Where Women Hold Weight and How to Lose It
If you’re a woman, you’ve probably experienced this: your guy friend goes on a diet for a week and loses a bunch of weight while only your breasts shrink as your back, arms, thighs and butt seem to hold onto fat like a first-time tuber holds the handles on the back of a boat breaking 90 MPH.
Stubborn fat, they say. No, it’s like an annoying sibling: it won’t go away.
So why do women hold fat in certain areas of their bodies and is there anything women can do to get rid of it?
Well, you know where we are going to start first, don’t ya? Yes…yes you do.
Science of How Women Store Fat
Fat is stored the same way by both men and women–in the form of triglycerides. During exercise, the body can break down fat cells and other cells in the body and use them as fuel for exercise.
Now here is where the differences come into play: women have about 10 percent more body fat than men.
Women are generally 20-25 percent body fat.
Body fat distribution varies among all people, but women tend to hold it in certain areas giving them certain ‘fruity’ shapes.
Some are pears, some are apples and some are jerks who can eat whatever they want and remain perfect. *UGH*
The reasoning behind different fat distribution in men and women is a combination of hormones and the way the body produces and uses them.
Female Hormones and Fat
The hormone that breaks down fat is epinephrine. Science shows it can more easily break down abdominal fat than hip and thigh fat. SUPER, said no pear-shaped woman, ever.
In fact, women have receptors that favor fat storage located in the hips and thighs.
Why God, why?
Estrogen. That’s why.
Estrogen is a female hormone that is both good and bad. It actually helps fat metabolism during exercise, but it’s also the reason women have cellulite and more fat.
It can enhance epinephrine production, but it can also inhibit fat breakdown by blocking hormones that help melt it off.
Well, just as you’re starting to hate it, it also stimulates the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) which helps mobilize fat.
HGH also inhibits insulin production which is a good thing for fat burning.
Confused yet? Yeah, women are uber complex.
So, we’ve got how hormones impact fat metabolism, but how about how fat is distributed between men and women?
Fat Distribution in Women
Let’s talk about the birds and the bees. No, nevermind, this happens right AFTER that.
After puberty, girls start gaining fat and boys start gaining muscle.
This is because of a lower basal fat oxidation rate which means the body uses fat less as a fuel when at rest.
As hormones make their debut, bigger butts, thighs and breasts are the result. Now, the number of fat cells does not increase—it’s the size of the fat cells. That’s important. Women don’t have more fat cells to lose, their fat has more fat to lose.
Thanks again, science.
That increase in fat demands a direction of where it should be deposited.
Hormones make that decision.
Typically fat is deposited more in hips, butt and thighs for women. It is more difficult to lose because it is there as a storage reserve for when you give birth—those areas are the energy reserve for lactation.
If you’re done having kids, you probably wish there was an “off” button for this fat distribution. But there’s not.
And when you’re reaching menopause, because of reduced estrogen, visceral fat ensues. So, if you’re not struggling with hips, thighs and butt fat, you’ll be combating belly fat.
Looking forward to the Golden years yet? Sheesh.
So, we know WHY women store fat in their trouble areas, but what can be done to combat it?
How Women Can Lose Weight in Trouble Areas
Well, diet is number one. It’s not just how many calories you eat, it’s what you eat.
If you’re cutting calories and eating junk, you’re triggering more insulin which will store more fat. So, a clean diet high in good carbs, veggies, and protein is key.
With that said, here are some additional things you can do for specific trouble areas:
Weight Loss by Body Type
While you can’t spot train or get rid of fat in just one area, where you hold fat can be an indicator of why your body is doing so, which can give you clues on how to combat it.
Storing fat in the thighs can be an indicator of higher levels of estrogen. Try avoiding soy and resistance train 3-4 times a week.
If you store more than the average female bear, you should avoid simple carbs like sugar, white pasta and white breads completely. Don’t avoid carbs completely, just avoid the junk food.
Fat stored in the abdomen is a sign of excess cortisol. Stress, lack of sleep and overtraining can all contribute to rises in cortisol levels. Find ways to reduce stress and get more sleep to help you win the fight against tummy fat. Incorporate resistance training into your workout routine.
Puffy arms can indicate low testosterone levels. Increasing resistance training with heavier weights and HIIT can help boost your test levels. Eating foods with omega-3 fats can help combat fat arms. Supplementing with fish oil can help, too.
Diet and Exercise Can Reduce Fat in Women’s Trouble Spots
It’s not the ending most people want to hear, but it’s the right one. Diet and exercise is key to losing weight, period. Men and women will always hold fat differently because of hormones.
Eat complex carbs, lean meats and veggies. Avoid too much red meat, simple carbs and dairy. Supplement with natural amino acids that burn fat and build muscle, too. Cover all angles when it comes to finding the source of stubborn fat and snuffing it out.
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