Where my ladies at?
So you’re ready to take that dream body you see in your head and make it into a reality.
You’re ready to lift and tighten areas like the booty, chest, core, and back of the arms.
Here’s the thing, the majority of information out there on female fat loss WON’T help you do that. That’s because there is some BAD information out there from people just looking to meet a sales quota and make money.
Diet pills, powders, body wraps, teas, and pre-made meals. They’re sales tactics, and they hire the best marketing people out there to try and convince you that you NEED this product for fat loss.
I can’t stand the people selling to sell or claiming to be a coach or expert in fitness and nutrition. Just because you’ve used the products or threw out an incredible sales pitch to land the job doesn’t mean you’re an expert.
But that’s not even my biggest problem with these companies.
My biggest problem is that you are made out to be the problem.
You do everything they tell you and see some initial results. They claim it’s their products and really sell you on how spectacular they are.
But then the results stop, and all of a sudden something is wrong with YOU! It worked for them and everyone else so you must be the problem.
You are NOT the problem, and you should not be made to feel that way.
So before I dig into these companies any further… ladies, here’s what you need to do to get lose fat, get lean, and feel great!
Eat Real Food
The supplement industry is booming, and it seems that EVERYONE interested in kickstarting their health and fitness journey turn right to the supplement industry.
For females, these supplement companies, more specifically their marketing departments, know how to really suck you in. They know what you want:
- Fat Loss
- Quick Results
- Minimally Time Consuming
If you ever look at the TV and internet ads, they play right off of these things to really hit on exactly what you want to hear.
But you know the saying “Nothing worth having comes easy.”?
That statement stands incredibly true for fat loss.
We all want quick and easy fat loss results that don’t take up a ton of our time, but those results aren’t sustainable long-term.
These magic diet pills, fat burning teas, and diets in a box aren’t realistic long-term, nor do they give you the results you want in a lifestyle you actually enjoy.
The marketing team do a beautiful job crafting these ads to make it sound like what you need by touching on what you want.
What you really need is to eat real food.
Filling yourself with pills and powders will leave you nutrient deficient, feeling as if you’re missing out on the foods you enjoy, and probably not completely full or satisfied.
My nutrition clients focus on consuming whole, minimally processed foods 80 to 90% of the time. That leaves them with 10 to 20% of their intake to be of lower quality foods they enjoy.
So what makes a food whole and minimally processed?
Here is the definition of unprocessed or minimally processed foods according to
“Unprocessed foods include the natural edible food parts of plants and animals. Minimally processed foods have been slightly altered for the main purpose of preservation but which does not substantially change the nutritional content of the food. Examples include cleaning and removing inedible or unwanted parts, grinding, refrigeration, pasteurization, fermentation, freezing, and vacuum-packaging.”
In short, these aren’t your foods found in boxes or cans, but are primarily found on the perimeter of the store and in the produce sections.
Commit to the majority of your diet consisting of these foods, and the rest can be the foods you love to indulge in or your more highly processed foods.
Now, it should be noted that I don’t completely hate the supplement industry. In fact, there are three supplements I recommend to nearly every client (If you want my full supplement breakdown, CLICK HERE to grab Dieting With Wine where I break it ALL down in Chapter 6).
#1 Fish Oil – a very common supplement these days. Fish oil has the ability to reduce inflammation and risk of disease while improving insulin sensitivity, mood, and overall health and longevity. For those with fat loss and body composition goals, you should be supplementing with fish oil as it is suggested to promote the breakdown and usage of fatty acids.
#2 Probiotic – a daily probiotic removes the majority of digestive issues and reduces likelihood of feeling bloated from food. These are often included in green supplements, and can also be added naturally in foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut.
#3 Greens Powder – these are filled with key nutrients that are potentially missed throughout the day as well as being a great aid for promoting overall gut health. A whole-foods greens supplement is preferred because research finds the micronutrients to be most effective when they are nearest to their natural state.
The majority of the population under consumes protein; that’s especially true for females.
Because at one point someone had the genius idea to suggest it leads to big, bulky muscles.
It doesn’t, and there is so much scientific evidence to prove that.
The sad part about this protein deficiency (for everyone not just females) is that protein consumption has so many benefits to overall health, and even more benefits during fat loss and lean muscle building.
During a fat loss phase, it’s the superior macronutrient for three reasons:
#1 The most satiating
This means protein is the most filling and keeps you fuller longer than any other food.
When your goal is fat loss, the most difficult challenge you face is fighting off true and faux hunger.
