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Fat Loss for Women: 12 Ways to Hack Your Biology

By: Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

fat loss for women

Fat loss for women isn't always easy. But it is possible! Especially if you know some tips and tricks on how to hack your biology.

Understanding how fat storage works is a crucial step in fat loss.

When you eat foods, your body breaks them down into smaller components that get absorbed, used, and sometimes stored by your body.

If you eat more calories than your body can use, the remainder is stored as glycogen in muscles and your liver – or as body fat.

The key to effective fat loss for women is to burn more calories than you consume in a day!

There are numerous ways you can do this.

Learn how to avoid the weight loss setbacks that are inherent to women by adopting these simple strategies for fat loss for women!

Here's how to use positive and negative feedback loops to stay on track with nutritious eating and other healthy habits!

Ways to Hack Your Biology for Fat Loss in Women

The best way to burn fat is to follow a few strategies that make eating fewer calories (or burning extra calories) easier. Examples include:

Focus on Protein

Studies show that protein boosts satiety, or a feeling of fullness, more than carbohydrates or dietary fat.

Therefore, eating more protein helps reduce your overall food intake.

Protein also accelerates calorie burning within your body.

Why is this the case? One reason is that protein takes longer to digest than other nutrients and it helps you build or maintain muscle mass.

Muscle burns more calories than body fat, even when you’re resting!

To enhance fat loss for women, eat protein-rich foods at every meal or snack.

Examples include:

  • Lean chicken or turkey
  • Fish and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Tofu, seitan, or other plant protein foods
  • Veggie or black bean burgers
  • Low-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, milk, and reduced-fat cheese
  • Protein-fortified almond milk, soy milk, and other calcium-rich plant milks or yogurts
  • Protein supplements or bars
  • Peas, beans, lentils, and other legumes

Try protein shake or bar in place of a meal or as post-workout nourishment to enhance fat loss.

To create a homemade protein shake, simply blend together milk or plant milk, protein powder, fruit or nut butter, and ice!

How much protein do we need per day? Calculate your daily protein intake!

Add in Healthy Fats

Fats increase satiety too, especially when paired with protein foods.

It might seem counter-intuitive to eat dietary fat for body fat loss, but doing so is often an effective weight loss strategy.

Studies show that very high-fat (low-carb) ketogenic diets help reduce body fat, especially abdominal fat, without decreasing muscle mass.

Strict ketogenic diets can be difficult to follow long term.

However, you can try more liberal versions of keto diets for fat loss in women by reducing carbohydrates, especially from refined grains and added sugars, and boosting your consumption of heart-healthy fats such as:

  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Hummus
  • Fatty fish (salmon)
  • Olive oil
  • Other plant oils
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Nut butters

Make sure each meal or snack contains healthy fat plus protein-rich food to optimize fat loss results.

Eat More Fiber

Fiber stays in your digestive tract for a long time and keeps you full, and your body doesn’t fully digest or absorb it.

Studies show fiber is associated with lower body weights and body fat and helps prevent obesity.

Fiber is found in the following foods:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Peas, beans, lentils, and other legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds

The more plant foods you eat the higher your fiber intake will be.

Preserve the skin of fruits and vegetables, such as apples and cucumbers, before you eat them to keep fiber content high in your diet.

Studies show that taking fiber supplements enhances weight loss and is associated with smaller waist circumferences.

Ask your doctor which fiber supplements are right for you.

Eliminate Refined Carbohydrates

Fat loss for women involves eliminating certain carbohydrates from your diet.

Foods containing a lot of added sugar and other highly processed carbohydrates can cause blood sugar spikes and don’t fill you up like fiber-rich carbs, dietary fat, and protein do.

Examples of foods to eliminate when fat loss is your goal include:

  • White bread
  • Plain bagels
  • White rice
  • Regular pasta
  • Sweets
  • Sugary drinks
  • Baked goods

Instead, opt for starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, corn, peas, beans, lentils, and other legumes) or whole grains — such as brown rice, white rice, wild rice, quinoa, and oatmeal.

Choose fruit instead of foods with added sugar to curb sweet cravings.

What are the worst carbs to eat? These are the most important carbs to avoid for weight loss!

Create a 500- to 1,000-Calorie Deficit

By creating a 500-1,000 calorie deficit (burning 500-1,000 more calories than you eat in a day), you might lose about 1-2 pounds of body fat each week.

To create this type of calorie deficit, aim to reduce your current energy intake by 500, increase exercise by 500 calories daily, or combine these two methods.

A 155-pound woman expends about 500 calories using an elliptical trainer for 45 minutes or circuit training for 50 minutes.

Consume Caffeine

Caffeine is associated with reduced body weights, body mass index, and fat mass, according to numerous studies.

Caffeine helps boost your energy and is associated with increases in energy expenditure, or more calories burned throughout the day.

Some research shows that caffeine also helps decrease your food intake.

So how much caffeine is enough to enhance weight and fat loss?

According to a 2015 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, drinking 3 or more cups of coffee or tea daily is associated with lower BMI and waist circumference.

Consider drinking black coffee or unsweetened tea to get in a daily dose of caffeine, keep energy levels high, and enhance fat loss for women.

Drink More Water

Water helps flush out toxins from your body and boosts satiety.

That's why drinking more water makes it easier to eat fewer calories for weight and fat loss.

It also helps your body burn extra calories throughout the day.

A study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that drinking 2 cups of water increases energy expenditure by 24% in just 60 minutes!

Aim to drink 2-4 cups of water when you first wake up, 2 cups of water before meals, and 11-12 cups (or more if you sweat a lot) of water over the course of the day!

