We all know that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, right? Well, why do we ignore the differences between a male and female genetic make-up when it comes to diet and exercise for weight loss? The typical advice of “eat less and exercise more” gets whacked out of bounds once we reach our twenties, especially in women.
Some of the definitive differences between men and women are highlighted below.
It’s all about the genetic make-up! In general women usually, have smaller waists while the estrogen hormone plays a role in promoting more fat storage on the hip and thigh regions. Both estrogen and progesterone hormones are pivotal in bestowing women with larger breasts. Men mostly have leaner limbs but stash away more fat in their mid-section due to testosterone.
Women know from an early age the impact hormones have on their body through menstrual cycles, and how hormones can play a huge part with how they feel, perform and look. Women should understand their menstrual cycle in order to enjoy effective fat loss management.
The first day of bleeding is considered day one of a menstrual cycle, to which it is then parted into two stages. The first stage takes its name from the maturing of the ovarian follicle and is known as the ‘follicular stage’. The second stage is called the ‘luteal stage’ as it is named after what the ovarian follicle becomes once matured, which is corpus luteum. Ovulation is when the egg is released from the ovaries, and it separates the two stages of the cycle.
Higher levels of estrogen compared to progesterone are associated with the follicular stage (stage one). This is in reverse for the luteal stage. It is apparent the relative ratios of the two hormones have an effect on fat loss and health for females.
The balance of estrogen and progesterone
A significant fat loss gauge for women is the balance of estrogen and progesterone and their relationship with other hormones in the body such as cortisol or insulin.
Larger estrogen levels comparative to progesterone on a woman could indicate larger hips and thighs, while bigger breasts and thinner hips could potentially mean the opposite balance of these hormones.
Another significant marker of hormone balance is the menstrual cycle. The time just before menses is generally a progesterone-dominant time where PMS is a major indication there is a progesterone deficiency comparative to estrogen. A comparative deficiency, however, is not the same as an absolute deficiency. Higher than usual progesterone levels can still mean a woman can have a relative deficiency if estrogen levels are a lot greater in contrast.
Women might feel out of sorts before ovulation in the first two weeks of their cycle when they encounter low progesterone in comparison to estrogen. They may very well feel worse after the last two weeks of their cycle, after ovulation. This is the time when some women may come across depression, sore breasts, sleepiness or fatigue, moodiness, bloating, no real motivation and other grievances.
Dissemination of female fat
Estrogen is the often the overarching factor for increasing fat storage in the hips and thighs of women, causing the renowned ‘hourglass shape’. Estrogen function is to boost fat storage by policing the alpha-adrenergic receptors in female fat stores around hips and thighs. These receptors can either increase or decrease the usage of fat.
Stress can also play a role in increasing belly fat. A natural stress response of your body can malfunction if you are subjected to chronic stress ( a hard week at work, family issues, etc.). Under these circumstances, your body may produce too much cortisol which is a stress hormone. This could promote overeating of easy, comfort foods like sugar in the form of treats or reaching for that extra glass of your favourite alcohol mix. Cortisol could lead to a build-up of deep belly fat or a pot belly.
When combined with testosterone and low estrogen, insulin and cortisol, are connected with belly fat deposition in women. Progesterone with estrogen pauses fat storage in the waist area.
Progesterone and estrogen help to keep the waist slimmer as estrogen works to counter to insulin, while the combination of both opposes the action of cortisol.
Working in comparison to the alpha-adrenergic receptors mentioned above, beta-adrenergic receptors accelerate fat burning and alpha-adrenergic block it. This is often a case of why some women find it hard to move fat from their hips and thighs.
One of the most effective ways to minimise the action of the alpha receptors is to undergo a low carb diet. Diets that are too low carb, however, can give reason for cortisol responses to be exaggerated and could have a negative impact on your thyroid.
Some women have enough fat in their mid-section and instead of getting rid of it (and frustratingly enough), they trim down in the breast and torso area first, with the fat storage remaining stubborn and hard to move from below.
Estrogen augments alpha-adrenergic receptor numbers, while progesterone makes it smaller. Like testosterone in our male species, progesterone could increase beta-adrenergic receptors. The aptitude to burn fat is manipulated by estrogen and progesterone, and these mechanics can determine which areas the fat will be removed from. This is a result of hormone balance not necessarily the calories consumed.