While in a fat loss phase, nutrition must be geared toward fat loss. That means you’re going to be placed in a caloric deficit, which means you’re eating less food and likely going to feel hungry.
The more protein you consume, the better you’re able to rid yourself of those feelings of hunger.
Ladies, this is SO important for you because you’re 1) typically in a smaller body size and eating less and 2) facing more hormonal fluctuations and since hunger is triggered by hormones you COULD experience more hunger pangs. For those two reasons, we want to do everything possible to fight off hunger and maintain that calorie deficit.
If you can commit to eating 20 to 25+ grams of protein at every meal (based on a minimum 4 meal per day diet) you’re going to maintain your caloric deficit AND feel satiated throughout the day.
#2 Helps to build lean muscle
When I started coaching, I thought that as a society we had moved past the belief that high protein diets led to bulky females.
I was wrong.
But I do believe women are making the shift from wanting to be skinny to wanting to be lean with muscular definition.
That might be your goal whether you know that or not because here’s the thing, for EVERYONE looking to lose fat, that also involves muscle building.
Here’s the other thing, muscle building is a MUCH SLOWER process than fat loss. The rate of muscle building doesn’t even come close to the rate of fat loss. This is something that you need to work towards for a long time in order to see some muscular gains and definition.
If there’s anything that you can do to keep an even pace of muscle building, it’s consume an adequate amount of protein to keep an adequate stock of amino acids (the building blocks of protein).
#3 Highest caloric burn during digestion
Fat loss is all about manipulation of the calories in versus calories out relationship. We want to burn as many calories as possible so we can keep the calories in as high as possible.
One simple way to burn more calories is to eat more protein because you actually burn more calories digesting protein as compared to any other macronutrient.
Your body literally has to work harder to break it down to its simplest and most digestible forms. Research suggests about 20 to 35% of the calories taken in from protein are actually burned off during the digestive process.
You get the point – eat more protein. But where do you even start?
With clients, I recommend 0.8 to 1.0 grams per pound of body weight as a solid daily intake of protein.
“There’s NO WAY I come close to that!”
No big deal.
With nutrition clients, we aim for a gradual increase instead of a MASSIVE jump (more doable and gut-friendly). We’ll achieve this through one of two strategies
Adding a source of protein to one meal every week
Simple things like:
- Chicken & Turkey Breast
- Ground Turkey, Chicken, or Beef (LEAN)
- Greek Yogurt
- Lean Fish
- Protein Powder
Gradually increasing 15 to 20 grams of protein per day
If you know which protein sources you like and you want to stick to those, adding to your portion size can be the simplest way to improve your protein intake. You’ll easily add protein by increasing your intake by 5 to 10 grams.
Be Cool with Carbs
The nutrition world loves its fads. Someone finds something that works for his or herself, tells a friend who gets some results, who tells another, and it spreads like wildfire.
Sooner or later it doesn’t work for someone, and that someone tries a new dieting strategy and the process repeats.
Currently, we’re at the tail end (fingers crossed) or the anti-carb fad.
Nearly every female nutrition client who starts with me admits to active carb restriction.
On top of that, the majority admit to having restricted carbs for years.
Your body wants carbs.
You NEED carbs.
If you take one thing from this blog, let it be that.
Now, I won’t deny that a ketogenic diet (or other lower carb diets) works for some people; HOWEVER, it’s a SMALL percentage and takes a lot of discipline and practice to
TRULY get to that low of a carb intake.
The reality is that everyone is different, and it may not be the actual ingestion of carbs inhibiting your weight loss, it could be the total calories, percentages of all macronutrients, meal timing, and source of carbs.
That’s why having a nutrition program tailored to YOU and your specific needs is SO important.
So why are carbs so important?
#1 Carbs are your body’s preferred fuel source.
Increasing or including carbs in your diet leads to:
- Higher energy levels
- Improved training performance
- Additional glycogen stores
- Faster recovery
- Increased protein sparing
#2 Harder to store as fat.
When compared to fats as a macronutrient, carbs and proteins are much harder to store as body fat. The process to do so is SUPER complex, lengthy, and something your body just doesn’t want to do unless it has to.
#3 Fibrous carbs are filling.
Protein is the most satiating nutrient, but do you know what the second most satiating nutrient is? Fiber. Just as we talked about with proteins, feeling full is KEY in a diet. Many times when I transition female clients into a higher carb and moderate fat diet they feel fuller, adhere better, and experience better results.
