2. Women And Men Burn (And Store) Body Fat Differently
Women rely on fat for fuel during exercise to a much greater degree than men. This makes exercise absolutely essential for women to lose fat because of the unfortunate fact that women burn much less fat at rest.
In addition, women store fat right below the skin (subcutaneously), whereas men have more visceral fat. Visceral fat is metabolically active and a risk for cardiovascular health and insulin resistance. Meanwhile, for women, having a reasonable amount of lower body fat indicates better health and less heart disease risk!
Women tend to lose fat from the upper body first, but have a harder time losing lower body fat. As mentioned in #1, women’s bodies preferentially store fat for pregnancy, but they also have a greater number of alpha receptors in this region than men. The combination of alpha receptors and estrogen inhibits the loss of fat. Men have a higher total proportion of beta receptors, which makes it easier for them to mobilize fat to burn it off.
To get rid of stubborn lower body fat, research shows women must perform anaerobic training. For example, a recent study found that by adding a strength program to an aerobic exercise protocol produced superior fat loss. Women who did concurrent training lost 12.2 percent of fat mass from the legs, decreased hip circumference by 4 percent, and lost 9.7 percent of the original body fat.
In contrast, the women who did aerobic training lost 5.7 percent fat mass from the legs, decreased hip circumference by 4 percent, and lost 5 percent of their original body fat.
Scientists suggest that the higher intensity of resistance exercise helps to stimulate the release of body fat from fat cells so that it can be burned for energy. In addition, it’s possible (though not definitive) that estrogen has a positive effect on fat burning during exercise via a few mechanisms:
• Estrogen appears to limit the breakdown of triglycerides in the blood stream for storage.
• Estrogen enhances epinephrine production for greater fat burning.
• Estrogen stimulates growth hormone, which plays a role in fat metabolism and stimulates blood flow.
What To Do About It?
Perform strength training, favoring multi-joint exercises, with a focus on lower body and total body lifts such as squats, deadlifts, step ups, and lunges. Do high-intensity interval training on a track, bike, or by pushing a sled to target the alpha receptors and enhance fat loss from the lower body.