It’s one of the most talked about topics. Why do men lose weight faster than women? It seems that all men have to do is reduce their portion sizes a little, drink less alcohol and the numbers on the scale drop, while women find it harder to lose the excess weight despite their best efforts of calorie counting, juice cleansing and avoiding any form of sweets (Let’s admit it, it’s a little unfair).
So the next obvious question that needs to be answered is how? How do men lose weight quicker? Or is it just a myth?
Fortunately, science has proved that in fact men and women typically lose weight at different rates resulting from physiological differences. These differences include:
· Body Composition
· Fat storage
· Muscle Gains
· Protein Consumption
· Rate of Fat loss
1. Body Composition
The simple truth is that men are larger in body and muscle size which allows them to burn fat quicker. In contrast, women are genetically designed to have a lower percentage of muscle and more fat than men in order to support the biological processes of pregnancy and childbirth. As a result, women also have a lower basal metabolic rate (the minimum number of calories your body needs at rest to fuel its metabolic activity, for example to maintain functions such as heart beat, breathing and temperature). So in summary, men have a higher percentage of muscle and require more calories than women of a similar weight in order to maintain daily functions.
Men have 20 to 30 times more testosterone to the average women which allows them to gain more muscle mass whilst having a lower body fat percentage. On the flip side, women contain higher levels of estrogen, a hormone that works to keep the fat on the body in preparation of pregnancy. Women also make more triglycerides than men do. This indicates that the fat is being taken back up into adipose tissue at a higher rate in women than in men. As you can see, one of the major reasons for the variances in total body fat, muscle mass and fat distribution between sexes results from the level hormones within the body. But don’t give up hope ladies! Research shows that women are better at burning fat in response to exercise. During endurance exercise, they display lower respiratory exchange ratios than men, so its ok to throw on those sneakers and go for a run from time to time. 🙂
3. Fat Storage
This is at least one area where women have the advantage, weight-wise. Typically women store fat around their thighs, hips and legs (Known as the pear-shape figure). The type of fat stored here is called subcutaneous fat and is beneath the skin. Men on the other hand commonly store body fat in their upper body (known as beer bellies). The fat stored here is called visceral fat and unfortunately, those who carry extra fat here are at higher risk of developing heart disease than those who are bottom-heavy. Therefore, in men, high body fat levels correlate strongly with insulin resistance, while this relationship is much weaker in women (probably because of their lower tendency to store visceral fat). So men, you better watch out for that “beer belly” by trying to maintain a balanced lifestyle.
4. Muscle Gains
Strength training is just an important for weight loss as cardiovascular training yet men are more willing to lift weights. The big question here is why? There are so many pros for strength training. It improves lean muscle mass so you will look toned and fit. On top of that, increased lean muscle mass will boost your basal metabolic rate and do you know what this means? You will burn more calories… just sitting there! Yep you heard me. Another cool bonus of weights training is that by becoming more lean you will reduce the percentage of body fat (cellulite tends to reduce too).
Unfortunately, a common misconception of most females is that lifting weights will make them look like a bodybuilder or “chunky”. Unless you’re taking growth hormones, testosterone, or steroids, that won’t happen to you.
Therefore, with a little work in the weights room women can even up the odds a bit. To build more muscle and get your engine revving, pick up some weights and start pumping. You’ll increase your muscle mass and decrease your fat stores.
5. Protein Consumption
According to Katherine Tallmadge, the author of Diet Simple men love their meat whilst women prefer to eat carbohydrates. This behavioural determinant might also explain why men have more lean muscle mass compared to women. Diet plays a crucial role in fat storage.
Most of us have heard of someone who has dropped weight fast on a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. That’s because eating low in carbohydrates makes the body produce less insulin. And when insulin levels are low, the body burns more fat. A high insulin level promotes a quick storage of sugar in muscle and the liver. It also inhibits the hormone glucagon, which normally tells the body to burn stored fat. High protein meals will also let to you feel satisfied and full for a longer period of time.
Evidently, this may also explain the differences in fat storage, muscle mass and body fat percentage between sexes, especially if women eat less protein and more carbs.
By reading this article you can now appreciate that due to differences in hormones, metabolism and body composition, men are able to shed fat much more easily than women. These physiological disparities are related to the fact that female body is actively storing extra fat to prepare their body for signification energy demands such as ovulation, pregnancy, lactation, and childbirth. As such, women are “designed” to hold onto said nutrients because her primary purpose is to feed, nurture, and cultivate an entire other human being inside her body for nine months. You can’t fight evolution (sorry ladies).
So the key here is to optimize the above variables to tackle fat loss!
Tips for Women
You need to hit the weights. If you are weak with no muscle tissue you will look shapeless and greatly minimize your ability to burn calories and body fat.
Don’t skimp on the protein. And watch out for overdoing those pesky carbs! Its a good idea to try eating your protein first, and then eat your carbs afterwards when you’re a little fuller.
Everything in Moderation: Don’t eat large portion meals once or twice. Instead, it may be best to try to eat small amounts of many tasty foods. It will keep you satisfied and fuller for longer. And of course, once every now and then indulge in some of your favourite foods. Just make sure the rest of the week’s meals are healthy.
Balance: You need to balance work, life and exercise. Don’t go all out while exercising and then neglect everything else. You need Ying and Yang to ensure your stress and hormone levels stay in check, and you’re routine is sustainable long term.
Get some sleep!
Quality over quantity: Go for the healthier options, for example, meat and veggies. A smaller portion size of healthier foods compared to a normal take away meal often makes you feel fuller for longer anyway!
Fasting may be more effective for men than women: While fasting works well for some women, fasting too much can stress the adrenals and cause your hormones to rebel. Don’t skip meals and if you are considering intermittent fasting do some research to make sure it will work for you as there are numerous other options to dieting.
Tips for Men
Hit the weights, amongst the numerous other health & practical benefits, it will maximize everything you have in your favour and is the best way to burn body fat.
Eat lean, good quality protein. There is a big difference between a meat pie and a piece of grass fed lean beef.
Testosterone: The Brazil Nut; the natural way to boost testosterone and increase metabolism, high in healthy fat, protein, and trace minerals, Brazil nuts are one of the highest dietary sources of selenium. Basically, selenium boosts testosterone levels in men and improves sperm production and motility.
Get some sleep! Good for hormones, good for everything really.
Pay attention to your body: A recent study found symptoms of high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, and the initial stages of heart disease are all determinants of increase fat levels. To reduce these symptoms, get your diet in line and engage in high-intensity interval training and/or strength training.
Commit: The better your health now, the more years in your life and life in your years. Many people just leave it too late and try to play catch up. When you commit to eating right and staying in shape, you’ll have more time with the people you love.
By Katrina Laczoffy
Fit Stop Personal Trainer
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