5 Reasons Women Find It More Challenging To Lose Fat | And What To Do About It

There are some places a woman just has it tougher. In the boardroom where her idea gets recognized only when repeated by a bloke; the whole nine months of childbearing; and at the gym. In what seems like a cruel joke given the pressure a woman has to always look fit and fabulous, she just has a harder time losing weight. And it’s not because she binges on junk food any more than the average In-N-Out phantom. There are more variables in a woman’s metabolic process and response to exercise than there are variations of Caesar salads. 

The Monthly Hormonal Roller Coaster

Hormones rule weight loss. And when a woman goes through 28-day cycles of ups and downs in estrogen and progesterone, it’s bound to affect productivity, mood, and the ability to exercise effectively or resist cravings. Most men will barely feel the difference when they experience testosterone fluctuations. In women, the hormonal chaos leads to yo-yo dieting, poor sleep quality, and poor results. 

What a woman can do to battle the changes a week before her menstruation is to eat more nuts, leafy veggies like kale, dark chocolates and avocados to balance the out-of-whack dopamine and serotonin levels.

Fat-loving Body 

The body of a woman seems to cling to its fat stores. It uses less energy than a man for the body’s functions, and stores the rest as fat. The stores are designed to nourish her baby when times are tough. It may seem like diets that put her in perpetual fat-burning state may go against nature’s intentions. 

One way to go against nature here would be to eat lower calories, in what’s called a ketogenic diet. But if she’s taking lower carbs, she will also have to bolster her brain health, energy and moods. She could eat more resistant starches (unripe bananas, seeds, legumes and grains) to tackle cravings, take the help of supplements or natural strategies to steady estrogen levels, and sleep better. 

Insatiable AKA Leptin Sensitivity 

Leptin signals the brain when to stop eating. At least, in men. Women can easily become resistant to leptin with insulin resistance and hormones gone awry. It’s easy for her to miss satiety signals, and to overeat. Eating resistant starches is one way to trick the system. They resist digestion like typical carbs, feed gut bacteria, which produce butyrate. Butyrate promotes good sleep and, as a bonus, boosts leptin sensitivity. This is why you feel fuller quickly on resistant starches. 

Slower Response to Exercise

When a woman works out, her fat cells release less fat into the bloodstream than a man’s. While exercise can help men keep burning fat even when they’re resting, resting fat oxidation levels are lower in women. In men, exercise makes the body less likely to release triglycerides in response to a high-fat meal. This response is lower in women. 

Cortisol Resistance 

Stress often makes the body store fat. When women diet, their cortisol levels swing wildly. In cultures around the world, women are overworked and the last to take care of themselves. No surprises that cortisol levels are high. In the long term, cortisol resistance sets in. This ruins sleep patterns, metabolism and thyroid action. 

The remedy is to work on getting good sleep. Women need to start taking care of themselves, before they want to lose weight to look good! 

All of it sounds like bad news. But here’s the brief of what a woman can do to lose fat more effectively.

  • Get tested for a clear picture of her genetic makeup and hormonal status.
  • Eat more green leafy veggies and resistant starches, especially in the week leading up to menstruation. 
  • Work on bolstering her mood and sleep patterns. 
  • Work on HIIT exercises for most efficient fat loss. 
  • And let’s face it, eating lower calories (sensibly) is the best way of avoiding excess fat gain.