An Explanation and a Solution for Slow Female Fat Loss

I’m 4 foot 11 and now weigh 46 kg with 22% Bodyfat. I am doing 4 weight training sessions and 6 cardio sessions/wk.The cardio usually fasted, on a treadmill doing 4-5 degree incline walking at 6.8km/h for 40 min and 5-10 min cool down. It says for my weight I burn 362 cals. I’m not sure what I burn with weight training, it takes about 40 min to complete.

I have created my food plan for the week and I’m thinking of doing a 30% deficit which brings me to approx 1280 calories daily. I wanted to change something (reduce calories) because I haven’t had any results for 2 weeks now and I don’t think I can fit in anymore cardio sessions. I’m also planning to use your carb cycling approach, using the 3 low / 1 high day rotation. My question: Do I need to eat at or above my maintenance calories to make the refeed/high day effective or is ok if I’m about 150 cals short? I find it hard to eat all the food. The fat is coming off really slow. Reading about other people’s body fat loss in your Inner Circle success stories (I’m a member), is inspiring, but also a little discouraging as mine is so slow. Also, with the bodyfat scales, why is the BF% reading always higher, in my case anyway, compared to the Accumeasure calipers, which I still havent mastered yet?

One thing to keep in mind is that at 4′ 11″ and 46 kg,you have fairly low calorie needs. You may have heard(or, heh, realized), that it’s more difficult for womento lose fat than men. Immediately most people think itmust be estrogen or hormonal issues. But perhaps thebiggest factor is NOT hormones, but the simple factthat women are usually smaller and lighter than men.

When you have a smaller body, you have lower calorie needs.When you have lower calorie needs, your relative deficit(20%, 30% etc) gives you a smaller absolute deficit andtherefore you lose fat more slowly than someone who islarger and can create a large deficit more easily.

For example, if my TDEE is 3300 calories a day (Im 5′ 8″and moderately to very active), then a 20% deficit is 660calories, which brings me to 2640 calories a day. On paper,that will give me about 1.3 lbs of wt loss per week, ratherpainlessly, I might add.

If I bumped my calorie burn up or decreased my intake byanother 340 a day, that’s enough to give me a 2 lbs perweek wt loss.

That’s hardly a starvation diet (Ahhh the joys of being a man).For smaller women, the math equation is very different.

If your total daily energy expenditure is only 1970 calories,even at a VERY high exercise level, then a 20% deficit foryou is only 394 calories which would put you at 1576 caloriesa day for (on paper) only 8/10th of a lb of fat loss/wk.

If you pursued your plan to take a more aggressive caloriedeficit of 30%, that puts you at a 591 calorie deficit whichwould now drop you down to only 1382 calories/day.

That’s starting to get fairly low in calories. However, youwould still have a fairly small calorie deficit. In fact, II would get to eat almost twice as many calories as you andI’d still get almost twice the weekly rate of fat loss!

What this all means is that women who are petite or have asmall body size are going to lose fat more slowly than largerwomen and much more slowly than men, so you cannot compareyourself to them.

It’s great to be inspired by our success stories, but if you’relooking for someone to model yourself after, choose one ofour success stories of someone your body size and wt, ratherthan the folks who started 100 lbs overweight and weretherefore easily dropping 3 lbs a week.

ONE POUND a week of fat loss is much more in line with arealistic goal for someone your body size. Overweight peoplecan lose it faster. You are already 22% body fat at only 46 kg.(so look on the bright side – you are NOT overweight – you aresimply working on getting even leaner than you already are).

The numbers of your plan look to be in the ballpark and yourstrategy makes sense. You simply need to be extremely consistentwith your nutrition over time.

Suggestion #1: Weigh and measure all your food any time you feel youare stuck at a plateau, just to be sure. When your calorie expenditureis on the low side, you don’t have much margin for error.

Suggestion #2: Take your body comp measurements with a grain ofsalt, esp if you are using Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA)scales (they are a bit wonky) and remember that body comp testingis seldom perfect. Pay attention to your circumference measurements,how your clothes fit and how you look in the mirror and in photosas well.

Suggestion #3: You might actually want to take fewer refeeds -once a week instead of every 4th day, or even just once every10-14 days, so you can get a larger weekly deficit. To answeryour question, yes it is ok if your 150 cals short on high carbdays if you are full (be happy that you are full – many peoplehave to deal with constant hunger when the calories get low)

Suggestion #4: You may want to take 2 or 3 of your long cardioson the treadmill and switch them to intense intervals or ANYother type of activity that has potential to burn more than 362calories for an hour’s investment of time, or perhaps thatequivalent calorie burn in less time. No need to add more daysof cardio or more time – get the most out of the time you arealready spending.

Suggestion #5: If you do intervals, don’t make the workout toobrief (ignore the advertisements for those “4 minute miracle”workouts, etc etc), or you may burn fewer calories than you werebefore! In fact, you might even try the method where you do HIITfor 15-20 min, then continue for another 30-40 at slow to mediumintensity. Increasing total calories burned should be your focus

Dropping only ONE pound per week (or less) may seem excruciatinglyslow, but it’s actually the same type of thing I do. As a bodybuilder,I go from lean to extremely lean when I diet and I don’t expectmore than a pound a week during contest cuts.

You are in a similar situation, even if not competing. Even ifyou get a half a pound a week fat loss, if you get that progressevery week, thats what youre looking for – steady progress – evenif slow.

It’s entirely possible that you HAVE been making progress,only very slowly. With the way water weight and glycogen levelscan fluctuate (and lean mass may increase), a half a poundor pound fat loss in a week could have been easily masked…and therefore, missed. That’s one of the drawbacks of goingby the scale alone.

Understand the calorie math I explained above and be patient,watching for slow and steady progress, paying special attentionto the trend over time on your progress chart.

Keep after it – the persistence will pay, I promise!

To learn more about the exact system I use to get lean enough to see 6-pack abs, visit my site at

Train hard and expect success!

Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle is the most detailed, one-stop guide to fat burning nutrition you’ll ever find.That’s why so many people call it the fat loss bible.