Take water bottles with you wherever you go, and keep the water cold so it's more palatable.

Add a small amount of fruit juice or fruit chunks to water if you’d like, or drink black coffee or green tea instead.

Check out these tips on the best times to drink water, and when you should actually avoid drinking too much water.

Take Dietary Supplements

Certain dietary supplements aid in fat loss for women for numerous reasons.

Supplements help your body burn extra calories, keep you full longer, control your appetite, boost energy, and prevent nutrient deficiencies associated with depression, fatigue, or other health issues.

Consider taking the following dietary supplements to enhance fat loss for women:

  • Fiber supplements
  • Probiotics supplements
  • Multivitamin supplements containing B vitamins, iron, iodine, calcium, and vitamin D
  • Protein powder supplements or bars
  • Coffee bean or green tea extract (if you don’t drink coffee or tea)
  • Chromium supplements
  • Soy isoflavone supplements
  • Fish oil supplements

Studies show that probiotics supplements may inhibit dietary fat absorption and boost the amount of fat your body excretes in feces.

A study published in PlosOne found that fish oil supplements significantly reduce waist circumference.

When choosing protein powder or protein bars for fat loss, pick brands low sugar (ideally containing 5 grams of sugar or less per serving).

Check with your doctor before taking dietary supplements.

Prioritize Sleep

Lack of sleep can increase your appetite by altering certain hormones in your body responsible for satiety.

Sleeping at least 7 hours each night is crucial for effective fat loss for women.

To get a better night's sleep:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night
  • Sleep in a dark, cool room
  • Use a white noise machine to block out sounds during the night
  • Avoid overeating before bedtime
  • Don't go to bed hungry
  • Steer clear of late-night workouts
  • Don't take long afternoon naps
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day
  • Don't smoke or drink excessively

The National Sleep Foundation recommends sleeping in a room with temperatures of 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit to enhance sleep quality.

Find out why sleep is important and how getting enough quality sleep can help you lose weight.

Lift Weights

Lifting weights helps build muscle mass, which allows your body to burn extra calories for fat loss.

Having more muscle definition can give you the boost of confidence you've been striving for!

A few simple weightlifting exercises for fat loss include:

  • Dumbbell or barbell deadlifts
  • Squat to press with dumbbells (pictured on the right)
  • Dumbbell chest press
  • Standing or walking lunges with dumbbells
  • Front or lateral raises
  • Biceps curls
  • Triceps extensions
  • Triceps kickbacks
  • Bent-over reverse flys
  • Russian twists with dumbbells

Try these exercises while circuit training by doing 10-20 reps of one exercise, then moving on to the next with little to no rest periods between.

Complete at least three sets of 4-6 different exercises for each fat-burning workout!

Find out why strength training for women over 40 is important to combat muscle loss and promote longevity!

Try Body Weight Exercises

If you don’t have weights at home, no problem!

Try simple exercises using your own body weight as resistance instead.

Examples include:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Regular pushups
  • Plyometrics pushups
  • Triceps pushups
  • Pull-ups
  • Chair dips, bench dips, or plyo box dips
  • Sit-ups
  • Lying leg raises
  • Standing leg raises
  • Planks
  • Plank jacks
  • Shoulder touch planks

Use these exercises during a circuit training routine to burn fat quickly and shave inches off your waistline.

Increase Cardiovascular Exercises

Boosting cardiovascular exercise is an excellent way to increase your calorie expenditure for fat loss.

Try cardio exercises as part of a circuit training program.

Alternate weightlifting or bodyweight exercises with the following calorie-burning cardio workouts to really get your blood pumping:

  • Jogging in place
  • High knees
  • Burpees
  • Jumping jacks
  • Rope jumping
  • Skaters
  • Box jumps
  • Side to side jumps
  • Front to back jumps
  • Squat jumps
  • Alternating jumping lunges
  • Battle rope exercises

On certain days each week, try continuous cardiovascular exercise at a moderate intensity for 45-60 minutes (or burn 400-600 calories doing cardio) to drop excess body fat quickly.

Choose something you enjoy, such as jogging, biking, swimming, rowing, stair climbing, or using an elliptical machine.

Learn about the best types of cardio for fat loss and the science behind cardio for WOMEN!

Sample Fat Loss Menu for Women

Try the sample menu below to get a jump start on fat loss for women today!

When You Wake Up

  • 2-4 cups of water

Breakfast

  • 3/4 plate of an egg and asparagus omelet
  • 1/4 plate of oatmeal or quinoa
  • Black coffee or green tea

Snack

  • Grapefruit, an orange, or any other fresh fruit
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Sunflower seeds or sliced almonds

Lunch

  • 1/2 plate of a leafy green salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, and an oil-based dressing
  • 1/4 plate of grilled chicken
  • 1/4 plate of cooked peas, a sweet potato, or whole-grain pasta

Snack

  • A protein shake made with almond or soy milk, almond butter, bananas, and whey or plant-based protein powder

Dinner

  • 1/2 plate of cooked broccoli, green beans, or zucchini (or combinations of these)
  • 1/4 plate of grilled shrimp
  • 1/4 plate of cooked brown rice or quinoa prepared with olive oil

Snack (optional)

  • Celery, carrots, cucumbers, pea pods, or tomatoes dipped in hummus

Use small portion sizes to keep your calorie intake between 1,200 and 1,500 calories per day.

If you weigh more or are very active, you might require up to 1,800 calories daily to drop weight at a pace of 1-2 pounds per week.

Erin Coleman

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on fat loss for women.

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