When it comes to losing body fat, many informed doctors and nutritionists agree that Mother Nature has abandoned her earthbound sisters into a bleak zone of metabolic disadvantage. Yes, it’s much more difficult for women to take control of their physical forms and build the healthy and functional body of their dreams.
Indeed, while most men respond readily to trivial exercise and nutrition changes, women fight a slow uphill struggle to make similar improvements. Whereas men tend to distribute body fat on their frames evenly, women find added fat tends to spread itself cruelly and uncomplimentary on their hips and thighs. To worsen their struggle, women typically lack the hormones and enzymes to adequately “melt off” fat. Women’s lower level of muscle mass makes the metabolism of carbs less efficient, and they are more susceptible to cravings for fattening sweets.
When it comes to losing body fat and sexual gender, many informed doctors and nutritionists will affirm that Mother Nature has scuttled our earthbound sisters into some metabolic disadvantages.
While men tend to evenly distribute body fat on their frames, (except for love handles and beer bellies) women battle, particular fat cells called beta cells that are densely located preferentially in their hips, and thighs. To worsen that struggle, women lack testosterone hormones and associated enzymes that burn fat with more efficiency. On average, women’s lower level of muscle mass makes the metabolism of ingested energy less efficient.
Steps to burn more fat better health
A lean figure, healthy skin, improved immune function, and healthy digestion.
Without a doubt, an aggressive strength/bodybuilding program is the significant element for physical transformation. Hard training with weights provides an indispensable metabolic adjunct to a proper eating program. Lifting weights “turbo-charges” your metabolism, allowing women to ingest more calories while maintaining bodyweight and changing the proportion of muscle to fat.
Weight training can have a profound effect on insulin resistance due to increased muscle mass. Insulin is the body’s primary storage hormone. Once foods are broken down, insulin directs nutrients (glycogen and amino acids) into either lean tissue (the liver and muscle) for fuel.
Hard, strenuous weight training increases the necessity of muscle glycogen as a significant energy source. Depletion of muscle glycogen stores on a regular basis will shuttle more nutrients to into muscle as opposed to your fat cells. Then activates your metabolism so that you are burning more calories – even while you are at rest!
If the average woman gained just 5 pounds. of muscle, while losing 5 pounds of fat (a realistic goal for most beginners over 3-8 months), their metabolism would burn an additional 600 calories in any 24-hour period.
Before discovering weight training, top fitness competitor Bernadette Perez shed 40-lbs. Of unhealthy fat using just diet. “When I lost all my weight and wasn’t lifting weights at all,” shares Bernadette, I became just an average skinny person. But when I started using the weights, I began to look better.
Sue Bergman adds a novel twist: “My favorite is Ostrich. If I could afford more, I’d eat more. Ostrich is dark meat but it doesn’t have the fat of dark meat chicken or turkey. It is a dense, like a steak, and tastes more like beef than chicken or turkey. It actually has more protein per ounce than steak.”
Sue’s cross-training diet
2 scoops Ultimate Muscle Protein
1 TBS Heavy Whipping Cream
1 TBS Flax Oil
Coffee with 1 more TBS Heavy Cream
7 ounces lean turkey breast, tuna, or chicken
1 Granny Smith Apple
7 oz. chicken (before cooking)
8-oz. sweet potato or 1.25 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups salad w/ 2 oz. cucumbers, or 1 cup green beans, or 1 cup frozen spinach
2 scoops protein shake
3 TBS whipping cream or 1 TBS Safflower Oil
7 oz. Chicken or occasionally sirloin or round steak (or other lean meat)
16 oz. package of frozen spinach
Meal #6 – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday only
Repeat any of the above meals or drinks
A diet high in protein assists exercises as a critical component in fueling the female fat-burning furnace. Protein maintains lean muscle tissue, keeping the metabolism working at peak efficiency. Proteins by weight provide less than half the calories of fat while the amino acids in protein give a variety of the necessary enzymes and co-factors for proper health, immune function and the maintenance of a healthy digestive tract.
