THERE aren’t many women who aren’t aware of the part the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone play in how they feel about themselves. 

But did you know your balance of sex hormones can also determine where you store fat on your body?

Don’t spend hours in the gym on the treadmill, bike or other aerobic machine. Instead get stuck in to some high intensity interval training. 

Generally, women who are oestrogen dominant store more fat in their lower body (pear shapes with large hips) whereas progesterone dominance causes women to store fat in the upper body (apple shapes who store fat predominantly around the belly).

So now we know this, what do we do about it?

Well, in both cases it’s not the sex hormones that you need to target. The stress hormone, cortisol, and ‘sugar’ hormone, insulin, are the beasts you need to tame if you’re going to win your war against fat.

If you are pear shaped then it’s vitally important you get your insulin levels in check.  Insulin is responsible for helping the body to metabolise carbohydrate and fats. High insulin levels sensitise the alpha receptors in your nervous system. Alpha receptors are responsible for fat store and so hopefully you can see that waking them up is not the best thing if you want to burn fat. 

What should you do as a pear shaped woman wanting to burn fat? Well, the simple answer is you need to eat smarter.

This means not going on a crash diet, but instead focusing on controlling your carbohydrate intake. Now this doesn’t mean banishing carbs all together – the dangers associated with that are myriad. What you do need to do is to be smarter with your carb choices. 

Whilst nutrition really is key to shifting lower body fat, exercising smarter also makes sense. So don’t spend hours in the gym on the treadmill, bike or other aerobic machine. Instead get stuck in to some high intensity interval training – you’ll get far more fat burning benefits from this in less than half the time you’d usually spend in the gym. Read The Jessica Ennis Effect.

High Intensity Training

To help you start your journey I’ve put together a 14 day ‘Fit For Life Pear Plan’ which gives you ideas of what to eat and when to eat it along with exercise tips and other things to consider.  You can download your free copy here: Fit For Life Pear Plan

For all you apple shaped ladies out there. You need to put more emphasis on managing cortisol – the stress hormone. I’ve written about this before in Is Stress Making You Fat but basically cortisol switches off your fat burn beta receptors and also actively encourages fat store around the waist.

As your body registers the food we put in our mouths as a potential stressor it makes sense to eat smarter. Cutting out processed foods, alcohol, coffee and simple sugars will reduce the level of food based stress on your body. But the real key for apple shaped ladies is what you do exercise wise. It’s vitally important that you steer clear of long workouts focusing instead on the high intensity work we mentioned earlier, keeping your workouts short and sharp. This type of exercise needs to be combined with relaxing pursuits like yoga, pilates and lots of relaxing walks. 


In my Free ‘Fit For Life Apple Plan’ that you can download here: Fit For Life Apple Plan, you get information on how to put this into practice as well as lots of other stress reducing techniques.

It’ll be a big positive step towards a fitter, healthier and happier future. 

Sara Perry is a Personal Trainer & Development Coach passionate about helping women over the age of 40 live fitter, happier and healthier lives.  

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