Weight Loss for Women Made Simple!
When it comes to weight loss for women, sometimes it seems like the more we learn about food, the more complicated the issue becomes. On one hand, eating for weight loss is a deeply complex matter, because it goes so much deeper than carbs and fat. There are hydrogenated oils to be considered, GMOs to be aware of, mono and diglycerides to learn about. So it’s no wonder so many women are seeking the silver bullet, asking me to topline it for them as simply as possible: “What’s the key to weight loss for women? Just tell us!
Of course, there is no silver bullet when it comes to weight loss for women. If there was one, we wouldn’t still be asking this question. But while there isn’t one simple quickfix, there are some universal truths – some basic, overarching guidelines to weight loss for women that we can easily incorporate into our everyday lives. Here are the biggies:
1. Say hello to HIIT.
High-intensity interval training (or HIIT) is a must for women and weight loss, because it helps transform our bodies into fat-burning engines. Think of it as the tiger of aerobic workouts (whereas traditional slow-and-steady exercise is a friendly kitten). Instead of a slow-and-steady approach to workouts, you intersperse your efforts with bursts of speed and power. A study published in the Journal of Obesity suggested that this is the most effective type of exercise for weight loss and shedding abdominal fat. So on your next walk, try it: Walk at a nice steady state for 2 minutes. (On a scale of 1-10, 1 being no effort and 10 being going-for-broke, you’re at a comfortable 5.) Then, ramp it up to a level 8 for one minute, where you’re focused, determined, and working too hard to carry on a casual conversation. Slow it back down to a 5 or 6, and repeat this cycle three times.
2. Balance your blood sugar.
You always hear blood sugar being discussed for people with diabetes, but it’s also a major factor when it comes to weight loss for women. If we don’t balance our blood sugar, our bodies are on a roller coaster. It’s a little bit like having an unsteady stock market inside your body: When you’re on that roller coaster, your blood glucose levels rise and fall dramatically before and after meals – and the more frequently you allow your body to go on that roller coaster, the more you’ve set yourself up for sluggish energy, weight gain, and even the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. But balancing that blood sugar helps you counteract all that, so that you can stay energized, avoid unhealthy cravings, and lose weight and keep it off. And how do we do that? Well, that brings me to the next point:
3. When you eat is as important as what you eat.
It all starts the moment you wake up, when you make your first food choice of the day, that determines whether you’re putting your body on that roller coaster, or you’re keeping blood sugar balanced. This is a two-parter:
- First, do not skip breakfast. And make sure that breakfast always includes good sources of both fiber and protein. Both fiber and protein help you slow down digestion, so you can avoid blood sugar spikes, stay energized, and curb cravings so that you feel fuller longer. And this rule doesn’t just apply to breakfast – you want to include fiber and protein at every meal and snack. Good sources of fiber include: Steel cut oats, black beans, berries (fresh or frozen), apples, oranges, and of course, veggies, the greener the better (kale, spinach, and broccoli are three of the all-stars). And the key with protein is to make sure it’s a high source of protein but a low source of saturated fat – so aim for egg whites, whey protein, fish, and lean cuts of poultry and meat.
- And the second point here about timing is to eat smaller meals more often throughout the day. Instead of having 3 large meals a day, break it up and have a smaller meal every 3-4 hours. This helps keep your metabolism humming (and of course, the higher your metabolism, the easier it is for you to burn fat and lose weight), and it helps keep your appetite at bay, so when it comes to mealtime, your body isn’t in starvation mode and you’re able to make healthier choices more easily.
4. Shoot For Progress, Not Perfection.
Rather than dive-bomb for quick results, aim for real results. A recent article about weight loss relapses from ACSM (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise) talked about the 3-5 year phenomenon, because that’s usually the cycle women follow on a weight loss plan before relapsing. And studies suggest that keeping a regular journal of your exercise and eating progress is a major determining factor when it comes to weight loss success. So keep track of your progress, however small it may seem. Starting small, in fact, might just be the key for you. So instead of trying a complete, 180-degree full-body overhaul overnight, just pick one new habit to practice – for example, upping your water intake. Focus on that habit for a week, and once you’ve mastered it and it’s started to become second nature, move on to the next goal.
5. Combat Stress.
Weight loss for women can seem like a Catch 22: If you’re stressed out about weight loss, you’re more likely to turn to food and emotional eating as a source of temporary comfort. Not to mention that chronic stress is linked to high cortisol levels, a hormone that causes unhealthy cravings and can lead to weight gain, especially in the mid-section. Lowering cortisol through relaxation, deep breathing and exercise doesn’t just help quiet those stressful voices in our heads; it’s also a key to weight loss for women. So next time you feel yourself spiraling into the stress zone, remember: A nice, long deep breath really does the body good.