Digesting, absorbing, transporting and storing food requires some energy by itself this thermic effect of food and adds metabolic stimulus to muscle. Carbohydrates and fats are more readily transformed into glycogen, requiring the less caloric value in that process, while an equal amount of protein, requires roughly twice the calories to be converted into blood sugar.
In a 200 – calorie protein meal, 20 calories may be burned in the metabolizing of that meal. It is common to notice an increase in body temperature of 1-2 degrees after consuming a high protein meal. In addition to the “free calories” used up in breaking down protein, many essential enzymes from a high protein intake assist in the fat burning process.
Now I eat more food, eat more often, and it’s a much higher protein, low-carb diet. I went from 14% body fat to 6.9 percent now with a higher energy level.” Most female competitors in fitness, figure, and bodybuilding eat egg whites and protein powders to provide useful, high-quality amino acids. In fact, fitness competitor Jenna Bellamy says, Egg whites and chicken make up about 80% of my protein, and the balance comes from Muscle Provider.
Many fitness competitors use a variety of proteins to ensure a balance of all the necessary amino acids the body may require. These are derived mostly from animal sources (eggs, beef, chicken, dairy, fish, protein powders), as they are much higher in the indispensable amino acids that the body cannot produce.
While foods should be the base of one’s protein intake, it is difficult for the average person always to consume regular servings 4-6 times a day. For this reason, supplemental protein powders are useful. All of the women I interviewed for this article use quality protein shakes on a daily basis.
Reduce carbohydrates After you increase your protein intake, the next most significant change to make in the diet comes from limiting and choosing proper sources of carbohydrates. Sue Bergman relates from personal experience. Women gravitate towards carb meals. Overcoming this problem leads to dramatic improvements.
If you examine charts illustrating the changes in obesity in North America, there is a steady increase in the mid-sixties and seventies, leveling out at a frighteningly high level in the eighties. Not coincidentally, this increase directly corresponds to the release of high fructose corn syrup as a primary ingredient of prepared foods and drinks.
Fructose is inexpensive, sweet and has a long shelf life. Unfortunately, body fat that accumulates from corn syrup derivatives lingers on your midsection longer than that shelf life! Today you can go to any shopping center and see dozens of pudgy kids waddling around behind their parents. Several generations raised in juice boxes and processed foods – the “super-size me” meals on the go.
Eliminating fructose is the most straightforward and most dramatic diet change you can make. Look at the ingredient listing on the back of your foods. If you see fructose, HFCS, or any variation of the word “syrup” listed in the ingredients ( main ingredients of foods).
In addition to high-fructose corn syrup, avoid simple sugars. Anything containing sugar, honey, molasses, brown sugar is unhealthy. Look at the level of simple sugars. Any serving with more than a few grams – consider it junk!
So what carbohydrates should you eat? Merely, eat some amount of carbohydrates in their most raw, natural form --- carbs that contain a high level of fiber. These foods are more filling and have more natural bulk (fiber and water). Avoid high-fructose corn syrup, it breaks down slowly and high glycemic indexed and are very filling for their calorie level (high satiety index).
Jenna Bellamy lists her favorite carbs as, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice and lots of green leafy vegetables, for fiber and roughage. Sue Bergman avoids some foods like a vampire avoids garlic. “I avoid white bread, candies, fried foods, snack treats like crackers or cookies. She adds I haven’t had white bread in two years. I haven’t had pizza in a year and a half.” Yes, strict, but this level of dedication has paid off for her, with an attractive, shapely body and multiple natural bodybuilding titles!
Every person responds to carbohydrates somewhat uniquely. Complete elimination of carbs leaves anyone flat without energy and run down. The key is to limit the amount you consume. Zero carbs lead to energy loss-loss of muscle tissue. Another trend I noticed in some of the women was that they would vary their diets, allowing for infrequent mini carb loads.
Jenna Bellamy follows a similar program. For her contest diet, she takes in no carbs for two days, and on her third day, she enjoys a sweet potato. She proudly relates, “Using this system, I dropped my body fat and didn’t seem to lose any muscle.” The best starting point is to limit starchy carbs to one small serving a day, increase your level of fibrous carbs and try to only eat carbs in a meal along with protein, some fat, and fiber. Both limits serving size of the starches and diminishes the effect how calories are store for energy.
