Fat loss for females is a topic that isn’t addressed enough when it comes to dieting.
Although there are some similarities biologically, the truth is that women are much more resistant to fat loss than men. There are multiple reasons for this such as shifting hormones, the menstrual cycle, stubborn fat stores, more frequent metabolic adaptations etc.
Logically it makes sense.
When it comes to the survival of the human race, a women’s role is much more important than a man's (sorry fellas). Looking at it from a reproduction standpoint, a guy only really has one job where as a female has a much greater task.
Not only does the woman have to bear a child, she has to feed it, look after it, raise it and live long enough to ensure it survives.
The entire female system is therefore set up to ensure it can last the trials and tribulations of evolution and handle changes in food supply, increased activity, starvation, stress etc.
This is backed up by a study done by the University of Pittsburgh whereby male and female rats were starved for a period of 72 hours. After 24 hours, the male rats experienced significantly more cell dysfunction than the female rats and died quicker. The female rats were able to form lipid droplets to store fat reserves to ensure they survived longer.
In times of extreme famine, statistics show that females in concentration camps had a much higher survival rate than men, again highlighting their defiance to fat loss.
With this is mind, it’s important that females take a slightly different approach when dieting and use a few tactics to ensure they can lose weight in a healthy manner and help combat some of the above adaptations.
Below are some tips on how to get better results with fat loss:
1. Take longer and more frequent Re-Feeds
Try including a range of high and low carb days within your diet. This will help combat the up regulating and down regulating of hormones that occurs a lot quicker in females.
2. Incorporate Diet Breaks
Try a diet break for a week or two where you increase your calories to a level where you can maintain your weight. Although diet breaks won’t improve fat loss directly, it will allow your metabolism to reset and get back to normal. This will help you when you go back into your dieting phase after a couple of weeks so you can continue to burn fat. Mentally, it’s also just as important to give yourself a break from your diet.
3. Give yourself plenty of time to diet
Try giving yourself an extra few weeks to diet than you normally would do. This will allow you to incorporate techniques such as diet breaks and re-feeds and will also help reduce stress. When we’re stressed a hormone called cortisol is released into the body and this has been shown to hinder fat loss. Giving yourself plenty of time to strip down will really help combat this issue.
4. Train with more total volume
Try adding extra sets onto exercises and incorporate more compound movements such as squats, deadlifts and leg press. This increase in volume will help heighten caloric burn when dieting.
Total volume is defined as = (sets x reps x weight)
5. Utilise more Low Intensity Cardio
Try adding steady state walking on a treadmill or stair master into your training sessions. This will help heighten caloric burn without seeing the negative effects with hormones that can occur when you’re doing too much high intensity cardio like sprints etc.
6. Take an Active Recovery on days off
Try picking up active hobbies such as hiking, swimming, cycling etc. on days off from the gym. When we diet our body starts to shut down, we move less and this can impact caloric burn. By forcing yourself to move more can help increase your energy expenditure for the day. This added up over the week can go a long way towards helping you lose fat.