Everyone knows that changing your body is no simple task. Women face an even tougher task because the vast majority of the advice on fat loss and muscle building is based on research done on men, yet women’s bodies differ significantly from men’s in terms of metabolism and exercise response.
What to do about it? The Poliquin Group editorial team has put together “Five Facts Women Must Know To Lose Fat, Build Muscle, and Improve Performance.” Take a look at this list and see what you may have been missing all this time in your training and nutrition:
- At rest, women burn more glucose (carbs) than men and less fat
- Women and men burn (and store) body fat differently
- Stress affects women’s metabolism, inhibiting fat loss
- Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction tends to be detrimental for women but beneficial for men
- Young women have the same ability to build muscle as men
Read on, share with other women you train with, and share your thoughts in the comments below.
1. At rest, women burn more glucose (carbs) than men and less fat.
The fat around the hips and thighs (called gluteofemoral fat) has a particularly high concentration of DHA, one of the three omega-3 fats. The theory is that gluteofemoral DHA fat is used to make breast milk, and that it is for the development of a baby’s brain.
Research suggests that U.S. women tend to have a low percentage of DHA in their gluteofemoral fat due to low intake of omega-3s. This typically leads to significant weight gain during pregnancy, because the woman’s brain is thought to monitor nutrient status throughout the body, sensing the low DHA stores.
This leads to excessive hunger cues, causing women to eat more, in the quest to store as much DHA as possible for nurturing an infant brain. In contrast, Japanese women have a much higher percentage of DHA in their fat due to high fish intake and are correspondingly leaner.
What To Do About It:
Regardless of whether you’re planning on having a baby, get adequate DHA in your diet. Shoot for a balanced ratio of omega-3 fats to omega-6 fats by limiting your intake of vegetable fats and oils.
Make your body metabolically flexible so that it is capable of burning fat for energy. Do this by limiting carbohydrates in your diet at certain times so that your body is forced to learn to burn fat. For example, try eating lower carb on a day when you aren’t training but higher carb on workout days. Doing anaerobic-style exercise such as weight lifting and sprints also improves the body’s metabolic flexibility.
2. Women and men burn (and store) body fat differently.
• Estrogen appears to limit the breakdown of triglycerides in the blood stream for storage.
• Estrogen enhances epinephrine production for greater fat burning.
• Estrogen stimulates growth hormone, which plays a role in fat metabolism and stimulates blood flow.
What To Do About It:
Perform strength training, favoring multi-joint exercises, with a focus on lower body and total body lifts such as squats, deadlifts, step ups, and lunges. Do high-intensity interval training on a track, bike, or by pushing a sled to target the alpha receptors and enhance fat loss from the lower body.
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