From an evolutionary standpoint, women were built for childbearing. Unlike men, women have survival techniques that are unique to their bodies in order to prepare them for growing another human. While this is a beautiful and miraculous trait, it comes with some conditions that specifically come into play when we are talking performance and body composition.
The human body is quite unique and knows how to maintain homeostasis. It knows what it needs. A woman’s body must have enough vital nutrients and the right structure to have a smooth pregnancy. Bigger hips and a tendency for fat storage are a few of these obvious traits.
Once at the age of childbearing, a woman’s body will begin to make sure it has enough fat to feed a baby. DHA, a brain developing nutrient, is usually found in these fat stores, a technique the body uses to save enough of this nutrient for breastfeeding a newborn. This is extremely important for any baby, but can result in unwanted fat retention for women currently not trying to have kids.
Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it’s optimal for everyone or everything at all times. Depending on your goals, the female metabolism “naturally” seems counterproductive to many of our goals and ideals when it comes to body composition. But there is a way to use this knowledge to your advantage and get your metabolism to work for you! You can achieve the goals you want in a healthy way, regardless of your hormonal and genetic predisposition.
Let’s circle back to DHA and fat storage. We talked about how crucial this is in a woman’s body during pregnancy. You get DHA from consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids. This is commonly found in foods like salmon, flax seeds, and chia. Since the body is already hardwired to store fat, this is a very important time to focus on the quality of fats in the diet. Omega-3’s are not only key for brain and eye development-they also play a key role in the body’s inflammatory response.
If you consume a diet high in inflammatory fats you this will results in more fat storage. Get the right amount of fats by increasing Omega 3 consumption so your body knows it has enough to meet its needs.
Next, balance your hormones. Eat a clean and nutritious diet, manage your stress levels with yoga, meditation etc, and talk with your doctor about any hormonal imbalances you may have. Having too much estrogen circulating in your body is just as bad as not enough, so get some tests done and work with your doctor to find a solution. A lot of the time, hormonal imbalances stem from nutritional issues and chronic conditions like chronic inflammation and stress.
Lastly, don’t be afraid of the heavy weights. Muscle development will help you shape up and lose fat. The more muscle you have, the more fuel your body will need to burn each day. This will let your body handle carbs better, using them to fuel your muscles, rather than store them as fat. A body with more muscle is like a car with a bigger engine: it will burn more fuel! As you start lifting weights, you’ll notice changes in body measurements as you swap out fat for muscle.
These tips not only shape your body into a fat burning machine, but they’re going to help with your performance level. Having the right body composition, muscle mass and good nutrition will improve your performance in the gym or in training. Have fun designing the body of your dreams!