Not Losing Fat As A Female and What To Do

Fat is often labeled as bad – and we should be as lean as possible. But did you know we have good fat storage too? Being too lean comes with its sets of challenges but also health hazards, especially for females (irregular periods or losing your period completely, food phobias, etc). But that aside, did you know that gluteofemoral fat (ie fat on your lower body) is more passive in day-to-day metabolism than abdominal fat and has a protective role against cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. Abdominal obesity on the other hand increases the risk of diabetes, and heart disease independent of BMI.
losing fat as a female
Our head coach Tricia Yap and our team of coaches have worked with many female bodies over the past decade.  Collectively, our coaches have rich experiences helping women with fat loss struggles.  Oftentimes, the struggle of losing fat as a female stem from misinformation and unrealistic expectations. 
Here is some education on why fat loss is not the same between men and women and what to do about it.

 

1. You’re relying on cardio

Studies show that when three groups of people (diet only, diet and cardio, cardio only) start a fat loss program, the weight loss results from the cardio were statistically insignificant1.  Furthermore, energy expenditure on hours (and hours) of cardio versus resistance training leads to different results.  Unfortunately, overdoing cardio is a common go-to when female beginners are on a quest of losing fat. The sustainability of any movement chosen should be factored in.  Naturally, the more you can sustain something in the long run, the chances of desired results increase.

women do too much cardio

2. You’re not recovering…..from life

Commonly, many of us have hit a plateau and nothing seems to work like it used to.  Interestingly, all we needed was adequate recovery and things shifted right into gear again!  Similarly, apply that to life.  Accumulated stress from various aspects of life takes a toll on the body.  For example, work, relationships, responsibilities, poor gut health, injuries, and more   Allocating time to “recover from life” does more than recharge our energy, it is potent for our longevity across the board.

losing fat as a female

3. You are not in your 20s anymore

Generally, the body loses muscle with age, metabolism slows, and hormones change as we age.  Consequently, accrued stress as life evolves tends to invite more responsibilities that have negative impacts health-wise.  It isn’t just our physiological changes but our lifestyle and priorities change too.  While we used to have all the energy and time to spend at the gym in our 20s, things change with evolution. For many, energy expenses go towards career, home, and even damage control (from the effects of academic stress, poor sleep hygiene, poor food choices, higher intake of alcohol, and drugs…etc during the good ol’ 20s)

 

4. You are trying to eat like a bodybuilder

We get it. There are “before” and “after” transformation photos everywhere and we can’t seem to get away from them.  Furthermore, thanks to social media algorithms, stalking a few posts soon causes us to fall prey to more questionable marketing tactics on our feed.  Not to mention inaccurate information!  This is a common issue for many who consume information through those platforms.  The real change can only happen when you find trusted sources with legitimate qualifications & experience.  These are the professionals who can help you understand YOUR body’s tailored needs and how losing fat as a female is different from males. Additionally, we help you assess your history of health because age, genetics, environment, and lifestyle all play a part. Understanding those factors can help you eat exactly the way you need, to thrive.

losing fat as a female

5. Your menstrual cycle is irregular

Many women overlook irregular cycles, chalking it up to stress. However, they are all connected and they include irregular cycles, weight gain, stress, infertility, medication, and illnesses.  Several conditions are related to irregular menstrual cycle being a symptom.  For instance, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) & Metabolic Syndrome are becoming more common.  It has been reported that almost 50% of women with PCOS present metabolic syndrome in the USA.2 Women with PCOS are up to 11 times more likely to have metabolic syndrome than those without PCOS.

 

6. You’re peri-menopausal or going through menopause

Contributors to weight gain at menopause include declining estrogen levels, age-related loss of muscle tissue, and lifestyle factors such as diet and lack of exercise.  The change in the hormonal milieu at menopause is associated with an increase in total body fat and an increase in abdominal fat.3 In addition, these stages of a woman’s life often come with other symptoms like hair loss, vaginal dryness, skin changes, oral issues, joint & muscle issues, and even bladder issues – all contributing factors to a woman’s confidence, self-esteem and other important make up for good mental health.  In recent years, studies have shown that there are significant links between mental health and weight management.

losing fat as a female

What Can Females Do About Losing Fat Sustainably 

1. Address nutritional deficiencies and boosting needs.  Consult a qualified nutritionist or dietitian who can help you assess through the process of an in-depth questionnaire, tests, and real, honest conversation.  Keep in mind that most personal trainers are not qualified to prescribe “tailored” meal plans and supplements, so don’t be shy, ask questions – especially when it comes to females!

2. Adding on to #1, manage cortisol.  Manage cortisol first and caloric management will likely fall into place with less resistance.  Remember that stress interferes with bodily functions.  The issue with losing fat as a female is often related to high cortisol levels.  Put out the root cause of recurring fire before you burn out trying to hose down flames everywhere.

3. Be more selective and mindful of your movement choices.  You’ve heard that movement is medicine.  While that is subjective to the individual, movement has been restorative and regulating in most cases.  Above all, the increase in dopamine levels to balancing hormones to building essential muscles to strengthening the musculoskeletal & cardiovascular system to connecting socially, and more – every one of these aspects is indeed interrelated.

Gaining understanding and self-compassion have been key to many women’s success in losing fat sustainably.  We help females start through a discussion process called the Discovery Chat.  Schedule a FREE 20-min Discovery Chat with us, it’s on us.

This can be done virtually or in-person at our Gym & Health Clinic space on 86-90 Wellington Street (12th floor), Central, Hong Kong.

 

References
  1. Hagan RD, Upton SJ, Wong L, Whittam J. The effects of aerobic conditioning and/or caloric restriction in overweight men and women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1986 Feb;18(1):87-94.
  2. Carmina E. Metabolic syndrome in polycystic ovary syndrome. Minerva Ginecol. 2006 Apr;58(2):109-14. PMID: 16582867.
  3. Davis SR, Castelo-Branco C, Chedraui P, et al. 2012, ‘Understanding weight gain at menopause, Climacteric, vol. 15, no. 5, pp. 419–429