I recently got interviewed by a newspaper on my most important advice for women who want to burn fat and build muscle. Here are my answers :
What are the three most important tips for women who want to burn fat and build muscle?
I have one tip for each main category of achieving anything with your fitness and health : MIND, FOOD and MOVEMENT.
MIND: Do not set an outcome goal in terms of “I want to lose 20 lbs of fat”. Instead, set a process goal in terms of “I want to consistently work out 4 times a week for this whole coming year”, and/or “I want to have a healthy breakfast 6 out of 7 days of the week. Each week”.
We tend to overestimate what we can achieve in 1 month and underestimate what we can achieve in 1 year. And consistency in your actions and habits is all that matters. The results will follow.
FOOD : Earn your carbs. Make it a commitment to ONLY have carbs after hard workouts. You know the carbs stand between you and your “looking great naked” goals, but you can’t stop eating them altogether? Then just save the carbs for after the workout. Then your muscles will be open for sugar (insulin sensistive) and the carbs will enter your muscle cells, instead of your fat cells. Still keep carbs to 2-4 meals per week.
MOVEMENT : Make it a commitment to break a sweat every day. This does not have to be a full blown workout every day. A good way to get that out of the way right away is to have a small morning routine of 3-4 exercises that takes you just 5 minutes but will set the tone for the day. 4 times a week you should do an intense workout consisting of strength training and/or running.
Is strength training important for women?
Lifting weights will make it a lot easier to burn fat and build muscle, but it is not an absolute requirement. Muscle burns a lot of calories (even without activity) and gaining an extra 2-3 pounds of muscle will go a long way getting and keeping you lean over the long run!
Is there anything you wish all women knew about burning fat and building muscle?
I wish all women would appreciate that being in a healthy physical shape will translate directly into a healthy mental and emotional shape. Our hormones determine how we feel, and muscle vs. fat produce a completely different set of hormones. Having less body fat will have a positive trickle down effect on your female health (periods & sex drive & fertility) and your emotional environment.
You do not have to become a fitness model. In fact, it is not about the outcome at all. It is about the process. Eat, think and move every day in a way that you can be proud of yourself when you go to bed every night. Do that 200 out of 365 days of the year. The results will follow!
I like to tell my clients : “Looking good naked is just a positive by-product of daily habits that you can be proud of.”
Gerrit Keferstein is a Medical Doctor specialised in Performance & Functional Medicine. He is most known for his work on the optimisation of recovery and adaptation in elite athletes.