If you’re a male-to-female (MTF) individual having trouble trimming those stubborn love handles, banishing the extra inches on your thighs, or getting rid of that troublesome arm flab, you’re not alone. The truth of the matter is many MTFs, particularly those undergoing hormone replacement therapy, have trouble with weight loss.
While part of this may be due to the effects of estrogen, there are often a number of other factors contributing to any given MTF’s weight loss battles. Here are five common things holding the average person back from achieving a lean, toned, aesthetically pleasing physique – and, more importantly, how to combat them!
1. You’re Magnesium-Deficient.
The human body needs magnesium for 300+ chemical reactions, such as maintaining a steady heart rhythm and regulating our blood sugar levels. Apart from the health benefits, magnesium also has the ability to promote weight loss and aid body shaping. For example, a 2013 study appearing in the Journal of Nutrition linked higher magnesium intake to lower levels of insulin and fasting glucose (both markers for weight gain).
Slim Down Solution: The recommended daily dose of magnesium is around 320 mg. To reach that target, consume more foods rich in magnesium, such as beans, nuts, and leafy greens. You can also consider taking a supplement.
2. You’re Not Training Properly.
Many people start off their weight loss journey performing excessive amounts of steady-state cardio (e.g., jogging on the treadmill, cycling on the elliptical). Here’s the problem: Running at a consistent clip for 45 minutes may help you burn a ton of calories and shed weight at first, but your metabolism will adjust eventually and you’ll stop burning calories the second you jump off the treadmill.
Believe it or not, weight training is a far more effective path to weight loss. In the first instance, strength training with weights creates micro-tears in your muscles that require more energy – read, burn more calories – to heal. This process can last for up to two days post-training! Additionally, the more lean muscle mass you possess, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be and the more calories you’ll burn during the 95% of your day you’re not in the gym.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) offers another great way to maximize your workout’s fat-burning potential. HIIT involves alternating between short bursts of high intensity activity and longer periods of low- to moderate-intensity activity. According to one study from the University of Arkansas, people who performed HIIT experienced a 20% decrease in belly fat.
Slim Down Solution: Incorporate a 15- to 20-minute HIIT workout into your daily training routine. This could be a straight cardio workout such as sprints, cycling, rowing, or swimming, or it could be a full-body strength workout. Here are three of our favorite HIIT routines.
3. You’re Going Too Heavy On The Salt.
Chances are you’ve experienced that feeling of bloatedness after downing an entire carton of McDonald’s fries or a bag of Lays potato chips. When you consume excess quantities of salt, the water migrates from your bloodstream into your skin. This produces a puffy look and bloated sensation. About 90% of people are eating more than the recommended 2,300 mg per day of sodium, not just from pouring on the table salt but also from consuming sodium-heavy items such as dressings, deli meats, cheese, and canned foods.
Slim Down Solution: Rather than adding salt to your meals, season with spices and herbs. When cooking, opt for things like cayenne powder, pepper, garlic, cumin, ginger, thyme, basil, parsley, and rosemary. This will provide all of the flavor and plenty of incidental health benefits, without that awful bloat.
4. You’re Not Getting Enough Shuteye.
Lack of sleep can wreak serious havoc on your weight loss goals. According to one study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, women who got five or less hours of sleep per night were about one-third more likely to experience significant weight gain over the course of 16 years than women who got sufficient sleep. Additionally, people tend to consume more calories when they’re tired, mostly from sugary, fatty, or salty foods. Why is this? Getting very little sleep can boost your levels of ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone.
Slim Down Solution: One of your best defenses against weight loss plateaus is a solid seven to nine hours of sleep per night. To help yourself get a better night’s rest, shut off all electronics at least one hour before hitting the sheets, keep your room at a relatively cool temperature (65 degrees), and try to get on a regular sleep schedule.