fat loss women versus men

Fat Loss For Women Versus Men

The Unique Science of Women’s Metabolism

There’s a common myth that fat loss is harder for women versus men. In fact, women are metabolically healthier than men due to higher estrogen levels. For example, women have better insulin sensitivity, less belly fat, and lower levels of fat circulating in their bloodstream.

 The reality is that losing fat is hard for everyone. Women are prone to certain issues that may impair fat loss, such as increased stress and anxiety about body image that can encourage poor eating habits.

 This article will provide facts about women’s metabolic function with tips for optimizing body composition.

Women and men burn fat and carbs differently.

At rest, women burn more glucose (carbs) and less fat than men. They also tend to store more fat after eating, which contributes to their higher body fat percentage.

 However, women rely on fat for fuel during exercise to a greater degree than men. This makes exercise absolutely essential for women who want to lose fat because it improves metabolic flexibility. Metabolic flexibility is the ability to easily switch from burning glucose to fat.

Women and men store body fat different differently.

Women tend to store fat right below the skin. Men have more dangerous visceral fat. Visceral fat is metabolically active and a risk for cardiovascular health and insulin resistance. For women, having a reasonable amount of lower body fat indicates better health and less heart disease risk. 

Fat loss patterns occur differently in women and men.

Women tend to lose fat from the upper body first. They have a harder time losing lower body fat. Women’s bodies preferentially store fat for pregnancy in the lower body. They have a greater number of alpha receptors in this region than men. The combination of alpha receptors and estrogen inhibits fat loss. Men have a higher total proportion of beta receptors, which makes it easier for them to burn fat. 

Excess stress impacts women’s hormones differently than men’s. 

Stress leads to persistent release of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol’s primary function is to increase blood sugar so you have enough energy to get through a stressful situation.

When this becomes chronic, the body turns the hormone pregnenolone, which is a precursor to estrogen and testosterone, into progesterone. Progesterone is used to make cortisol and aldosterone. Together these hormones lead to greater fat storage and more fluid retention. Not only will you have more cortisol, but you’ll have less estrogen and testosterone.

Women with lower testosterone than normal have a disadvantage when it comes to fat loss. Although elevated estrogen is not beneficial for fat loss, low estrogen isn’t either. Low estrogen inhibits the greater fat burning that women experience during exercise.

What to do about these differences?

The first step is to stop relying on advice based on men’s metabolism. It’s time for women to seek out recommendations based on their unique metabolic function.

 Plan Carb Intake Wisely

Although women may be able to handle more carbs in their diet than men due to better insulin sensitivity, they still need to plan nutrition carefully to ensure metabolic flexibility. Metabolic flexibility means the body is capable of burning fat for energy. This can be impaired by a high-carb diet, especially one that contains a lot of simple carbs. By limiting carbohydrates at certain times it is possible to force your body to burn fat. For example, try eating lower carb on a day when you aren’t training. Go higher carb on workout days.

Train Weights & Sprints

Shifting away from long-slow cardio to doing intense weight training and sprinting improves metabolic flexibility. Because women rely more on fat for fuel during exercise, incorporating anaerobic training can help with “stubborn” fat loss. Research shows that adding a strength program to an aerobic exercise protocol produces superior fat loss. One study found that strength training helped kickstart fat loss, resulting in nearly doubling the total reduction in body fat compared to aerobic training alone. Scientists suggest that the higher intensity of resistance exercise helps to stimulate fat burning.

Cope With Stress

Finally, it’s important to make the effort to adopt a stress management plan. Getting good sleep can help. Try improving your circadian rhythm by having a set bedtime and wake time. Eat at the same times daily. When you optimize your biorhythms, you can promote balance and optimal health. When you go against the clock, the innate rhythms are disrupted. This will increase stress and make fat loss much more difficult.

 

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