Probably 99% of the women that I come in to contact with are after one thing….FAT LOSS! They want to be placed on the “look good naked” program. Fat loss for females can be pretty tricky in some cases because as any man will tell you – women are very complex – sorry ladies, it’s true from a physiological and hormonal perspective anyway.
Below, I have provided some of my top tips for optimizing female fat loss. Understand that these are general rather than specific guidelines and are in no specific order. There is no sense in getting more specific until you have these things mastered. I have made every effort to be brief in the explanations.
1. Never diet, Cut Calories, or Skip Meals
I have written on this many times in the past. Cutting calories and skipping meals is a fast way to make yourself fatter in the long-term if you are a female. Why? Many reasons, not the least of which is that as you cut calories your body and metabolism become more efficient at operating on lower and lower caloric intakes. If you do this long enough, you will end up eating 600 calories per day and getting fatter in the process no matter how much you exercise.
Consider that within 24 hours of going on a low calorie diet, you immediately begin depleting your brain chemistry and it has also been shown to increase fat storing (lipogenic) enzymes in the body. As a female, you already have three times the amount of fat storing (lipolytic) enzymes as fat burning ones. Any changes in brain chemistry will typically lead to cravings, among other things. This can lead to low calorie eating followed by the mother of all binges. Skipping meals and cutting calories is also a great way to set yourself up for either qualitative or quantitative deficiencies. Anyone with a history of chronic yo-yo dieting or long-term use of most medications is most certainly going to have severe nutritional deficiencies of some kind.
2. Lift heavy things – intelligently, of course.
Want to burn more fat? Build more muscle – period! The more muscle you have, the easier it will be to be less soggy around the midsection – or any other section for that matter. Many women when they go to the gym walk a mile around the free weight and dumbbell area like there is a plague of some kind in the area on their way to hit a “great cardio session.” To be blunt and to the point – that’s dumb. Lift heavy things, build some muscle, and lose the unwanted fat.
3. Ditch traditional cardio in favor of HIIT 2-3 times/wk.
Traditional cardio sucks. Just read my previous post on Why Cardio Sucks. If you are looking to get a handle on Number 2, ditch the traditional cardio for HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. I would recommend 2-3 sessions per week on your non-resistance training days (generally). This can take the form of sprint intervals – which happens to increase every anabolic (muscle building) hormone in the body, interval work on a stationary bike with some resistance, sled pushing and dragging, or any other form of interval torture you can come up with. Now, don’t get it twisted, HIIT is not a walk in the park. It’s going to be difficult and it will suck. But, no one who has a great body and actually maintains it got it without going through some serious stuff and spending considerable time in the trenches!
4. Eat enough proteins and fats
Simply put, these are the building blocks for muscles and hormones. If your diet is deficient for your physiological needs and demands –forget about building more muscle, losing fat, and looking any better in your birthday suit! Chances are good that if you are training with any kind of reasonable intensity and you are eating less than 80-90g of protein per day, you are not giving your body what it needs to repair the musculoskeletal or neuro-hormonal systems. Your body will be stuck in a catabolic cycle that will be hard to come out of, you will easily over-train, and you will eventually be fatter than you were when you started. This does not mean you need a “high protein” diet. It simply means you need to give the body enough of what it requires to accomplish the given task – recovery and regeneration. A book could easily be written on this topic but I will leave it there…..for now.
5. Upregulate thyroid function
The thyroid is the chief gland responsible for regulating your metabolism. If you have the metabolism of a snail, consider the health of this gland and up-regulating its function. There are many “things” that impact thyroid function and ALL of them should be considered if healing your metabolism is on the agenda.
6. Regulate your blood sugar
This is one of the major factors that can effect thyroid function (and vice versa) – not to mention just about every other major organ and glandular system in the human body. There are few things as important as learning to effectively manage your blood sugar. If you are curious, you can take blood sugar readings first thing in the morning, before lunch, before dinner, and prior to bedtime. All readings should be between 80-100 if you are effectively managing your blood sugar, in my experience. It can also be gauged using temperature and pulse readings.
7. Balance hormones
This has mostly to do with regulating estrogen:progesterone in the female body. Many women are estrogen dominant and/or progesterone deficient for one reason or another (understand that estrogen dominance does not always equal too much estrogen). If you are dealing with inflammatory issues of any kind, chances are good that the biological effects of estrogen are going unopposed and It would be in your best interest to down-regulate estrogen in the body. There are many assessment tools for this kind of thing from saliva assessments, temperature and pulse assessments, blood work, etc. Incidentally, up-regulating thyroid function can down-regulate the biological effects of estrogen which are closely associated with inflammation and the aging process.
8. Take care of your gut
If you are dealing with chronic digestive issues of any kind – constipation, bloating, gas, abdominal pain, etc. you will have a hard time losing unwanted fat. Fat loss requires good nutrition. If your digestive system is defective for any reason (and chances are good that it is if you are over the age of 35), you will have problems with breakdown and assimilation of nutrition, thus making fat loss a low priority on the totem pole of survival.
9. Eat real food
Eat food the way Mother Nature intended it to be eaten. Eliminate anything and everything that comes in a box, bag, can, etc. All processed foods should be given to those that you do not like. Eating garbage is a fast way to look and feel the same way. Done.
10. Drink less alcohol- yes, I am serious
Alcohol will damage the mucosal lining of the small intestine and long term and chronic exposure will reduce your ability to absorb the nutrition from your food – assuming there is nutrition in the food! At the very least, never drink on an empty stomach. That is a recipe for disaster. Alcohol can also make you hypoglycemic, taxes the liver and kidneys (dark circles under the eyes is an indicator here), and by screwing with your blood sugar and digestive health – it will down-regulate thyroid function as well. Alcohol consumption will also have a negative effect on progesterone levels – not good for female physiology. In my home state of Louisiana, this is a huge blocking factor because apparently if the sun comes up it’s an excuse to drink something that has alcohol in it. I have never really understood that but hey, I’m a weirdo.
11. Eliminate grains
Lots of people have lots to say on this topic. What I will say is that this has been one of the most effective fat loss tools in my experience. Eliminating breads, pastas, wheat, etc. is a great way to drop some unwanted pounds. See my previous post Reasons to go Against the Grain for more details on why eliminating grains is a great idea.
12. Optimize Detox function
Quickly, the body stores toxins in fat. The more fat you are trying to lose, the more the detoxification system has to deal with eliminating those toxins from the body. If the liver, kidneys, gall-bladder, lungs, etc. are overloaded, fat loss will be placed on hold so that the organs are not overly taxed. Drink plenty of water and adhere to the above recommendations and you should be relatively good to go. You do not need “this” or “that” miracle “cleanse” at all. You simply need to eat digestible foods that foster energy production at the cell level and detoxification capacity will upregulate itself!
13. Love your body NOW!
If you make changes or decision based on hate “I hate my thighs so I need to…….” You are not likely to see life-long success. If it does work, the results will likely be short lived. You only have one body so I recommend you fall in love with it now, as it is. Learn to listen to what it is telling you. A stomach ache is not a deficiency of Pepto Bismol or Tums. Loving the body you have doesn’t mean that you have no desire for improvement. It means you care enough to make more loving decisions for yourself in order to improve the visual appearance – and there is certainly nothing wrong with that!
I hope that helps in some way and I thank you for reading!
Yours in Health and Happiness,
Brandon J. Alleman