Fiber, fat, and fluids
For those of you with less than sterling willpower, use the 3 “F’s” to make dieting less the battle of will! By consuming multiple servings of fiber, healthy fats and lots of water, you can reduce your daily calorie intake without ever feeling hungry.
Fiber is a real wonder. It slows digestion and improves the absorption of nutrients increases satiety and the feeling of fullness from a meal. High fiber intake also increases intestinal motility and enhances immune function. Fiber is high in antioxidant (cancer-fighting) nutrients.
Increasing fiber is as simple as taking in two or three daily servings of salad, spinach salad, or steamed cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans and asparagus). You can also add 1-2 daily servings of Metamucil, Udo’s Choice or Metagenics Ultrafiber. Dietary fats are essential. Consuming a right amount of mono and polyunsaturated fats have many significant benefits including increased energy, stronger immune system, decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease, improved brain function (mood, intelligence, behavior, and vision), reduced inflammation, appetite suppression and enhanced digestion.
Fats are an excellent energy source. They break down slowly with sustained energy release stabilizes blood sugar levels and fights the cravings that victimize those that rely on simple carbohydrates for energy. Most importantly, using fats as your primary energy source instead of carbs “trains” the metabolism to burn fats as the preferred source of energy.
Many sources of fat will be naturally occurring in the foods that are part of your diet. Balancing the correct fatty acids is the problematic part. The average intake has a meager amount of Omega 3 fatty acids (found in flaxseed, green leafy vegetables, and cold water fish). The average diet is higher in Omega-6 fatty acids (found in seeds, nuts, land animal meats and fish). Omega-3 must go up. Flaxseed oil, canola oil, and olive oil can be added to the diet.
A spoonful of olive oil or Udo’s Choice Oil Blend helps with digestion, keeps my skin healthy, and my energy high. Kirsten Nicewarner opts for EPO caps (Evening Primrose Oil) and Flax. For gradual, regular energy, she says, I take one capsule of each at every one of my six meals.
High fiber diet for 140 pound female to reduce body-fat
Meal One 4 oz. chicken, 3 egg whites, 1 yolk, ½ grapefruit
Meal Two 1-2 scoops protein shake, 2 tbsp flaxseed oil, 2 tbsp psyllium fiber
Meal Three 4 oz. chicken, green salad with romaine lettuce, red pepper, tomato, cucumber
Meal Five 4 oz. chicken, green salad as above or stir fried tomatoes, zucchini, spinach or rolled up chicken in romaine lettuce
Bernadette Perez feels a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing is an excellent salad topping. This way she gets both her fiber and essential fat intake in one package. As an addition to your protein shake, fats can make your shake even more of a treat. Master’s bodybuilding title-holder Beth Simpson says, Twice a week I add a tablespoon of heavy whipping cream to my shakes. Adds a pleasant thickness and “mouth-feel” to the drink.
Liz Maurice adds, “On a diet, a spoonful of peanut butter, either in a shake or off the spoon is the most satiating treat imaginable.” What about fluids? Not only is water calorie-free and very filling (working as a very simple appetite suppressant), also water is an essential chemical medium in the fat-burning process.
Also, believe it or not, paradoxically, the best solution to water-retention is an increase in water intake! That’s right. High water consumption has a powerful diuretic effect. To quote Adam Sandler in the movie Waterboy, “Now that’s some high-quality H20!”
Most athletes feel high water intake has a noticeable effect on their appearance and well-being. At least half of your daily fluid intake (at least three 16-ounce glasses) should be distilled water. Diet beverages; such as diet colas and Crystal Light are acceptable, but only in addition to the 3, 16-ounce daily water minimum. All of the women I have interviewed take in at least a gallon of water each day. Kirsten Nicewarner comments, “If I cut back on my water, I seem to lose energy and don’t feel as good.”
Are extra aerobics a benefit?
Overemphasizing aerobic exercise is probably the biggest myth in weight loss. Caloric expenditure during aerobic exercise is minor unless the participant is in “triathlon-level” training. To put things in perspective, a 137-pound woman walking at a decent pace (covering 4 miles over a 60-minute period) on the treadmill will burn 248 calories. A plain McDonald’s hamburger is 280 calories (not even including that tasty slice of cheese). Gee, It doesn’t quite seem worth an hour, does it?
