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 healthLean figure, healthy skin, improved immune function, and healthy digestion.
Weight trainingWithout 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.
Increased proteinA 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.
An excellent example of this concept in action is figure competitor Kirsten Nicewarner. Kirsten says, "When I was in gymnastics I was on a very low-fat, calorie restricted diet, I couldn»t get my body fat down. 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 Beverly Nutrition 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 (like Beverly) on a daily basis.
Before discovering weight training, topfitness competitor Bernadette Perez shed 40lbs of unhealthy fat using diet alone
Reduce carbohydratesAfter 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.
Jenna Bellamy says, "Egg whites and chicken make up about 80% of my protein and the balance comes from Beverly Nutrition Muscle Provider.
Fiber, fat and fluidsFor those of you with less than sterling willpower, use the 3 Fs 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.
Kirsten Nicewarner (that»s her real name) says,
I eat quite a bit of lettuce, green beans, broccoli cucumbers and grapefruit and this provides me with fiber. Increasing fiber is as simple as taking in two or three daily servings of salad, spinach salad, or steamed cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans and asparagus). You can also add 1-2 daily servings of Metamucil, Udo»s Choice or Metagenics Ultrafiber.
I take one capsule of each at every one of my six meals.
Bernadette Perez feels a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing is an excellent salad topping. This way she gets both her fiber and essential fat intake in one package. As an addition to your protein shake, fats can make your shake even more of a treat. Master»s bodybuilding title-holder Beth Simpson says,
Twice a week I add a tablespoon of heavy whipping cream to my shakes." This adds a pleasant thickness and "mouth-feel" to the drink.
Liz Maurice adds, "On a diet, a spoonful of peanut butter, either in a shake or off the spoon is the most satiating treat imaginable." What about fluids? Not only is water calorie-free and very filling (working as a very simple appetite suppressant), but also water is a necessary chemical medium in the fat-burning process. Also, believe it or not, paradoxically, the best solution to water-retention is an increase in water intake! That»s right. High water consumption has a powerful diuretic effect. To quote Adam Sandler in the movie Waterboy, "Now that»s some high quality H20!"
Most athletes feel high water intake has a noticeable effect on their appearance and well-being. Liz Maurice states, "My body is cleaner. I actually feel uncomfortable if I don»t drink a gallon a day." Most women argue that water makes their skin look better, reduces the severity of feminine problems and makes it easier to lose body fat. At least half of your daily fluid intake (at least three 16-ounce glasses) should be distilled water. Diet beverages; such as diet colas and Crystal Light are acceptable, but only in addition to the 3, 16-ounce daily water minimum. All of the women I have interviewed take in at least a gallon of water each day. Kirsten Nicewarner comments, "If I cut back on my water, I seem to lose energy and don»t feel as good."
Aerobics are extra #?Over emphasizing aerobic exercise is probably the biggest myth in weight loss. Caloric expenditure during aerobic exercise is rather minor, unless the participant is in "triathlon-level" training. To put things in perspective, a 137-lbs. woman walking at a decent pace (covering 4 miles over a 60-minute period) on the treadmill will burn 248 calories. A plain McDonald»s hamburger is 280 calories (not even including that tasty slice of cheese).
Gee -- It doesn»t quite seem worth an hour, does it?
To further complicate matters, many of the obese lack proper oxidative enzymes to benefit from aerobic exercise. In other words, their bodies are simply not geared to benefit from time spent sweating away on the bike, treadmill or stepper. Ironically, lean muscular people have the enzymes to burn body fat as a fuel source for aerobic exercise.