#4 Carbs decrease cortisol levels. Cortisol is your stress hormone that places you into “fight or flight” mode and slows or stops digestion, tissue repair, and hormone production. In our society, most of us live in a near constant state of stress and by default, consistently elevated cortisol levels. One way to lower those cortisol levels is through carb consumption as carbs have been shown to decrease cortisol levels.
#5 Leptin. Leptin is your hunger hormone. The higher the levels of leptin, the lower the levels of hunger and vice versa. Leptin levels vary on two factors 1) Body fat percentage (higher body fat = higher leptin) and 2) Food intake (especially carbs). During a diet, leptin levels will drop and you will feel hungry, especially during the first week when leptin levels can quickly drop 35 to 50% because your body is fighting to maintain homeostasis and keep the fat. Carb intake helps to stabilize leptin levels, and increasing carb intake can increase leptin levels, feelings of fullness, and results.
Keep in Things You Love
When your goal is fat loss, you definitely have to be more mindful about consuming your favorite lower quality foods.
Now that did not say “you definitely have to ELIMINATE consuming your favorite lower quality foods.”
For goodness sakes, eat what you love!
This restrictive “must give up all happiness” mentality NEEDS to go. It’s just not reality.
Think about your most favorite food in the world (Ice cream for me).
Can you honestly picture yourself NEVER having that again? (That’s a HECK NO for me)
So teach yourself how to enjoy the foods you love while on a diet.
Could it put a momentary stall or slow to your fat loss? Yes, here’s the good it can do for you:
#1 Improves Adherence – When’s the last time you told yourself you couldn’t have something? What’s the only thing you thought about? THAT EXACT THING! When you periodically allow yourself to enjoy the foods and drinks you love, you boost your adherence. You’re not thinking about how you CAN’T have something until your willpower breaks and you indulge like a starving animal. You can portion it out, eat what you allowed for yourself, and are quickly ready to get back on track.
#2 Makes It More Enjoyable – Food restriction is like working a job you hate – every day you wake up and do it but dread every moment. When work is enjoyable, you don’t mind doing the work and it’s just a part of your day. I work with all of my nutrition clients to modify and adjust some of their favorite recipes to contain cleaner, whole-food options to keep them on track with their calorie and macro goals. The more we enjoy what we eat, the less frustrated are and more likely to adhere to our nutrition plan.
#3 Builds a Long-Term Lifestyle Focus – The longer you restrict yourself from your favorite foods, the closer you get to your breaking point. Your current goal may be to lose fat, but long-term it’s to KEEP IT OFF. If you give yourself the flexibility to periodically indulge in the foods you love, you keep yourself far enough away from that breaking point to where you’re able to lose and keep off the weight.
Enough about nutrition, let’s talk training and fat loss.
Use Compound Exercises
Somewhere in history women were led to believe they must train like a delicate flower.
Women’s training programs or workout DVDs were filled with isolation and calisthenic exercises using ankle or neoprene covered weights.
Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I hate being thought of as some weak, delicate flower. I wouldn’t be caught dead in a leotard, leggings, and leg warmers bouncing around the living room to shed some pounds. Okay, okay, there was that one time for
Halloween, but that’s not your standard day.
I prefer to train like the strong, badass woman I am.
If you REALLY want to burn fat and change your body composition, compound movements are the most effective way.
What’s a compound movement?
These are the exercises that incorporate multiples muscle groups and joints. Examples include squats, deadlifts, pulling exercises, and overhead presses.
Exercises like leg curls, triceps kickbacks, and lateral raises are NOT compound exercises, they’re isolation exercises.
Let’s breakdown WHY compound exercises are more effective for fat loss:
#1 Greater caloric burn. The greater the caloric burn (given that you are in the right balance with the calories taken in) the greater the fat loss. Compound movements incorporate more muscle groups and joints which means more calories burned.
#2 Greater muscle recruitment. The more joints involved, the more muscles involved, and the more muscle recruitment. The increased muscle recruitment makes higher frequency exercise training easier because your body is used to training multiple muscles at once.
#3 Increased mechanical tension. Muscle building comes from three strategies 1) Mechanical tension 2) Metabolic stress and 3) Muscle damage. The most important in relation to fat loss is mechanical tension because of its ability to build lean muscle tissue.
Step Out of HIIT Training
Today’s version of those ‘80’s cardio workouts is high-intensity interval training, or HIIT.
When we look at our smart watches, we see that cardio or HIIT style workouts give us the greatest caloric burn DURING; however, the amount of cardio or HIIT training we do is FAR less important for fat loss when compared to nutrition and resistance training.
