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 minor exercise and nutrition changes, women fight a slow uphill struggle to make similar improvements. Whereas men tend to evenly distribute body fat on their frames, women find added fat tends to distribute itself cruelly and uncomplimentarily 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.
Indeed, while most men respond readily to minor exercise and nutrition changes, women fight a Sisyphus-like uphill struggle to make similar improvements. While men tend to evenly distribute body fat on their frames, (with the exception of love handles and beer bellies) women battle, special fat cells called beta cells that are densely located preferentially in their hips, gluteus 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.
To further complicate matters, women’s magazines constantly bombard them with hare-brained theories and unsubstantiated quick fix voodoo techniques. For these reasons, countless women are always following some diet of the month philosophy. Few see tangible results.
Steps to burn more fat better health
Lean figure, healthy skin, improved immune function, and healthy digestion.
Without a doubt, an aggressive strength / bodybuilding program is the major 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, or into the fat cells where energy is more readily stored as dimples of shapeless flab.
Hard strenuous weight training increases the necessity of muscle glycogen as a major energy source. Depletion of your muscle glycogen stores on a regular basis causes more nutrients to be shuttled into muscle as opposed to your fat cells. This 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.
Weights totally changed my body composition and radically improved my shape.
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.”
A diet high in protein assists exercise as a beneficial 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 provide 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 is called the thermic effect of food and adds a temporary metabolic stimulus. Carbohydrates and fats are more readily transformed into glycogen, requiring less caloric value in that process, while an equal amount of protein, requires roughly twice the calories to be converted to blood sugar.
In a 200 – calorie protein meal, 20 calories may be burned in the metabolizing of that meal. This explains why it is not uncommon to notice an increase of body temperature of 1-2 degrees after consuming a high protein meal. In addition to the "free calories" used up in breaking down protein, it is also believed that a number of important 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 convenient, 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 in order to ensure a well-rounded 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 solid food sources should be the base of one’s protein intake, it is difficult for the average person to always 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.
After you increase your protein intake, the next most significant change to make in 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 major 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. This is a generation raised in juice boxes and processed foods – the "super-size me" generation.
Eliminating fructose is the easiest 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 (you’ll be shocked how often it is one of the main ingredients of foods) shake your head and place it back on the shelf.
In addition to high-fructose corn syrup, avoid simple sugars. Anything containing sugar, honey, molasses, brown sugar should be jettisoned. Look at level of simple sugars. Any serving with more than a few grams – consider it junk!
So what carbohydrates should you eat? Quite simply, 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). The best carbohydrates do not contain added high-fructose corn syrup, break down slowly (low glycemic index) 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 leads to reduced energy an ultimate 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. Liz Maurice treats herself to a heavier carb meal twice a week and notes; "This may just be an extra cup of starchy carbs. I have these more or less often depending on how I’m feeling and looking."
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. This both limits the serving size of the starches and slows how quickly they are absorbed for caloric 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 true wonder. It slows digestion and improves the absorption of nutrients. This increases satiety and the feeling of fullness from a meal. High fiber intake also increases intestinal motility and increases immune function. Fiber is high in antioxidant (cancer-fighting) nutrients.