Moderate cardio combined with weight training keeps you toned and NOT skinny fat. Don’t eat away shapely muscle from over-training. The Key, combined moderate pace.Place the bulk of your efforts on weight training and eating better. Once you are near your target condition, proper usage of interval aerobic exercise can help "polish" your body. As Kirsten Nicewarner notes, "In the past, I would do 45-60 minutes on the treadmill each day. Going into my recent show, my trainer told me to stop doing aerobics. You know what -- I came into my show fuller, yet still just as lean." Strenuous aerobic exercise causes a small increase in metabolic rate for a relatively short period of time. Strength training, on the other hand, has a higher exercise metabolic after burn, causing a permanent rise in metabolism, raising your metabolism so that you are burning more calories 24-four hours a day. On the positive side, that exer-cycle is a great place to drape clothes that need to hang-dry!
Smaller frequent mealsThe typical calorie-restrictive diet (particular those followed by women) involves long periods of fasting, often eating only one meal a day. While this does reduce daily caloric intake, it has a number of adverse affects. Your body is programmed from centuries of evolution. Your body views such eating as starvation. It immediately begins breaking down muscle tissue for energy. Muscle tissue is important to fat loss because it is the body»s most metabolically-active component. It is for this reason that lean, muscular people are often able (and required) to eat large quantities of food, and still remain lean. Their bodies are literally calorie burning furnaces. Second, the flip side of what we discussed above is that, while the body is breaking down muscle tissue for energy, it begins to store as much body fat as possible. This is the most efficient way for the body to store energy and it is operating under the assumption that this "starvation" situation may continue for an extended period of time. Obviously, this state is a metabolic nightmare. Lastly, this
fastingstyle of calorie reduction without exception leads to binge eating. This typically leads to large calorie consumption with the worst food choices like lots of simple, sugary carbs and saturated fats. While this may seem psychological in nature it has an equal biochemical cause. The body requires simple sugars because in its metabolically challenged starved state it needs something that can be absorbed quickly in order to maintain proper brain function. This also explains why irritability and
clouded thinkingare linked to fasting. As a final note, this type of eating program is also dangerous because it does not provide the essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and co-factors needed for optimum health.
Women alter your appearance and healthIn conclusion, The solution to slow metabolism is weight training (which we discussed earlier) and eating 4-6 six meals a day. By increasing the number of times you eat (but not the overall daily calorie intake), you greatly improve the efficiency of your metabolism.
This provides a number of positive benefits. It provides a slow steady flow of nutrients, keeping blood sugar levels relatively steady. This leads to less deposition of bodyfat and should eliminate most cravings for sweets. With frequent, small feedings, nutrients are also absorbed better.
An interesting phenomenon among women I have worked with in the past has been that, somewhere between the seventh and tenth day on the eating program, they experience a noticeable change in their metabolism. Where at first they noticed themselves almost needing to force themselves to eat the small frequent meals, they begin to feel themselves feeling slightly hungry a few hours after eating. This is an excellent sign that their body is adapting and their metabolism is becoming more efficient. Beth Simpson says,
I used to eat four times a day. Now that I»m competing I eat six times a day. I find myself looking forward to my next meal.
For Beth Simpson, setting aside an hour or so for food prep twice a week is a solution. "I prepare my food for at least 3-4 days in advance – salads, chicken, eggs, turkey and everything else I need for the day. I measure everything out so at breakfast I just take whatever I need out of the fridge and I»m ready to go."
There you have it 6 guidelines less bodyfat, improved my shape, increase .
Each of these changes seems simple but when all used together, they can dramatically alter your appearance and health. Each of the women I spoke to have made greater body changes than they originally thought possible.
» Arms Make the Woman
Julie Lohre, IFBB Pro. From my training journal that illustrates my exact training program.
» Goals for bodybuilders, fitness competitors or powerlifters?
Real World Goal–Setting Reaching Measured Objectives
Goals need to be: Realistic, Have measurable outcomes, time limit to be accomplished.
» Tracy Beckham
NPC Female Bodybuilder Warrior Athlete
Tracy believes in a
return to basics for women’s bodybuilding.
Steve Colescott was the former Publishing Editor of Peak Training Journal. He currently works as a freelance writer for magazines such as Flex, BodyMuscle and Planet Muscle. Although he»s All-man and not overtly feminine, he has helped hundreds of women build leaner, stronger bodies!
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