Diet and exercise both play an important role in helping women successfully tone up, which requires losing excess body fat and building or maintaining lean muscle mass. Daily calorie control, choosing foods that help you stay lean and regular exercise maximizes toning results for women.
Women who want to tone up have to lose some body fat, which requires a calorie deficit -- which means eating fewer calories than they expend daily. Women who are overweight or obese often benefit from eating 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day to shed pounds. However, as long as you burn off more calories than you eat -- by reducing calories, increasing physical activity or both -- you should effectively be able to burn fat.
Fiber-rich foods help women tighten and tone their bodies, because fiber boosts satiety but fiber calories aren't fully absorbed by your body. A study published in 2009 in "The Journal of Nutrition" found that increasing dietary fiber tends to reduce overall calorie intake -- and the risk for fat gain in women. Researchers who conducted this study found that for every 1-gram increase in dietary fiber, body fat decreased by a 0.25 percentage point. Fiber-rich foods include fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole-grains, nuts and seeds.
Protein is an important component of a toning diet, because it helps reduce excess body fat by increasing satiety and boosting calorie expenditure. A study published in 2012 in "Nutrition and Metabolism" found that women who lowered their overall calorie intake by 500 daily and consumed 0.73 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily -- which equates to 102 grams per day for a 140-pound woman -- effectively reduced weight and body fat. Healthy, protein-rich choices include egg whites, lean meat, skinless poultry, seafood, soy products, low-fat dairy foods, nuts, seeds, seitan and legumes.
Foods to Cut
While it's often difficult to cut out junk food, doing so makes it easier for women to burn fat and get toned. When trying to lose unwanted body fat, replace sugary drinks with water and limit -- or cut out entirely -- other added sugars, sweets, sugary gums, candy, fried foods, baked goods, high-fat meats, high-fat dairy foods and refined grains, such as white bread, white rice and regular pasta.
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: How are Overweight and Obesity Treated?
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Protein, Weight Management and Satiety
- The Journal of Nutrition: Increasing Total Fiber Intake Reduces Risk of Weight and Fat Gains in Women
- Nutrition and Metabolism: Effects of Protein Intake and Gender on Body Composition Changes: A Randomized Clinical Weight Loss Trial