The weather is warming up. Daylight savings has kicked in. Suddenly that 5am cardio alarm doesn’t seem so terrible, and when you leave work, instead of gunning for date night with your favourite hoodie and some takeaway, you find yourself leaning towards the door and dusting off your old joggers from last Summer.
It’s beach season again and the media knows it.
And so begins the relentless marketing campaigns for fat loss products designed specifically for women trying to achieve their dream bikini body. Skinny tea’s, detox products, fat burners for her, and thermogenic protein drinks in pretty pink packaging!
Well, its’ time for this gender-based marketing to stop and to dispel some myths around gender-specific supplementation!
Myth 1 - Protein Powders for Her
Whilst this is seemingly the most obviously incorrect of all the supplement myths, every year thousands of pretty pink tubs of protein powder continue to fly off the shelves around swimsuit season!
Protein is a macronutrient.
It is a fundamental nutrient our body utilises as the building blocks for repair and has a host of benefits as a major component of your year-round meal plan. So to say there is a protein for Women is like saying there are carbohydrates just for men! In short, you are being had, ladies!
Protein is protein, and it can be sourced from fish, eggs, poultry, beef, or most conveniently, in a powdered dairy-based source such as Whey Protein, which we are all familiar with. Male or female, having a balanced, nutrient-dense diet rich in protein from a variety of sources will aid in muscle building, repair, and maintenance while dieting off those last grams of body fat. So please don’t let a clever salesman tell you otherwise!
So ladies, hopefully now you can confidently grab the 3kg bucket of WPI with a 300-pound bodybuilder plastered on the label knowing you will make the exact same progress as if you had opted for the female-friendly packaged option you walked past in the weight loss section!
Myth 2 - Fat Burners for Her
Fat burning supplements can be great tools to aid in weight loss efforts. Active ingredients typically featured include L-Carnitine, Green Tea Extracts (ECGC), Green Coffee Bean extracts, Chromium, and a host of thermogenic stimulants such as Synephrine, caffeine or commonly in the USA, Yohimbine to aid in enhancing the rate you burn calories at rest.
Much like protein, none of the amino acids or stimulants mentioned are more or less effective in either men or women. L-Carnitine facilitates the transport of long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria of the cell, allowing fat to be burnt as fuel.
At no point does what you have going on down south influence the actions of Carnitine Palmitoyltransferase in Lipolysis, and by the same token, none of these ingredients are any more or less effective based on sex.
The only disclaimer here comes down to Caffeine and stimulant tolerance in these fat burning supplements. Stimulant tolerance is a largely varied factor from person to person and is largely bodyweight dependent as the ratio of caffeine/kg of bodyweight increases. A 60kg female is statistically more probable to be adversely affected by 300mg of caffeine than a 100kg male; it’s just simple maths. This is not to say there aren’t 75kg males with lower caffeine tolerances than the very same 60kg lass, but in the interest of thorough exploration of gender specificity with fat burners, stimulants are the only real factor that would come into consideration.
So with stimulant tolerance taken in to account, a fat burning supplement is equally suitable for the hubby as it is you. Choosing the menacingly named, hyper shredding thermos will leave you no less peeled than the silver and pink tub promising a ‘female beautifying complex”. Now with that myth dispelled, onto the final myth!
Myth 3 - Detox for Her
Detoxification is another over marketed concept with an underwhelming level of actual understanding in the marketplace. This is where many clever companies have slung together products aimed at the female market, featuring some mild diuretics to create a quick drop of water weight, coupled with some feel-good ingredients that are micro-dosed and overpriced.
Detoxification, despite gimmicky headlines in wellness magazines telling you, doesn’t actually require cutting-edge supplementation to occur. In fact, it is actually occurring every second of every day as part of our natural function.
Detoxification is a remarkably complex process that occurs via two primary pathways (Phase 1 and Phase 2) for literally thousands of chemical compounds a day. Pollutants, toxins, cosmetics, BPA’s, water and fat soluble vitamins, hormones, metabolic waste and even by-products of exercise. These are all things that confront your body on the daily and without detoxification pathways, they can seriously impact your health. Phase 1 is the major line of defence and includes the filtering actions of the Liver, Kidneys and even lungs. These are the major sites that enzymatic action occurs to neutralise toxins entering the system. There are over 50 specific enzymes that do this process, the majority of which are referred to as Cytochrome P-450 enzymes. However, this does not always neutralise all of the toxins, and harmful by-products can be compounded in the reactions, necessitating the actions of Phase 2 detoxification. This involves Methylation, Glutathione Conjugation, Sulfonation or Acetylation depending on the toxins present. The greater the load on Phase 1 detoxification pathways, the slower the clearance time of toxins and the longer it takes to get Phase 2 processes to assist. Now being such a finely tuned machine with a balance between the two phases, there are a host of foods such as seaweed, pumpkin seeds, grapefruit, broccoli sprout, turmeric and mushrooms that may assist in alleviating the load on Phase 1 and thus stimulating the Phase 2 pathways to speed toxin clearance times.
The take home to this quick look into the complexity of detoxification is to demonstrate that nothing mentioned above is gender specific!
Detoxification pathways function the exact same for men and women and as such, any product put together to aid in either phase of the detoxification process is going to affect men and women in the same way. As a disclaimer, this is true minus any underlying genetic predispositions to toxins, auto-immune deficiencies, hormonal imbalances or of course, the presence of toxins. So given everything is equal, and with sex being the only differing factor, detoxification products for him and her should bare the exact same nutritional info panel!
So there you have it ladies, the debunking of 3 popular myths around supplementation for women vs men!
There are no macronutrients that are suited to men vs women. There are no fat burning supplements that have a valid claim as to why they are for female trainees over males.
And lastly, there is no such thing as gender specific detoxification, and thus no such differentiated product should exist either!
So before asking Google for the female-friendly products to fuel your next Summer fat loss campaign, I hope you think back to the basic question;
Is what I am trying to achieve different for men or women?
Just as male fat loss is the same as female fat loss, so too should be the supplements, and so too should the market reflect this.
So put down the pretty tub of ‘ShredFemme Ultra’ and choose an informed skepticism over the clever marketing in the fat loss section of your local supplement store!