In Part 1 of this series, we covered everything but the hormones. But now it’s time for the million dollar estrogen question: do female hormones make it harder for women to lose weight? And if they do, what can you do about it? In this article, we’ll look at the pro- and anti-fat effects of estrogen (yes, there are both!), what this means for weight loss, and how diet can affect estrogen levels in various ways.
First, does being in nutritional ketosis necessarily cause weight loss? For individuals who have experienced fairly rapid weight loss with little effort, their answer is usually a resounding yes! But remember that this is typically based on one person’s experience (or one person and a few of his/her friends). This commonly happens in a person who is relatively insulin sensitive, so that when that individual gets to their new stable (‘maintenance’) weight, they probably did not need to remain in nutritional ketosis—i.e., they could eat a wider range of total daily carbs and still remain weight stable. So in that person’s experience, it looks like nutritional ketosis caused their weight loss and it stopped when they ate enough carbs to go out of nutritional ketosis. In scientific terms, we need to decide if this is a causal relationship, or just an association.
Although many studies recommended gradual WL diets for obese patients, many people would like to lose their excess weight in the shortest time (12). A significant number of people believe that rapid WL has side effects and cannot have beneficial clinical effects similar to slow WL. However, a systematic review found that people, who follow severe calorie-restricted diets will not have an eating disorder and will be able to maintain their lost weight (13). Several studies have shown that rapid WL with high calorie-restriction could cause an improvement of clinical state in obese individuals (14, 15).
We all want a toned, flat stomach. No surprise there. But since many women are still relying on crunches to get it, we want to make one thing clear: Crunching is not the most effective abs workout. "Crunches work only the muscles on the front and sides of your abdomen, but it's important to target all the muscles of the core to get more defined abs—including lower back, hips, and upper thighs," says Lou Schuler, co-author of The New Rules of Lifting for Abs. (Also try these 20 tricks for engaging your core and getting a sneaky abs workout.)
Consider liposuction. Liposuction is a surgical option for fast, targeted weight loss, generally only recommended for people with one or two specific areas of highly fatty tissue but otherwise relatively healthy body weight. Because it is a surgical procedure, it carries significant health risks and should only be performed by a licensed professional.
Keto. Flexitarian. Paleo. Whole 30. Vegan. There are as many diets in existence as there are dangerous weight loss myths. So which eating style should you choose when you’re on a get-fit-quick and have just 10 days? Turns out, numerous studies have found it essentially doesn’t matter which plan you follow for rapid weight loss, be it low-carb or low-fat, as long as you’re eating fewer calories than you’re burning. The key is that it’s sustainable: a strategy that you can keep up for the week and a half—and beyond.
Because men are larger than women on average and have more muscle to support, men can usually eat more calories while still losing weight, compared to women. Portion control may be especially important for women. In one study, women who ate smaller portions of food (and less food overall) had lower BMIs than women who limited or avoided a certain type of food.2 This approach seems to work better for women than men.3