Here's a few words of wisdom from Cass, my exercise phys on the other side of the world and New Rules of Lifting for Women Co Author:
1. Women always underestimate their strength. I've never once walked into a gym or weight room and seen a woman lifting to her full potential. If I do, however, her body composition reflects the hard work: she's lean, attractively muscular, and still very feminine. True - I was so fortunate to see a woman lifting heavier than I do in the gym the other day - she offered me a spot and now we can look out for each other in the weights room and support each other to better lifting!
2. Most women avoid lifting weights because they don't know how. You don't need anyone to show you how to use a cross-trainer or a treadmill, but it's a good idea to learn how to properly lift. Men usually learn from their buddies or their favorite magazine, but a woman has to learn either by following her boyfriend around the gym or reading a non-female magazine (because most female magazines are worthless). The better way is to seek a good personal trainer: one who won't just promote bicep curls and only lifting weights less than 10 lbs dumbbells. Women have to stop using the excuse that they don't know how to weight train because weight training is the best way to achieve the body that they've always desired.
3. Women do not need to train differently than men. Period. Amen!
4. Protein is still the most misrepresented macronutrient in the diets of most women. Women still think that low-fat, low-protein diets will make them lose more weight, when in fact, an equal balance of high-quality protein, fat and plant-source carbohydrates is the best way to positively influence body composition. Have fish, poultry, eggs, beef, pork, cottage cheese, ricotta, or whey protein every time you eat a meal. I agree, the key, the secret!
5. Arachidonic acid, the n-6 polyunsaturated fat, in plasma membranes is good. Free arachidonic acid in the circulation is bad. There's a difference. True, arachidonic acid may lead to pro-inflammatory eicosanoids if released from the membrane, but if you eat a diet that reduces oxidative stress (i.e. with antioxidant foods, no trans fats, low sugar) arachidonic acid will stay in the membrane and serve its positive role as a polyunsaturated fat. I need to read all about this :)
6. It's harder for women to lose weight than men with exercise and diet. Mostly this occurs because women gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously while training which causes their body weight to stay the same. Also, psychologically, women tend to believe that they need to severely under-eat in order to lose weight. This often leads to failure with any diet plan because it's not providing enough calories to allow her to workout or to function normally throughout the day. Therefore, women first need to not judge themselves by a number on the scale to determine if they're body composition is changing and secondly, they need eat enough food to give them energy to exercise effectively and to not force them to abandon the food protocol to which they've committed. I often wonder why women are so scared to try something different. After all, the restrict-binge way of life doesn't work...as we all know!
7. If you hold your body fat in your abdominal region then you should reduce the amount of carbohydrates in your diet and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids (from fish, walnuts, and flax). A large waist circumference is positively correlated with insulin resistance, which means your ability to process carbohydrates is limited. Several lines of recent research have showed that low carbohydrate diets containing less than 30% calories as carbohydrate are most effective for battling belly fat. They also increase insulin sensitivity. Omega-3 fatty acids (especially the fats in fish oil) are also well-researched for their ability to promote increased fat burning and improve carbohydrate processing. Liz's note: Some women do very well on macros like this, whereas other women will do better with slightly higher carbs and lower fat. Increasing you intake of Omega-3 fatty acids is a good thing.
8. If a woman loses her menstrual period and is actually eating enough calories to sustain her metabolic demands, then it's likely an overactive stress response that is inhibiting her reproductive hormones. In this situation, she should evaluate her stressors and look for ways to promote relaxation. Sometimes this may mean time off from working out, time away from work on the weekends, and spending more time with people who make you happy. Losing your period not only has negative consequences for long-term bone health, but also depresses the immune system and makes it harder to reach a desired body fat level. Amen to that. Eat enough calories and minimize stress responses.
9. Women use fat for fuel better than men and need more protein to promote muscle protein synthesis. This means that fat and protein are definitely macronutrients that should not be limited in any woman's diet. Agreed~