To further complicate matters, many of the obese lack proper oxidative enzymes to benefit from aerobic exercise. In other words, women endocrine do benefit from time spent sweating away on the bike, treadmill or stepper. Ironically, lean muscular people have the enzymes to burn body fat as a fuel source for aerobic exercise.
Moderate cardio combined with weight training keeps you toned and NOT skinny fat. Don’t eat away shapely muscle from over-training. The Key combined moderate pace.
Place the bulk of your efforts on weight training and eating better. Once you are near your target condition, proper usage of interval aerobic exercise can help “polish” your body. As Kirsten Nicewarner notes, “In the past, I would do 45-60 minutes on the treadmill each day. Going into my recent show, my trainer told me to stop doing aerobics. You know what – I came into my show fuller, yet still just as lean.”
Strenuous aerobic exercise causes a small increase in metabolic rate for a relatively short period. Strength training, on the other hand, has a higher exercise metabolic afterburn, creating a permanent rise in metabolism, raising your metabolism so that you are burning more calories 24-four hours a day. On the positive side, that exercycle is a great place to drape clothes that need to hang-dry!
Smaller frequent meals
The typical calorie-restrictive diet (particular those followed by women) involves long periods of fasting, often eating only lunch daily. Reduced daily caloric intake, it has many adverse effects programmed from centuries of evolution responds similarly to a starvation state. It immediately begins breaking down muscle tissue for energy. Muscle tissue is vital to fat loss because it is the body’s most metabolically-active component. It is for this reason that lean, muscular females are often able (and required) to eat large quantities of food, and remain shapely-lean. Their bodies are calorie burning furnaces.
The flip side of what we discussed above is that, while the body is breaking down muscle tissue for energy, it begins to store as much body fat as possible. The most efficient way for the body to utilize nutrients and it is operating under the assumption that this “starvation” state may continue for an extended period a metabolic nightmare.
Lastly, this fasting style of calorie reduction without exception leads to binge eating leads to massive calorie consumption with the worst food choices like lots of sugary carbs and saturated fats. While this may seem psychological, it has a same biochemical cause. The body requires simple sugars because in its metabolically challenged starved state it needs something that can be absorbed quickly to maintain proper brain function leads to irritability and clouded thinking linked to fasting.
As a final note, this type of eating program is also dangerous because it does not provide the essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and co-factors needed for optimum health.
Women alter your appearance and health
In conclusion, The solution to a slow metabolism is weight training (which we discussed earlier) and eating 4-6 six meals a day. By increasing the number of times you eat (but not the overall daily calorie intake), you significantly improve the efficiency of your metabolism.
Providing many positive benefits a slow-steady-flow of nutrients, keeping blood sugar levels relatively steady less deposition of body fat and should eliminate most cravings for sweets. With frequent, small feedings, nutrients are also absorbed better.
An interesting phenomenon among women I have worked with in the past has been that, somewhere between the seventh and tenth day on the eating program, they experience a noticeable change in their metabolism. Where at first they noticed themselves almost needing to force themselves to eat the small frequent meals, they begin to feel themselves feeling slightly hungry a few hours after eating.
An excellent sign that a female is adapting and her metabolism now more efficient. Beth Simpson says I used to eat four times a day. Now that I’m competing I eat six times a day. I find myself looking forward to my next meal.
Frequent eating is where a lot of people fail, citing excuses about how their hectic schedule, busy career or family duties would make eating five or six times a day. Strategies are the solution.
For Beth Simpson, setting aside an hour or so for food prep twice a week is a solution.
“I prepare my food for at least 3-4 days in advance – salads, chicken, eggs, turkey and everything else I need for the day. I measure everything out so at breakfast I take whatever I need out of the fridge and I’m ready to go.“
There you have it six guidelines less body fat, improved muscle shape, increased strength.
Each of these changes seems simple, but when all used together, they can dramatically alter your appearance and health. Each of the women I spoke to have made greater body changes than they initially thought possible.