burn fat. You also think running for an hour burns more calories and will work your legs really good without getting them chunky. Well, you are mistaken.
Our clients will attest to this, along with sprinters and strength athletes, that lifting weights and doing high intensity training creates the hormonal environment and stimulus to create tight and lean muscle while decreasing body fat.
Wouldn’t you rather do a 6-10 minute sprint workout, instead of a 45 minute run? And to add to that, look better?
Running does burn calories, but in order to progress the training stimulus on the body to continue to see the same amount of calories burned is difficult to near impossible. You would need to time your run speed, increase the time, watch how well you clear lactate and how fast you hit your lactic threshold, and progress your running duration.
Strength training and sprinting is more simple. Lift heavier weights, do more reps, decrease rest time, increase work time. There are more variables to control which enables the body to continue to see adaptation.
Not to mention, running moderately for long distances (more than 2 miles) increases cortisol production which accumulates fat. Weights and sprints release far less cortisol and increase the fat burning hormones like testosterone and growth hormone.
3. Train fasted
Did you know women are more efficient at burning fat during exercise than men?
Yep, women can mobilize fatty acids, triglycerides, and glucose-p from fat cells during exercise very well. However, when eating carbs or other nutrients before a workout, and those nutrients enter the blood (like glucose from carbs), the female body will use those energy substrates for the energy demand instead to tapping into fat cells.
Train in a fasted state before a workout. This will ensure you have no glucose or other substrates in the blood to use and your body will tap into fat cells like it wants to. Eat your last meal at least 4 hours before exercise. If you do morning workouts, it works out nicely. If you do an evening workout, eat a later lunch and then don’t eat until after the workout.
4. Strategically drop calories
Crash diets do work…temporarily.
When dropping calories, or metabolism drops as well. This is a natural occurence. Lowering your calories secretes less T3 hormone from the thyroid gland (the metabolic regulator) thus decreasing our overall metabolism.
You can imagine, deciding to eat 500 calories a day for the next three weeks will destroy your metabolic rate and once you eat like a normal person again, you will gain weight back even quicker than before and usually more weight than you orginally started with. This is called metabolic damage.
A more safe and effective way to decrease calories in women is through a 10% deficit. This means, if you burn 2000 calories in a day, drop your intake to 1800. After some weight loss over the next week or two, recalculate and drop by 10% again. Doing this enables the metabolism to stay more in line with the caloric deficit thus side-stepping potential metabolic damage.
5. Eat carbs “deservingly”
Why is it that all women say, “I want to lose some weight, I’ll just cut out all carbs, that will do it”?
Your body needs carbs. Carbs secrete insulin which helps drop blood sugar levels and causes satiety. Additionally, carbs feed the brain. Research shows that for optimal brain function, you need anywhere from 60g-125g of carbs a day.
Now, eating too many carbs is bad too because it means large insulin secretions all the time causing insulin resistance. This is where the cells in our body don’t respond to the insulin to mobilize glucose like it should. Instead, that glucose has to go to fat cells for storage.
So, you need to eat carbs, just the right amount and when you deserve it.
You need more carbs and faster carbs (things like sprouted bread, white rice, and fruits) post-workout. Your body is in a state of stress and you have depleted 70% of your glycogen stores (stored form of carbs), so you need to fulfill those physiological tasks with some carbs right away.
When you first wake up, your blood sugar is low. Glucagon helps increase blood sugar, so instead of heavy carbs like cereal and bagels in the morning, have some red meat and nuts.
Vegetables and beans and legumes are carbs, technically, but those carbs are VERY low and they carry fiber as well, which don’t metabolize in the body, so they don’t add any calories. These should be eaten at times of rest and normal living conditions.
Watch your carbs, if you’re eating more than 100g a day, you may be too high, less than 50g a day, too low. Time your carbs with fruits and fast carbs post workout and in larger amounts while having veggies and beans and legumes all other times in high amounts.