Let’s get real, weight loss isn’t always easy. It takes time to reap the benefits of consistently making a healthy choice. But, you also need the right information to help you know which aspects of your lifestyle you need to change. If you’ve been told the wrong things about the best ways to lose weight, fat loss can become an uphill battle. There’s no need for it to be that hard! You don’t need to exercise for 2 hours a day or just eat salads to get results. Instead, follow these essential and scientifically-based tips for female weight loss.

1. Don’t Starve Yourself
If you’ve got the ‘eat less, lose more weight’ mentality, I don’t blame you! It sounds logical and we’re often told that cutting calories is the solution. However, starving yourself to try to lose weight not only isn’t effective, it’s counter-productive. When you don’t eat enough, your body automatically shifts to slow down your metabolism so that you burn fewer calories to preserve your fuel (fat) stores because your body isn’t getting enough to run on.

So, while it’s important that you’re not overeating if you want to lose weight, you can’t keep cutting calories either. Depending on your height, weight and activity level, there is a minimum amount that women should be eating every day. In general, this should NEVER drop below your recommended resting metabolic rate but if you’re working out, you’ll need more fuel than that to support healthy weight loss too.

2. Don’t Sweat Over Calories
Almost everything is about calories these days! But, obsessing over how many you’re eating or burning is a huge source of stress for people trying to lose weight. More stress means higher cortisol levels, the hormone that triggers food cravings and encourages fat storage around the midsection. Instead of counting calories, focus on eating a balanced diet of whole foods that satisfy your hunger.

3. Lift Weights
Not only is resistance training the most effective way to improve your metabolism and keep burning calories after you’ve finished exercising, it also triggers the release of hormones that encourage your body to burn fat. This means that lifting weights will make you leaner and female weight loss will be much easier to maintain afterwards too. Additionally, studies have shown that people who weight train are less likely to reward themselves with food for their physical efforts as well.

4. Don’t Fear Fat
As women, most of us have been fairly well conditioned to avoid eating high fat foods. However, low-fat diets create a whole host of problems for us including greater blood sugar fluctuations and hormone imbalances that ultimately result in a reduced ability to burn fat.

To avoid these problems, it’s important to include healthy fats in your everyday diet. This includes things such as fatty fish, avocado, healthy oils and nuts and seeds. This will help your body to run as it should, promote healthy skin and hair and keep you nicely full between meals.

5. Pay Attention to Hormone Balance
Hormones are responsible for almost every response that occurs in your body. When balanced, hormones like estrogen and progesterone help you to maintain optimal health and body composition. But, imbalanced hormones can quickly lead to increased fat storage along with a whole host of other health problems. Unfortunately, many of us women have estrogen levels that are too high due to the influence of things such as exposure to chemical estrogens in plastics, poor diet, lack of exercise and little lean muscle mass. In addition to trying to avoid your exposure to things that raise estrogen, eat plenty of protein and antioxidant-rich foods. You can find more information on foods that naturally reduce estrogen here.

6. Swap Processed Carbs for Vegetables and Fruit
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no need to avoid eating carbs if you’re a woman who’s wanting to lose weight. Carbs are one of the main nutrients that your body needs to function properly. A problem is only created when your insulin levels are constantly being spiked from eating lots of foods that contain refined carbs.

Swap out processed carbs such as breads, cereals and most packaged foods for whole food carbs like vegetables and fruits. These will give your body plenty of steady energy to run off while providing you with a whole host of vitamins, minerals and fiber to promote good overall health.

7. Avoid Fasting for Long Periods
Intermittent fasting or the 5:2 has become a popular weight loss strategy. While it works for some, periods of fasting that are longer than the standard 10-12 hours overnight, can negatively affect your hormone balance as a woman, disrupting reproduction and cortisol levels.

Most females will find weight loss more achievable if they eat regular meals throughout the day. Whether that’s 3 bigger meals or 3 smaller ones with snacks, that’s up to you but eating regularly will help to avoid a drop in your metabolism and encourage steady hormone release.

8. Focus on Training Compound Movements
Instead of jogging on the treadmill or doing isolation exercises, if you’re after female weight loss, focus on moving your whole body. This means that you should be squatting, deadlifting and doing things such as pullups to improve your strength, develop good posture, build functional fitness and burn lots of calories while you’re at it.

You don’t need to limit yourself to doing these exercises in a weight-lifting type of session either. They’re perfect to include in HIIT sessions that release fat burning hormones and create an afterburn effect which can continue to use calories for up to 24 hours after you’ve finished your workout. It’s about getting more bang for your buck and will make female weight loss efforts much easier!