As you know I'm in the middle of an aggressive weight loss regime. I recently read an article by the Poliquin Institute on the physiological differences between men and women and it had me thinking - how would I advise a female client if they wanted to follow a similarly aggressive weight loss program?
The basic premise is the same - eat smart (probably less) and train more. But there are subtle differences in the body composition between men and women - meaning there are a few tweaks to be made for women following my weight loss plan.
Tip 1: Don't be afraid to eat carbohydrates
Did you know that women are better at burning carbohydrates than men?
Women generally have better metabolic health than men. The two genders exhibit different hormone composition and, due to higher levels of oestrogen, women are more efficient at burning carbohydrates. This effect is enhanced during the start of a woman's cycle, when oestrogen levels are at their highest.
As a result, women can better handle carbohydrates during a weight loss regime. Carbohydrates are great for recovery so do not be afraid to include them in your diet. Balance your intake so that more are consumed on exercise days, and also during the first half of your cycle.
Tip 2: Exercise is essential for fat loss in women
Did you know that during exercise women are better at utilising fat as an energy source?
In contrast men burn more carbohydrates and less fat when working out. However, during rest periods the reverse is true - women burn less fat than men.
Since exercise switches on your internal fat-burners, it is doubly important to include exercise in your weight loss program.
Tip 3: Work in high intensity interval training (HIIT)
Did you know women respond better to HIIT than men?
Women rely on aerobic pathways to a greater extent than men. As a result, women recover faster in between sets and their ability to exert energy tends to last longer. This is perfect for interval training.
Apply a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio when performing HIIT. We love HIIT and have written about it before.
Tip 4: Don't overdo it
Long or intense workouts cause stress on the human body. This increases your level of the hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol leads to the body storing more fat.
Women have naturally higher cortisol levels. An excessively intense workout is more likely to push a woman over the edge, having a negative effect on metabolism and leading to increased fat storage.
Try making sure you rest enough in between sets of exercise. How do you know if you're pushing too hard? If you are struggling to maintain form throughout an entire set then you're operating on the edge - try increasing your rest period in between sets.