Monday, March 21, 2011
1 Reason For Slow Female Fat Loss and 5 Tips To Fix It
Article By Tom Venuto
You may have heard (or realized first hand!), that it’s more difficult for women to lose fat than men. Differences in male and female hormones are certainly involved - both in the fat loss process as well as in the patterns of fat storage on the body. But the biggest obstacle is NOT hormonal issues, it’s one little fat loss relativity factor that almost all women overlook…
That factor is the simple fact that women are usually smaller and lighter than men, yet they err by setting their goals and designing their nutrition plans like men or larger women.
This especially applies to short and petite women who still have body fat to lose.
Case in point: Last week I received an email from a female reader who told me she was doing 3 weight training and 6 cardio sessions per week and the cardio was 45 minutes at a clip.
She said she weighed 111 lbs at 4 feet 11 inches tall, but even though she was petite, she had “several pounds of flab” she wanted to lose and just felt kind of “mushy.”
She had been really inspired by the success stories on the Burn the Fat websites, especially the finalists in our Burn the Fat transformation challenge.
But she said she was starting to get discouraged because she was losing so much slower than everyone else, it seemed.
First I asked her if she knew her body fat percentage. It may seem odd, but it’s possible to be a so-called “ideal” body weight and have high body fat and low lean body mass. That’s called “normal weight obesity” or in the popular vernacular, “skinny fat”). With the prevalence of body image disorders today, (and lets face it, the mirror plays tricks on us all), it’s especially important to understand and objectively measure body composition.
Having confirmed that she did actually have body fat to lose, even though she wasn’t overweight, here’s what I told her:
When you have a smaller body, you have lower calorie needs. When you have lower calorie needs, your relative deficit (20%, 30% etc) gives you a smaller absolute deficit and therefore you lose fat more slowly than someone who is larger and can create a larger deficit more easily.
Here’s an example for a man
Me: I’m male, 5’ 8”, a lean 192 lbs and very active:
* Daily calorie maintenance level: 3300 calories a day
* 20% calorie deficit = cut out 660 calories
* Optimal calorie intake for fat loss: 2640 calories a day
* On paper predicted fat loss: 1.3 lbs of wt loss per week
At 2640 calories per day, I’d drop fat rather painlessly. If I bumped up my calorie burn or decreased my intake by another 340 a day, that would be enough to give me 2 lbs per week wt loss. Either way, that’s hardly a starvation diet (Ah, the joys of being a man).
For smaller women, the math equation is very different.
At only 4 foot 11 inches tall and 111 lbs, a female’s numbers would look like this:
* Daily maintenance level 1930 calories (even at a moderately active exercise level).
* 20% deficit would = 386 calories
* Optimal intake for fat loss 1544 calories a day
* On paper predicted fat loss only 8/10th of a lb of fat loss/wk.
If you took a more aggressive calorie deficit of 30%, that’s a 579 calorie deficit which would now drop the calorie intake to 1351 calories/day.
That’s pretty low in calories. However, you would still have a fairly small calorie deficit. In fact, I would get to eat twice as many calories (2600 vs 1300 per day) and I’d still get almost twice the weekly rate of fat loss!
I know, this isn’t “fair,” but it doesn’t mean women can’t get as lean as they want to be. It means that on average, women will drop fat slower than men. It also means women with small bodies will lose fat more slowly than larger women.
What to do about it?
5 TIPS FOR FEMALE FAT LOSS
#1 Set a goal that’s realistic relative to your gender, body size and weight. ONE POUND a week of fat loss is much more in line with a realistic goal for a small-framed female. Overweight people can lose it faster. Men can drop it faster.
#2: Weigh and measure all your food any time you feel you’re stuck at a plateau, just to be sure. When your calorie expenditure is on the low side, you don’t have much margin for error. One extra pastry, muffin or handful of cookies and ZAP, your little 20% calorie deficit is GONE!
#3: Remember that body fat and body weight are NOT the same thing. Judge your progress on body composition. (I teach how to measure your body fat and lean body mass in the privacy of your own home as part of my Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle Program).
#4: Keep a weekly progress chart for weight, body fat percentage, pounds of fat and pounds of lean body mass. Water weight and lean body mass gains can mask fat loss so it’s possible to make progress even though the scale isn’t moving. Pay special attention to the progress trend over time.
#5: Burn more calories from the time you already spend in the gym. Suggestions: Make 2 or 3 of your long cardio sessions higher in intensity so you burn more calories in the same or even less time. Set up your weight training with big compound exercise and brief rest intervals so you burn more calories from strength training as well.
