When you look around, it seems like some women drop weight without even trying. In fact, some women can eat anything and still lose weight. But, not you. Why is that? In a word: hormones.
Men and Women Differ
Men and women are very different creatures, if you haven’t figured that out already! For starters, the hormone levels, types, and how they play into weight loss are very different. The dominate male hormone is testosterone. As long as men keep free and total testosterone up in a healthy range, and estrogen is kept in check, most of the male problems are solved. Weight loss is, more or less, simple.
But, females need to balance a multitude of hormones, both estrogens and testosterone, and those hormone levels are constantly changing every day thanks to something you have come to know as “the monthly visitor.” Aunt flow.
Yep, the menstrual cycle. While something like the Venus diet will help, you also have to take into account the fact that your hormone cycling will drive a lot of your weight loss efforts. Both diet and hormones need to be optimized.
What Your Menstrual Cycle Does For You
The first day of bleeding is considered “day 1” of the menstrual cycle. From there, it’s divided into two phases. First, there’s the follicular phased. Second is the luteal phase.
Ovulation separates the two parts of the cycle.
During the follicular phase, you are producing higher estrogen levels compared to progesterone, and during the luteal phase, the opposite is true – you’re producing more progesterone.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll want to focus a lot of your efforts into dieting and tweaking during a time when your body is primed for weight loss. Think of this as driving down the highway. If you’re driving down the highway, and you want to maintain speed or increase speed, it’s not going to help you if your foot is on the brake.
Your hormones are sort of like the brake in the weight-loss process. If you’re going to drive, drive when your foot is off the brake.
How To Get Your Foot Off The Brake
Estrogen works to increase fat storage by up-regulating something called alpha-adrenergic receptors in fat depots in the hips and thighs. So, if you’re trying to lose weight, you are probably going to see the best results during certain times of the month – times when estrogen is low.
A low carb diet like The Dukan Diet may also help by throttling alpha receptors, allowing beta receptors to improve fat-burning. If you’ve watched some of your most successful friends and acquaintances, one reasons they’re probably successful is because they’re consciously or unconsciously consuming fewer carbs (whether through calorie restriction or direct carbohydrate reduction) in their diet.
What You Need To Know About Fat Distribution
Females tend to distribute fat differently from males. In females, the hips and thighs are where most of the fat ends up. This area also contains a high concentration of alpha receptors, so it makes sense that you would gain the most weight here.
How Age Helps Or Hurts You
As you get older, some people find it more difficult to lose weight. Women are often fooled into thinking that a low-calorie diet and aerobic exercise will help them lose weight. This is sort of backwards. By reducing you’re calorie intake, you’re starving your body of the nutrients and energy it needs to function.
At the same time, you are increasing the energy demands. It seems logical that if you aren’t eating enough energy (food) your body will simply pull from fat stores. And, this can be true, but what often happens is that the body pulls from fat stores around the waist and breasts first, leaving the hips and thighs alone. Then, the body goes after muscle because you’re using a low-energy, steady-state, cardio “burn” to demand calories.
This results in reduced muscle mass, but not reduced fat loss. Ouch. It’s a double-whammy.
Instead, what you should be doing is increasing your weight-lifting capacity through strength-training, which will preserve muscle mass. Lift heavy and infrequently, perhaps 2 to 3 times per week for no more than one or two hours per week, total. Stick to large, compound lifts like the deadlift, squat, bench press, and overhead press.
Reduce the amount of estrogenic foods you consume, like soy. You should also consider getting rid of plastic food containers which contain substances that mimic estrogens in your body.
Last, but not least, focus on getting more sleep as you get older. Sleep is so underrated but is the single-most important factor in maintaining proper hormone balance and energy levels throughout the day.
GUEST BLOGGER: Hazel Frias is a personal fitness coach. She enjoys sharing her health insights on the web. Her articles can be found mainly on health and fitness websites.