Here’s what you need to know
1. Female and male are different in terms of how we carry fat. Although we all come in different shapes and sizes, typically females tend to carry fat in their breasts, hips, and lower body, at least until menopause.
2. The female body is really good at creating and holding on to fat tissue. The female body has evolved to hold more fat than a male body due to our need for extra energy to produce healthy babies.
3. The female fat cell thrives on diets and stress.
4. Rather than striving to lose weight at all costs or to be as lean as possible, women should strive to be as healthy as possible.
The truth about fat
Here’s a tough truth…women’s bodies are naturally designed to have more fat than men’s bodies. Seems unfair doesn’t it? I mean we already have so many other things to deal with as women.
It seems unfair because it means that if you are a woman trying to lose weight, your body will try to counteract any attempts to do so.
Why? It does this because, put simply, “fat = survival” from an evolutionary perspective. Read on for more about this.
If you are a woman trying to achieve a very lean physique, this article will help you understand why this is difficult to achieve and may even be dangerous for our health.
But don’t give up your goals just yet! I’m hoping this article will help change the dialogue you have with your body.
Changing the way we view ourselves is the first step in achieving and sustaining an healthy body weight.
Why women need fat
There are evolutionary reasons that women naturally have more fat than men. Women are more likely to be infertile if body fat drops too low therefore evolution would have favoured females with higher fat stores. Evolutionists also suggest that in terms of sexual selection men would have favoured women with narrow waists and curvy hips and thighs because these were signals of fertility. Furthermore, fat in the hips and thighs serves as an energy source for breastfeeding after pregnancy.
So our fat stores are nature’s way of ensuring that we have sufficient calories to produce babies.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that being fat is our evolutionary destiny and there’s no point in trying to lose fat. I’m saying as women we are healthier when we carry slightly more fat. If we are too overweight, this could negatively impact our fertility as well. There is a healthy-sweet spot when it comes to female body fat percentage (and what this is will vary on an individual basis). Check out the photo below for some of the most common female body shapes.
Stuff that turns on fat storage
If women have evolved to naturally have more fat for reproductive reasons, when we try to lose fat in unhealthy ways our body will actually turn on fat storage mechanisms – that is, our bodies will work against our attempts to lose weight.
Here are some things that we commonly do that turn on fat storage:
- Not eating regularly
- Get down to unhealthy body fat percentages each year (on and off season dieting)
- Being stressed out
- Not getting enough rest
- Exposure to xenoestrogens (man-made chemicals that can enter the body and mimic the effects of the female hormone estrogen).
What does all this mean for you?
If we understand why we naturally hold on to fat, we have a foundation for building nutrition, fitness and lifestyle programs that will support a healthy, sustainable body weight.
The main thing that I want you to take away from this article is to begin to shift the dialogue you have with yourself and others around female fat. Rather than striving to lose weight at all costs or to be as lean as possible, we should strive to be as healthy as possible.
Change the emphasis from “weight loss” to building healthy, strong bodies. If we happen to be heavier in our breasts or hips – instead of negative talk about “fat thighs” or “my huge butt” we need to learn to celebrate our curves that come from being a woman and work on bringing out that beautiful female shape through our nutrition and exercise.
Research shows that negative “fat talk”, the normalized conversations that involve degrading one’s body shape and size, can increase body dissatisfaction and disordered eating behavior. We really have to cut it out.
Stopping our negative “fat talk” and practicing self-love is the first step to healthy body change. Understanding why we are different means we can work in partnership with our bodies instead of fighting against them.