By Taylor Robbins, C.S.C.S
Ok, you are reading this thinking, “This is so unfair! Why is it so freakin’ hard for me to lose weight? Am I really doomed to fail?”
To you I say…NO!
We work with women online from all over the world, and I can tell you, weight loss is VERY achievable, and very sustainable, and it does not mean hours sweating over a treadmill or eating a chicken and a handful of spinach every meal, haha.
In fact, I am going to explain why your brain and your weight loss is a different process than your male counterparts, and how you can do it without restriction or slaving cardio.
What is the science of the female brain that makes it more difficult for you to lose weight?
First, we must discuss ghrelin.
Ghrelin is a hormone that the gastrointestinal tract produces to tell the receptors in the brain that you are hungry.
When the stomach is empty, or when the body is in need of additional energy, ghrelin is produced.
The opposing hormone of ghrelin is leptin. The fat cells produce leptin to tell the brain you are full.
Some research has caused some to believe that those who are more overweight and more fat produce more ghrelin and have less sensitivity to leptin. The correlating response causes an increase in food intake and decrease in energy expenditure, thus causing more weight gain.
An interesting find in a University of Aberdeen study showed that the female brain responds to these hunger and satiety hormones differently.
Certain brain hormones in the form of peptides POMC (pro-opiomelanocortin) help regulate appetite, energy expenditure, and body weight.
Some unfortunate findings from this study and some others suggest that these peptides in the female brain are not as sensitive as in the male brain.
In women, POMC should signal appetite and energy expenditure, but it does not affect energy expenditure as much as it does in men.
What the heck, right?
So am I saying that women are screwed for losing weight?
However, it means there needs to be more strategy to female weight loss.
I will discuss 3 strategies here.
1. Women must lift weights to increase the metabolic response for increased energy expenditure.
As we saw above, women need to have their metabolisms lifted via other means than just the natural response to food. One of the ways to do this is proper exercise selection.
Cardio does not cause as high of a metabolic response as weight lifting does. The reason is because there is not nearly as much muscular stress. Muscular stress and breakdown leads to a need for more nutrient intake (aka food).
Cardio releases more cortisol, a stress hormone which accumulates fat for combating inflammation. Opposingly, weight lifting releases growth hormone, testosterone, and IGF-1, all of which lead to fat loss and muscle gain.
So, sorry if you enjoy pilates and yoga, but if you are dissatisfied with your weight loss and body composition, it probably means you need to try a new approach, right?
2. Eat more slowly.
Leptin is the hormone that tells your body you are full so that you increase energy expenditure and decrease your food intake.
In order to have the full response of leptin, the receptor needs about 20 minutes to have full stimulation.
Ever wonder why you could eat more food if you ate really fast?
It’s because leptin does not get received or signaled in so little time.
Start to take one bite at a time, chew, and put the fork down. This will cause you to take more bites and thus more time to chew and eat.
By taking 20 minutes to eat your food, you will gain more sensitivity to leptin and see that you can eat less food with the same level of satiety.
3. Fasting can increase weight loss and leptin sensitivity.
Make sure you read this whole part. I don’t want you skipping meals and fasting for 3 days every week in hopes of dropping weight quickly.
First of all, fasting does some physiological things to aid fat loss:
Increases catecholamine production which attacks fat cells
Increases sensitivity to leptin for more fat loss
Forces fat to be used as a fuel source assuming adequate healthy fat intake
You see, fasting can help you overcome the unfair brain and hormone signaling women have for weight loss.
Now, how to implement.
We suggest starting with one fast every 2 weeks. You will not eat from 8pm to 12pm the next day. This is a 16 hour fast. If you can, try to engage in your workout right before breaking your fast at 12pm. You can drink all the water you want, and you can even add 15g of branched chain amino acids to help with satiety.
Once you can comfortably accomplish this every two weeks, try it once a week.
You have now seen how you are at a disadvantage for weight loss as a woman, but not without some strategies to overcome it.
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Also, be sure to look out for our upcoming webinars or even live seminars in your area, both of which are always FREE.
Taylor “I put jedi mind tricks on the female brain for fat loss” Robbins
- Cowley MA, Smart JL, Rubinstein M, Cerdán MG, Diano S, Horvath TL, Cone RD, Low MJ (May 2001). “Leptin activates anorexigenic POMC neurons through a neural network in the arcuate nucleus”. Nature 411 (6836): 480–4. doi:10.1038/35078085.PMID 11373681.