It’s no secret that men and women are different, particularly when it comes to weight loss. Guys tend to lose weight faster than women. They can eat more calories and because of their natural fat-blasting muscle mass, burn those calories off quicker.
As a woman, you need a plan to lose weight that is tailored to YOU. We’ve dug into some research and compiled these science-backed weight loss tips that work especially well for women.
Check out these eight tips for women’s weight loss, based on the science of women’s bodies.
1. Marry exercise to your diet.
Neither diet nor exercise alone was as successful as they were together in helping 439 women lose weight in a study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The women who dieted and exercised for 45 minutes a day lost 11 percent of their starting weight (a mean loss of almost 20 pounds!), while those who only dieted lost 18 pounds and those who only exercised shed only 4.4 pounds, according to the 2011 study published in the journal, Obesity.
2. Lift weights.
You don’t have to go all Arnold Schwarzenegger, but you want to include some weight lifting or resistance training in your exercise regime. That’s what builds those muscles that help you burn calories more efficiently. A set of weights or resistance bands, used twice a week, is all you really need. And you don’t even need those! Floor exercises in which you must lift your body weight, such as push-ups, lunges and squats, will also build fat-burning muscle.
3. Don’t skip meals.
At first it may seem to make sense: If you skip a meal, you’ll be eating fewer calories, so you’ll probably lose more weight. But that kind of logic doesn’t pass real-world muster. In fact, in one 2012 study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers looked at meal patterns in overweight and obese women. Those who passed on a meal lost eight fewer pounds than those who didn’t. The real logic is that skipping meals sets you up for hunger and hunger triggers more eating, not less.
4. Use NuMi faithfully.
In the same study cited above, the women who kept food diaries lost six more pounds than those who didn’t. By keeping track of everything you eat in our official Nutrisystem companion app, NuMi, you’ll be forced to pay closer attention to your diet habits, and you’ll be less likely to get off track.
5. Practice mindful eating.
While you’re keeping track of what you’re eating, keep track of the physical and emotional sensations you experience around eating. Do you eat when you’re hungry or when “it’s time” to eat? What does hunger actually feel like to you? How can you tell when you’re full? It takes about 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to tell your body that you’ve had enough, which is one of the reasons many experts recommend you eat more slowly.
Does being under stress make you immediately think of eating? What could you do instead of reaching for a carb to help calm yourself down? In a 2011 study, published in the Journal of Obesity, women took classes in mindfulness meditation and stress reduction to help curb their stress eating. This helped them to be more mindful of their feelings and sensations at mealtime.
You may not need a class if you make a commitment to pay attention to your sensations and to practice the simplest of all stress reduction techniques: deep breathing. Take a deep breath from your chest, allowing the air to expand your lungs and abdomen. Hold for four seconds, then release slowly for four seconds as if you’re fogging a window. Repeat.
6. Pack a lunch.
Eating out a lot is a diet killer. You have little to no control over the ingredients and cooking process for your restaurant meal. But, according to one study, one restaurant meal in particular should be avoided: lunch.
Researchers followed 123 overweight/obese women for a year to assess their dietary and behavioral patterns. They found that those who ate out for lunch weekly lost fewer pounds than those who ate out less frequently. Restaurant dining in general was associated with less weight loss, but lunch stood out as the main culprit. (The other cause of less weight loss in the study? Skipping meals!)
Instead of running out for lunch, consider packing your own healthier option. Nutrisystem makes nutritious and delicious versions of all of your lunchtime favorites. They’re perfectly portioned for weight loss and delivered right to your door. Explore our menu and stock up on healthy lunches! >
You can also find plenty of tasty and healthy lunch recipes right here on The Leaf Weight Loss Blog. Check out our recipe section! >
7. Make use of support.
If you’ve joined Nutrisystem, you’ve already done one thing that seems to make a big difference in the weight loss efforts of women. A small study done at Yale School of Nursing looked at a group of women who had lost 10 percent of their body weight and kept it off for at least a year. They found that most of the successful losers—and all the maintainers—had joined a weight loss program that offered support. The maintainers were more aware of their trigger foods, portion sizes and they exercised regularly. They also accepted that maintaining their healthy lifestyle is a lifelong commitment.
Have you taken advantage of your Nutrisystem weight loss coaches yet? They’re available by phone, online chat or via email seven days a week.
8. Get enough sleep.
If you’re trying to lose weight, not getting enough sleep can foil your best efforts. First, daytime fatigue sets you up to seek out high-fat or sweet snacks to boost your energy. It can seriously scramble your appetite hormones so the one that tells you that you’re hungry (ghrelin) works overtime, while the one that tells you that you’re full (leptin) gets way too quiet.
Poor sleep can even affect whether you burn fat or not. A study, conducted at the University of Chicago Research Center, found that dieters who didn’t get enough sleep and those who were well-rested lost the same amount of weight. But among the well-rested dieters, more than half of the weight that was lost came from fat. The sleepy dieters? Only a quarter of the weight they lost came from fat. The rest came from muscle mass which, as you know, women can’t afford to lose.