While there are universal principles for diets to lose fat, there are certain specific aspects for women that need to be understood in order to make the most of a weight loss program and know what to expect and how to measure the success of a strategy. This article is designed to describe and explain these differences and requirements to make diets so much more effective for women.
An example is an increase in fat around the hips, thighs, and buttocks. Evolution has dictated that these are problem areas for women who want to become and stay slim, which are generally much less relevant to men with the same goal.
And if these areas aren’t a problem for women in general, it’s in women who diet to create a “hard body” — with the goal of participating in some sort of body competition or just looking slim and athletic. Their strategy, goals, and measure of progress will all be slightly different than for a man.
The Bikini Competition Diet
THE BODYBUILDING DIET
The most effective dieters on the planet are bodybuilders. They are able to lose fat and maintain or build muscle on a very specific schedule, over and over again. Even a “failed” diet by bodybuilding standards would be considered a success by almost anyone else. So, the diet principles described in this article are based on the diet principles developed over decades by serious bodybuilders.
There are differences between individuals, including body type, metabolism, size, muscle mass, number of fat cells, and so on. And there are fundamental differences between the sexes. But when developing a diet strategy, there are basics that need to be addressed, regardless of who you are and what body type your genetics have given you.
- Body composition – Your body composition is the sum of your lean body mass (muscles, bones, connective tissue), your water weight (water stored in the cells), and fat (adipose tissue stored in fat cells). The goal of a good diet is to get you to lose fat weight while maintaining (or even gaining) muscle mass.
- Calorie balance – Fat has stored energy. When you consume more energy (calories) than you consume, your body fat increases. If you consume more calories than you consume, your body fat will be reduced. You lose body fat if you stay in a negative calorie balance over time, either by reducing your food intake, increasing your exercise level, or both.
- Exercise – Exercise consumes calories, but not all exercises produce the same energy needs. The type of exercise that burns the most calories is generally something where you move your entire body weight over a distance. These include cardio such as walking, running, cycling, and so on. Strength training consumes calories, but not as fast as the examples above.
- Nutrition – The best diets are those that reduce calorie intake but don’t lead to nutrient deficiencies. This means eating enough protein to maintain lean body mass, enough fat for system health, and enough carbohydrates to prevent a state of ketosis (an emergency state of the organism trying to cope with too little intake of carbohydrate calories).
THE BASIC STRATEGY
The best strategy for weight loss is to get into a negative calorie balance and stay in a negative calorie balance by absorbing fewer calories and increasing calorie consumption through exercise. Successful diets are a long process, and you shouldn’t expect much in the way of results for at least a few weeks. In addition to exercising to consume calories (cardio activity), you also benefit most from doing resistance bodybuilding training to build and shape the body to maintain or even increase lean body mass.
Why The Process Is Different For Women
As mentioned above, while certain basics are the same no matter who you are or why you are dieting, there are certain differences between the male and female bodies that need to be addressed.
Women tend to be smaller than men, carry more water weight and fat cells, and have only about 50 percent of the body muscle mass of men of comparable size. They also carry more of their fat and water weight under the waist compared to a man. And while men tend to lose fat around its middle part last on a diet, women often lose fat first in that area and it’s their hips, thighs, and buttocks that lose fat last.
The predominant hormone in the male body is testosterone. In women, it is estrogen that tends to increase the amount of fat and water in the female body. However, as a woman age — especially after the age of 30 — estrogen levels begin to decrease. Not natural testosterone levels, which means that more mature women actually have an easier time developing a slim body than younger women and girls. From this perspective, diets become easier with age.
Where Weight Loss Happens
Since women are designed by evolution to be floor-heavy, it stands to reason that the weight they carry under the waist would be the last one that would go during a fat loss diet. The body protects the fat stored in this area. Also, women shouldn’t let a shrinking waist trick them into thinking they’re further along with their diet than they are.
Given these differences between the female and male bodies, women need to keep the following things in mind:
Women tend to have more fat and water weight than men. This means they may need to diet longer and harder to get results.
Women have less muscle mass than men. Because muscles burn calories, women generally need to eat less and exercise more than men to stay in a negative calorie balance.
The more muscle a woman can build with resistance training, the easier it will be to diet effectively. Effective training also means that the body, which reveals itself through the eventual fat loss, is much slimmer and more shapely. So, the secret to a slim and shapely body is to follow both a program of muscle building and a diet for fat loss.
While there are teenage girls who participate in various types of body competitions and stay slim, they generally find it easier, lean and defined when women mature and their estrogen levels begin to drop.
ICONS OF SUCCESS
In the late 1970s, when women’s bodybuilding began, there were few examples of truly slim, fit, and muscular women. Even most female athletes did not have the excellent physique that is commonplace today. But these pioneer bodybuilders showed what was possible and how it could be done. And many followed in their footsteps.
Today, professional female bodybuilders have evolved to a level that few thought possible 30 years ago. Look at a number of Olympic sprinters and they are even more muscular than these early bodybuilders. This shows that the basic principles of bodybuilding diet and exercise work – and work more effectively than any other method of building and shaping the body that has ever been developed.
Women’s bodybuilding gave way to fitness, figure, women’s physique, and even bikini competitions and now thousands of women around the world participate in these events. Look at the bodies on stage and you’ll see six-pack abdominal muscles and slim, defined thighs and glutes. Again, there are not just a few of these women. They can now be found in most gyms and they come to competitive events in large numbers.
Evolution has given women a disadvantage in terms of muscle and nutrition, but bodybuilding trial and error have largely eliminated this disadvantage. Of course, educated and genetically gifted men will still be taller and stronger than educated and genetically talented women. Bodybuilding does not turn women into men. But it turns women who might otherwise have more fat and less of a lean muscle shape into those with incredible and athletic hard bodies.