When I first shared this information with my readers, some women told me that all this did was get them depressed or prompt them to reply, "it's not fair!" Well, no it's not fair. But "Better the hard truth than a comforting fantasy," as Carl Sagan once said.
Look at it this way: This information should not be depressing - it should be encouraging and empowering to you because this "hard truth" helps shorter/ smaller women understand how to set realistic goals and know exactly what to to do to reach them: You have to stay very active, train hard, BURN a lot of calories instead of just dieting, and you will reach any goal. It just takes a little patience.
Dropping only ONE pound per week (or less) may seem excruciatingly slow, but even if you get a HALF a pound a week fat loss, that’s still progress. Celebrate it. Keep that up over time, and you will reach your goal. Persistence pays.
Your friend and coach,
Fat Loss Coach
Here is the link to the entire article:
Monday, March 21, 2011
Can Carb Cycling Increase Your Fat Loss?
Q & A with Tom Venuto
female fat lossQ: Tom, I'm following your Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM) program and using the carb cycling (aka zig zag) method. How long should it take to see results from cycling the carbs? I am just on my fourth day but I am curious as to what to expect. I am starting out with the basic guideline of 3 days low 1 day high and the macronutrient ratios suggested in BFFM. I am wondering how long to give it before knowing if I have to tweak the ratios. I am 5"2" and weigh 124 lbs. My beginning weight, 22 months ago, was 176 lbs. Now I'm trying your carb cycling method to shed the last of the stubborn fat that's "hanging" around.
A: When you've just started carb cycling and you're wondering if it will work, when it will start working, how long it will take to work and what kind of results you can expect, you should be looking for the same kind of results you normally would.
If you have the burn the fat ebook or have read any of my articles about weekly fat loss goals, you'll usually see me quote figures like this:
Average/Typical Fat Loss
1/2% body fat per week
1-2 lbs of body weight per week
Less Than Average/Typical Fat Loss (But it's Progress)
Less than 1/2% body fat lost per week is a bit slow, but you made progress. Good job, but you could crank things up a bit for the next week.
Less than 1 lb lost per week - is slow, but if kept up consistently, again, it's still progress. Tighten things up if you want faster results.
Better Than Average/Typical Fat Loss
More than 2 lbs per week - if it's all body fat - is better than average (great results)
0.6% to 1.0% body fat lost per week is faster than typical fat loss (keep up the good work)
No Progress (Needs Some Tweaking)
No weight/fat loss or no drop in body fat% lost after 7 days means no forward progress (assuming your weigh in and body fat test was correctly performed).
If you go 7 days with no progress, you must re-analyze your compliance for the last week (did you stick with it? Be brutally honest). Then tweak your approach - chapter 4 in BFFM gives guidelines on doing this - it's called our feedback loop system).
So basically we're not looking for any different kind of results with carb cycling. This isn't "magic." It's not necessarily going to give you better than average fat loss.
The carb cycling is probably most helpful at "end-stage" plateaus when your fat loss has started stalling due to metabolic slowdown. It also helps when you're experiencing poor compliance because you've been deprived of calories and or your favorite foods (carbs). In either case, carb cycling can "increase" your fat loss by getting your fat loss back up to normal.
Also remember that without a calorie deficit, carb cycling doesn't guarantee you will lose fat at all. In fact, think about what happens to your weekly deficit with carb cycling:
If you were on a deficit 4 out of every 4 days and then you go to deficit 3 out of every 4 days, then technically you have a smaller cumulative weekly deficit don't you? So you can see that carb cycling /zig zagging doesn't work by increasing a calorie deficit, it works by restoring metabolism-regulating, appetite-stimulating, satiety-inducing and anti-starvation hormones back to normal levels.
The problem with prolonged deficits, especially after you are already lean, is that your body really does slow down the metabolism a bit, and even tricks you by increasing appetite. Both of these effects can be controlled hormonally.
By raising calories (carbohydrate calories in particular) every 4th day or so, you stimulate hormones like leptin, which is an anti starvation hormone. This tells the body you are no longer "starving" and brings metabolism comes back to normal, at least temporarily.
What carb cycling is really doing is not accelerating fat loss, but allowing you to lose fat like you normally would (or, it helps to prevent those plateaus from happening in the first place).
Carb cycling also has psychological benefits.
When you're on low calories all the time, you get physiologically (hormonally) hungry. But you also get cravings, which can be different than physical hunger. You tend to crave what you cant have (carbs anyone?).
