Eating more fat to lose fat! When setting up an effective nutrition plan there is a variety of factors you need to be factoring in: Lifestyle, Height, Current Body Composition, Allergies, Medical Conditions, Training, Goals and something often overlooked your sex.
There is quite a lot of research on the effects of training with optimising women’s hormones, for example different stages of the menstrual cycle can be taken advantage for women with increasing performance & recovery.
However, there isn’t quite as much research around the effects of nutrition requirements between male & female. Let’s dive into some reasons why women need to eat more fat to burn more fat.
Estrogen & Body Fat
The two main female hormones estrogen and progesterone have an effect on carbohydrate & fats metabolism and will utilise fat more than carbohydrates during a lower form of intensity with exercise.
For this reason with women having much higher amounts of these two hormones, allows them to rely on fat for energy more than men.
Generally at different stages of the menstrual cycle, in particular the follicular & ovulation phases, women can also utilise increasing carbohydrates and take advantage of more effective strength & performance through a higher amount of carbohydrates – glycogen stores.
You can learn more about effective training with hormone & recovery optimisation here, however remember this is far down on your priority list compared to other areas of a physique transformation.
Respiratory Exchange Ratio & Energy Sources
Generally a higher RER (Respiratory Exchange Ratio), your body will primarily rely more on carbohydrate sources for energy, and if it’s lower then the preference shifts to fats. An RER value of 0.85 is considered equal to balance carbs & fats.
Recent studies have shown that women have a lower RER value than men during lower & higher intensity exercise. These findings suggest that women’s bodies prefer to utilize fat and few carbs during exercise.
Intramuscular Fat Stores In Women
Research also shows that women have more intramuscular fat stores that are primarily replied on during prolonged exercise than men. And this can be explained by women having larger amounts of type I than type II muscle fibers, type I muscle fibers have more intramuscular fat stores than type II.
Triacylglycerol lipase (HSL) also exists in higher quantities within type I fibers, and this will also contribute to breaking down intramuscular fat stores with women.
Overall Findings And Wrap Up
Factoring in all the current research, their is still so much more needed to discover more significant differences with nutritional needs between men & women.
The current findings are that women are highly capable of utilising fat for energy with slower / low intensity training phases. As a minimum women should be trying to get at least 20% of there total daily calories from healthy fat sources, here is a few sources which I provide my clients:
- Unrefined Organic Coconut Oils
- Extra Virgin Olive Oils
Something we definitely do know is that from an evolutionary stand point, women do store more fat throughout their bodies than men – and having adequate amounts of fats in your diet will coincide with maintaining optimal health, provide sufficient energy and ultimately benefit body composition results.
- D’eon, T., & Braun, B. (2002). The roles of estrogen and progesterone in regulating carbohydrate and fat utilization at rest and during exercise. Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-Based Medicine, 11(3), 225-237.
- Venables, M. C., Achten, J., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2005). Determinants of fat oxidation during exercise in healthy men and women: a cross-sectional study. Journal of Applied Physiology, 98(1), 160-167.
- Steffensen, C.H, Roepstorff, C., Madsen, M. et al. (2002). Myocellular triacylglycerol breakdown in females but not in males during exercise. American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism, 282, E634-E642.
- Wu, A. H., Pike, M. C., & Stram, D. O. (1999). Meta-analysis: dietary fat intake, serum estrogen levels, and the risk of breast cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 91(6), 529-534.
- Ellis, G. S., Lanza-Jacoby, S. U. S. A. N., Gow, A. N. D. R. E. W., & Kendrick, Z. V. (1994). Effects of estradiol on lipoprotein lipase activity and lipid availability in exercised male rats. Journal of Applied Physiology, 77(1), 209-215.
- Phelain, J. F., Reinke, E., Harris, M. A., & Melby, C. L. (1997). Postexercise energy expenditure and substrate oxidation in young women resulting from exercise bouts of different intensity. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 16(2), 140-146.