Have you tried to lose weight, but it feels like nothing more than an uphill battle? Do you diet for weeks only to end up losing a pound or two? Does your male partner or friend seem to shed pounds quickly by doing next to nothing?
There are reasons for those frustrations.
While diet and exercise are important for weight loss, other factors can have an impact and make it more difficult for you to lose those last few stubborn pounds, no matter what you seem to do.
As a woman, it’s important to understand those factors so you can lose weight in a healthy, effective way. Learning more about how your body works from the inside out will make it easier to nourish it the right way, and eventually get to your ideal body weight.
Image credit: Total Shape
Why It Can Be Uniquely Difficult for Women to Lose Weight
So, why does it seem so hard to lose a significant amount of weight, even if you’re dieting?
It starts by looking at other areas of your life. It’s a difficult pill to swallow, but it’s often harder for women to lose weight and easier for them to gain weight than men. As a result, severe obesity is more prominent in women than men. That’s due to several risk factors women possess, including:
- Reduced or poor sleep
- Artificial light at night
- Environments that have limited access to healthy foods
- Sex hormones
- Mental health
Stress can also play a large role in weight gain, especially for women. When you’re under a lot of stress, your body releases hormones that make you feel hungry. So, you’re more likely to overeat because it makes you feel better. If you’ve ever heard the term “stress-eating,” it usually refers to someone indulging in too much food or comfort food that isn’t necessarily good for them.
While men can certainly face some of these issues, women tend to have a lot more pressure put on them to look a certain way and to stay “thin,” especially when it comes to things like an upcoming wedding or dropping baby weight quickly. That kind of stress and pressure combined with those other unique factors can lead to a perfect storm of weight loss difficulties.
You Are What You Eat
Diet certainly does play a role in weight loss. But, simply doing things like cutting carbs or going on a “fad diet” isn’t likely going to produce the long-term results you want. Instead, you need to focus on how to nourish your body.
Women’s nutritional needs are different than men’s. Beyond that, what your body needs to maintain a healthy weight might be different from the woman next to you. Can that be a bit confusing? Yes. But, it’s about finding that perfect balance of what your body needs in terms of calories and nutrients. You should be eating for your overall health, not only with weight loss in mind. For example, women tend to need more of the following in their diets than men:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B9
Your nutritional needs will change throughout your life due to everything from pregnancy and breastfeeding to aging and menopause. By understanding those needs and focusing on your overall nutrition, losing weight can become easier, and you won’t fall victim to any “quick fixes” or fad diets that deprive you of the things you enjoy.
Understand the Impact of Hormones
Do you ever feel like you’re doing everything right to lose weight, and you still can’t seem to shed those pounds?
Blame your hormones.
Hormones can impact almost every function of the body, including stress, hunger, and the ability to maintain muscle. They can also make it easier or more difficult to lose body fat. As a woman, several hormones can impact your weight loss journey. Understanding how they work and how to regulate them can make a difference in how easy it is for you to lose the weight you want.
The two most important hormones in your journey are estrogen and progesterone. These are sex hormones, but they’re responsible for appetite regulation, metabolism, and eating behaviors. Have you ever wondered why you seem to crave unhealthy foods or eat more during PMS? It’s largely due to the increased production of estrogen.
Cortisol plays another large role. It’s often referred to as the “stress hormone”. While we touched on the impact of stress above, understanding cortisol’s part makes it easier to see how the two connect. When you’re chronically stressed, your cortisol levels rise. That increases your appetite, reduces muscle mass, and can contribute to a build-up of belly fat.
While your hormones naturally fluctuate, there are things you can do to regulate them naturally that can make it easier to lose weight, including:
- Getting on a consistent sleep schedule
- Managing stress levels
- Eating more protein
- Decreasing sugar intake
By focusing on a well-balanced diet, moving your body, and even taking supplements for nutrients you could be lacking, you can balance your hormones safely and healthily, and start to see better results on your weight loss journey.
While weight loss can often feel like a struggle, it’s not impossible when you take a closer look at the science behind it, and how it specifically impacts women. Keep these tips in mind as you move forward on your weight loss journey, and you might start to notice it’s easier to lose those pesky pounds while improving your overall health.