Yes, cardio is still helpful and does offer some benefits, but it should not be prioritized over nutrition and resistance training.
The biggest complaint about cardiovascular work (both long-term and HIIT style) is that the body adapts very quickly meaning our efficiency is improved quickly leading a lower caloric burn. A word of caution, you will not see this on your smart watch because they don’t take adaptation into account. The rapid adaptation means more work needs to be added, which means further adaptation, and a round and round cycle until you’ve racked up hundreds of miles.
How do we work around this?
Increase training volume!
What does that mean?
That means an increase in the number of hard sets you do. More hard sets will help you to build lean and defined muscle as well as speed up your fat loss results.
Let’s cover some training guidelines:
#1 Train 3 to 5x per week – Resistance training requires a balance of frequency and recovery. You want to train enough so the muscles are receiving enough volume, but that doesn’t mean every day of the week. Find the appropriate balance for yourself within 3 to 5 days per week so you’re guaranteeing enough volume and recovery time.
#2 Keep sessions to 30 to 60 minutes – The other area of balance is the amount of time spent training. You want to ensure enough time to get enough volume per training session without burning hours in your day. Set yourself up with a good training program that combines exercises to hit volume and muscle groups appropriately without hours on end in the gym.
#3 Limit HIIT and cardio to 1 to 2 sessions per week – HIIT is not a bad thing and it can improve your fat loss results, but too much can completely wear out your neuromuscular system. For my online clients, I include HIIT style of finishers that last about 5 to 10 minutes. These are intense but fun and can really add a serious caloric burn to the end of the workout without too much stress on the body.
Track Your Progress
Tell me, why do you want to put in all this work and not actually know if it’s paying off?
A MAJOR mistake I see people make along their fat loss journey is not accurately tracking their progress.
Most of the time you’re afraid to honestly evaluate and assess whether or not things are working out; therefore, you continue to follow a program that 1) isn’t right for you or 2) you’re not accurately following.
So how and what should you track?
#1 Weight – Put a scale in your bedroom or bathroom and check your weight first thing in the morning (before eating, drinking, or showering and after using the bathroom) at a minimum 3x per week.
How fast should you be losing weight?
The standard weight loss is about 0.5 to 1.0% body weight per week. Too fast and you’ll start to feel mentally and physically fatigued with the risk of losing lean mass. Too slow and you’re only going to get frustrated.
NOTE: The scale fluctuates GREATLY from things like water retention, stress, gut inflammation, and constipation. Don’t get wrapped up in the scale readings!
#2 Body Measurements – Body measurements allow you to see where the weight is being lost on your body. It is a more time consuming process and changes slower than weight, so I recommend clients take measurements every two weeks to once per month.
Where should I measure?
- Chest – right across the nipples.
- Arms – at the broadest part of your biceps (OPTIONAL: Flexed and unflexed)
- 2” Above the Navel
- 2” Below the Navel
- Hips – right across the hip bones
- Thighs – at the broadest part of your thigh (OPTIONAL: Flexed and unflexed)
#3 Metric Based Lifts – When you’re dieting, it’s important to make sure energy levels aren’t dropping too low. One of the best ways to do that is by evaluating whether or not the exercises in your training program are improving or not.
The goal is to lose fat and fuel yourself both in the gym and day-to-day life. All of my clients receive a tracking sheet for their weights so both of us are able to see how each exercise is progressing.
#4 Progress Pictures – The one most resisted by clients, but also the one EVERY client who refuses to do at the start regrets it later.
This gives you a visual of your progress and allows you to truly see the changes you’ve made.
Here’s where to take pictures from:
- Forward Facing
- Side Facing (OPTIONAL: Both sides)
Set yourself up with a timer, stand in front of a blank wall, and snap the pictures. It’s painless!
When it comes to fat loss, tracking your progress in a variety of ways is VERY important.
It helps you to see progress in a number of ways, and it allows you to see how far you’ve come when progress stalls.
Regardless of your progress, I want you to remember that there is NOTHING wrong with you.
You are NOT the problem when results stall.
You just haven’t found the right program or strategy for you YET.
It’s out there, and this guide is here to help you get started.
About The Author
Jordan Davies is the Co-Owner of Complete Performance. Jordan has her B.S. in Exercise Science and Psychology, and her M.A. in Holistic Health Studies. She is a CSCS certified strength and conditioning coach, and a PN-1 and NCI-1 certified nutrition coach. She loves to study how the human body needs to be moved and nourished and making that fit to your unique lifestyle. Click Here Now to Apply for Coaching with Jordan.