Women, Weightlifting, Nutrition and Metabolism

Micki Pauley

Personal Training, Nutrition, Health


Everyone is always looking for quick fixes. No one wants to put in the work that creates lasting changes—which is what you really want in the long run. Right?


So why do we sell ourselves short? I preach about the importance of putting healthy foods into our bodies and the benefits of exercise, but do you really know and understand what causes those benefits inside of us?



I am going to target this article a bit more towards the ladies because they are the majority of my audience and some struggle to truly understand what regular weight training and eating healthy can do for you.


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The Importance of Your Metabolism

Metabolism is what we want to boost when trying to lose weight because it is the control center for everything chemical that happens in our bodies. Think of our hormones, the way we feel, how much energy we have, and where we hold onto most of our weight. The higher our metabolism is, the more calories we burn. But when we destroy it when we go on crash diets or we yo-yo diet (bouncing around from diet to diet) we do our bodies more harm than good.


Fortunately, there are a couple ways that work to get your metabolism back in sync.


Metabolism Booster #1: Nutrition

Food and our metabolism are connected through what is called the thermic effect of food (TEF), defined as the amount of energy required for the body to use and store food. Protein has the highest TEF, followed by carbohydrates, followed by fats. This makes having protein with every meal key to helping boost your metabolism.


When it comes to choosing your proteins, think of your lean sources of protein: chicken, lean beef, turkey, fish, and eggs. Eating more protein also helps you to feel more full because it takes the longest to digest, hence boosting your metabolism through digestion and absorption. Protein is what builds the foundation of our bodies. If you want a strong structure, protein will help you.


What happens if we don’t eat enough? Well, our bodies aren’t too happy. When we aren’t giving our bodies enough food to eat, everything I talked about above goes right out the door. Our bodies go into more of a survival mode and will store the food as fat instead of burning it for energy.


If you are someone who exercises consistently (specifically weight training), there is pretty much no reason you shouldn’t be fueling your body properly. Ladies, I am calling you out because working with you for over a decade on nutrition, I have really had to get creative in helping you to understand the importance of fueling for weight and fat loss.


Here is an example of what a one-day meal plan might look like for a client. Keep in mind this is a pretty basic meal plan to help get the point across.



Meal #1: Breakfast

3-4 whole egg omelet with spinach, peppers, onions, 1/4 avocado, 1 cup berries


Meal #2: Snack

1/2 cup hummus with 1 cup vegetables of choice, 1/4 cup almonds


Meal #3 Lunch

4-6 oz lean ground beef burger, 1 whole sweet potato, 1 cup green vegetable


Meal #4: (pre-workout snack)

2 rice cakes with 2 tablespoons nut butter of choice


Meal #5: Post Workout

1 scoop protein powder in liquid of choice, 1 banana, or 1 apple


Meal #6 Dinner (Post-workout)

4-6 oz chicken breast, 1/2-1 cup brown rice, 1 cup vegetable of choice


Each of these meals should have at least 25-40g of protein.


Metabolism Booster #2: Weightlifting

As a female weightlifter, I can assure you that lifting weights won’t make you blow up into the female version of The Hulk. Aside from my love of talking nutrition, my next favorite thing to discuss is muscle.


It is commonly known that muscle burns more calories than fat does. If you aren't convinced that adding muscle to your frame is for you, remember that a pound of muscle burns an average of 3-10 times more calories than a pound of fat.


Aside from the positive effects, weightlifting has on the metabolism, it also has many other positive benefits such as helping to make your bones stronger. Ladies, we are more likely to have osteoporosis than men. Please help yourself by picking up something heavy and putting it back down on a regular basis.


I add a variety of weight lifting into my group fitness class, Warrior Body, here in Morgantown, WV. One of the questions I am often asked about my class is if it is more cardio or weightlifting based. The truth is that it is a good mix of both, but my members will tell you that we do a lot of weightlifting. Some examples include:


  • Barbell work: rows, overhead pressing, deadlifts, squats
  • Kettlebell work: deadlifts, presses, swings, rows, squats
  • Dynamic strength movements: tire slams, tire flips


Why is this type of training so successful? It's because this type of training adds load to your muscles and this loading is what creates more muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the quicker your metabolism will become—which equals more calories burned!


An example of a circuit in my Warrior Body class might look like this:


  • 1: Kettlebell deadlift x 10-15 reps
  • 2: Two kettlebell bent over row x 10-15 reps
  • 3: Prowler push x 30-60 feet


I typically have this type of workout in a timed circuit, but for this example, you can see that the first two exercises are strength training based and the last exercise is conditioning based. This is just a simple example of what a circuit might look like, but it has all the components of a metabolically effective workout.


The Takeaway for Ladies

So ladies, if you could take anything away from this article, it is this: rip away your old beliefs that food makes us fat and that lifting weights is for The Hulk. Instead, work on adding more protein to your nutrition plan and add more weights to a weekly fitness routine.



This video, above, shows the variety of ways that I implement weight training into my workouts. Think outside of the box and make it fun! If you are anywhere near Morgantown, West Virginia, come on by and join in with our Warrior Body classes, and if you're not, sign up to join us for our online fitness challenges.

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