Estrogen is not all bad, however; it’s about the balance. Too high is not good for you, and on the other hand neither is too low. This hormone helps the body to be more susceptible to insulin and retains fat loss and muscle-building benefits. It needs to be in the balance with progesterone and other hormones to help with the battle of fat loss.
Factors that can influence female hormone changes
Women should be cautious of the common low calorie, high exercise, weight loss myth. It is this relentless approach to weight loss that is often not effective and can be the cause of further damage to your body. When a woman gets older, as stress accumulates over time, or due to environmental estrogen copying compounds, many things tend to start happening to their body. Ovaries reduce their manufacturing of estrogen and progesterone which, in turn, aggravates the balance of estrogen and progesterone. This gives the upper hand to an estrogen dominance.
What we eat and the environment that we live in also produces copycats of estrogen. Fat cells still continue to make estrogen through an enzyme known as aromatase, which is apparent within fat cells. This steers the balance of estrogen and progesterone towards estrogen. In conjunction with this, trimming and muscle-building hormones such as the human growth hormone (HGH) and DHEA start to decline. There are now more reasons for fat gaining of the middle section.
The hormones HGH, DHEA and progesterone, pester keeping of fat in the mid-section of a woman’s body and help to keep her trim. A diet full of low calories with a focus on high impact exercise can hinder this function as it does not help to restore these hormones and could make more of a negative impact on the proper balancing of estrogen progesterone eventually.
How to rectify the situation
Women need to concentrate their efforts on the right food and exercise that is suited for them. Consumption of more vegetables and estrogen-free proteins is the way forward. Try a soy-free, organic meat approach. Favour some training with weights above cardio. You could investigate a paleo diet that consists of starch as well to help with your weights.
As a guide, the below offers some steadfast ways to restore HGH in your body:
- Get plenty of rest
- Make sure you enjoy adequate amounts of protein
- Include some intense exercise incorporating weights
Weight training is imperative to the success of hindering the build-up of belly fat in your mid-section. HGH in women is the equivalent of testosterone in men, and it keeps women looking youthful, trimmed and firm. Once the levels of progesterone in your body reduces, due to factors like menopause or stress, HGH is your only remaining ally to keep belly fat at bay. You could combine weight training with some stress-free, relaxing exercises like an easy walk. Remember stress increases cortisol that we mentioned before, so taking it easy too is a key to success.
Working out with the menstrual cycle
Your cycle could provide a great opportunity to burn more fat during exercise. Estrogen intensifies the amount of fat discarded during a workout. However, it makes the burning off of sugar, less effective. Progesterone clashes with estrogen. A less intensive exercise gets rid of more relative amounts of fat, and a more intense workout is powered by burning sugar, so women should plan their exercise regime around these variations.
The influence of more powerful hormones like insulin reigns over the action of fat burning associated with estrogen and progesterone. Women need to keep insulin exposure to a minimum to benefit from the above mentioned planned training. Keep an intake of less than 100g of sugars from fruit and starchy carbohydrates each day. You can eat non-starchy vegetables as much as you like.
During the estrogen-dominant follicular stage (first stage), longer, slower exercise like walking, cycling and jogging, are probably more beneficial for you. You can increase your workout to a higher intensity, like sprints, during your progesterone-dominated luteal stage (second stage). However, during this stage remember to focus your efforts on relaxation and restoration. Weight training is great at any time for increasing HGH.
A fat loss remedy for females, in summary:
- Keep exposure to estrogen-related factors in what you eat and your environment to a minimum (avoid soy, pesticides or hormone additives, non-organic meats, sodas, )
- Give your body a chance to heal and cope with increased estrogen through natural detox. Drink green tea, eat fresh vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, increase your fibre intake, and reduce your reliance on dairy products and grains (these can cause increased release of insulin into the body).
- Lower insulin and cortisol effects. Drink filtered water from glass bottles and include green tea in your diet instead of sodas and bottled juices. Eat more non-starchy vegetables and fruits in replace of grains and starches.
- Protect your bones with fish or krill oil and vitamin D. This will help to protect against heart disease, some cancers, decrease inflammation and balance hormones.
- Incorporate weights into your exercise regime at least three to five times a week. It is important to walk, and this should be done as often as you can each day.
- Women with youth on their side can incorporate the unique qualities of their menstrual cycle to their benefit.
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