Overall when it comes to successful fat loss, the general guidelines to follow are the same for both men and women – proper exercise with a combination of weights and cardio, reduce processed food consumption, drink more water, eat loads of quality veggies etc…..but there are a few genetic differences (other than the obvious!) that are good to be aware of as this can really help women have more success. This is the sort of advice we offer through our local fitter body bootcamp in Northampton.
The aim of this article is to give you five means of helping you know and understand what to do about getting the most out of your training to ensure you achieve what you want::
At rest women burn more carbohydrates, and less fat than men.
Women also tend to store greater fat after eating, which does contribute to the greater body fat percentage. Consequently, it is essential for women not to add to this added storage capability, and so need to be extra attentive in terms of what they eat to support themselves whilst trying to become lean.
What to do about it: It is crucial that refined carbohydrates (e.g. pasta, bread, sugar, white rice) are minimised, so not to result in insulin spikes of which lead to significant fat storage.
Also making your metabolism flexible is important to help your body learn to burn fat as a fuel. This can be done by limiting intake of these refined carbohydrates and eating a greater amount of healthy fat (i.e. nuts, olives, oily fish). This nutrition can be supplemented by anaerobic style exercise such as weight lifting and sprints, which also helps improve the body’s capability of burning fat rather than glucose as fuel.
Women and men burn and store fat differently
A great benefit for women is that women rely much more on fat for fuel whilst exercising compared to men. This however makes it essential for women to regularly exercise due to the fact that they burn less fat at rest. Particularly as much of this fat is just below the skin (subcutaneous) and is that fat we can all see and want to get rid of.
What to do about it: To get rid of this stubborn fat it is essential to use anaerobic style exercise like weight training which favours multi-joint exercise like squat, deadlifts and lunges, as the high intensity of the weight training is much more effective at mobilising fat to be used as fuel compared to aerobic steady state exercise like running.
Stress can affect metabolism, limiting fat loss.
Stress affects everyone and their aims to lose fat, but certain types of stress can affect women differently to men.
Stress can lead to cortisol to be consistently secreted, with cortisol being used to increase blood sugar and insulin so to have enough energy to get over a stressful period. When this becomes consistent, the hormone of pregnenolone (a precursor to estrogen and testosterone) is turned into progesterone, which is used to make cortisol and aldosterone. Together, these hormones lead to greater fat and fluid storage.
What to do about it: Find some stress relieving strategies that work for you, whether it be yoga, meditation or any other means of relaxing.
Sleep is essential, so ensure that sleep patterns are kept consistent and try to get a minimum of 8 hours sleep.
Calorie restriction or intermittent fasting can have a detrimental effect on women.
Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction is a prime example of how stress can have a negative effect on women’s metabolism, with research showing that it can be harmful to their reproductive health. Furthermore, is has been reported women that calorie restriction has led to weight gain, sleeplessness and blood sugar imbalance.
The belief is that calorie restriction causes a hormonal dysregulation, causing excessive cortisol secretion and leading to the body to store fat.
What to do about it: Avoid calorie restriction and intermittent fasting. Maintaining energy levels and nutrient intake will help keep hormonal balance. Thus, making your body more willing to give up any fat stores.
Women have similar capabilities in building and maintaining muscle as men.
Women may not be able to build the same absolute muscle mass as men, but it has been found that the protein synthesis and gene signalling, which is what makes muscles grow, is similar in both men and women following a workout. This means women have just as much capability to build muscle (THIS DOES NOT MEAN BULK UP!) and improve their metabolic rate (calories burnt at rest) and insulin sensitivity, which significantly aids any fat loss attempts.
What to do about it: To enable results to show, undertaking a weight training programme in which moderate load (65-85% one-repetition maximum) and moderate reps (8-12 reps) is ideal. This will help to build that muscle and enhance metabolism significantly to enable fat loss.
Be sure to lift heavy enough weights to ensure that results are maintained, as it is common for women to lift weights that are too light.
Come down and try our bootcamp in Northampton out if you fancy giving it a go. First session is FREE!