But if you use carb cycling, you know you get to eat more every several days and you get to eat carbs. So even if you do feel some hunger/cravings on the low days, it's easier to hold out. This is how carb cycling also helps most people with compliance.
The end result is you avoid plateaus and falls off the wagon (overeating, binges, "unauthorized" cheating, etc).
Carb cycling and body re-composition
A possible third benefit of carb cycling is that it may explain how some people add lean body mass while in a calorie deficit. That's because when you're raising calories every several days you're actually NOT always in a deficit, and your body is given more fuel on "high days", which could be directed into muscle tissue for growth.
The extra fuel also makes for more intense training, and if you can train harder, you can build more muscle and burn more fat.
What if carb cycling isn't working for you?
If you've been carb cycling and it doesn't seem to be working, it's sometimes for the same reason as if you weren't carb cycling - you didn't get your calories quite right and you weren't in a deficit.
That's one reason I'm partial to controlled refeeds or "high carb days" rather than (non-counting) free-for-all cheat days. While the latter approach works for some, it can backfire if you go overboard, and it's quite easy to cut into (or erase) a few days of deficit with one giant binge.
If you hit a plateau (no change for at least 7 days), it's helpful to count calories carefully and weigh/ measure foods. Any time you are struggling with results or simply just working on the last few pounds of fat in the stubborn areas, the attention to detail at that point is more important than ever.
Another thing you might want to do is start tracking a number that most people don't consider: your weekly deficit (or weekly average daily caloric intake). Add up your calories every day for the entire 7 day week and divide by 7 for a daily average. Then make sure you have an adequate weekly deficit to reach your weekly goal.
Getting better results out of carb cycling may require being more strict on the low carb days. When you're carb cycling, in general, the whole idea is that the low carb days ARE very strict "diet" days and sometimes with a fairly aggressive calorie deficit - 30% below maintenance (and sometimes people even push the envelope and go even lower on low days, knowing that they have a big refeed coming up.
Making Sure You've Got Your Calories Set Properly
When you think about setting your calories for both high and low days, I want to refer you to a recent article I wrote about customizing calories for your body size:
1 Reason For Slow Female Fat Loss and 5 Tips To Fix It
You may not like the message in this article because it doesn't seem "fair" (to smaller people), but it may also make a light bulb go off that will keep you consuming the right amount of calories for you: Smaller people don't need as many calories. Someone who is 5' 2" and 124, may still want to lose fat, even though she is not a big person.
This would apply to short/ small framed guys too, but it affects women the most, since they are on average, much smaller than men.
Keep in mind, this important point (small women can't eat very many calories or carbs compared to big people), applies whether you are carb cycling or not - you have to get the calories right for your body type / body size / activity level. And if you really want to eat more, the only way is to burn more.
Watch Out - The Scale Plays Tricks On You When Carb Cycling
One last thing to consider: Suppose you are trying to asses your results after day 4, wondering when it is going to start working.
One thing about carb cycling that many people don't account for is the swing in body weight due to glycogen and water. With 3 strict days of lower carb, lower calorie eating, you may actually have already accrued a pound of fat loss. But then you carb up on day 4. Your body composition has improved, but the carb up makes you gain total body weight (water and glycogen).
If you only judge your success by the scale and if you only look at short term (daily) numbers, you may be misled into thinking you were not successful when you really were.
For that reason, you must have patience, watch the trend over time and avoid obsessed with short term fluctuations in body weight especially on high carb day and or the day after high carb day.
Once you have an understanding of all the above factors, and you've been carb cycling without getting weekly results, then do the same things to break the plateau that you'd normally do - including increasing the calorie burn from training/ cardio and or decreasing the calories.
The one thing you'd do that's unique to carb cycling is on your low carb days, a tweak you might make to break a plateau is to simply make the low days even lower in carbs (that means lower in calories, but you are specifically lowering the calories from carbs... leaving the protein, healthy fats and fibrous carbs/veggies alone).
Then just repeat the process as per our burn the fat, feed the muscle progress charting and feedback loop system which is detailed in chapter 4 of the BFFM ebook.
To see the complete carb cycling system, get the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle ebook from: www.BurnTheFat.com/order.html . You'll find the cycling method first introduced in chapter 6 and you'll see the entire carb cycling system laid out for you in chapter 12.
Your friend and coach,
Fat Loss Coach
Link to the article:
Thursday, March 17, 2011
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I posted this awhile back but I thought it was worth re-visiting... This is guy is wonderful... people were a bit skeptical at first...
Please click on the link, I think you will enjoy it, it did!
... oh and...
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