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How Women Are Different from Men in Weight Loss

By Julie Mansfield | 15th Feb, 2016

Weight loss isn’t easy for anyone– male or female. There are some scientific facts however that prove men have an easier time losing weight than women. Why is this? Evidence suggests several possibilities: biology; hormones; muscle mass; metabolism and others. This article explores 5 ways in which women are different from men when it comes to losing weight. Understanding these differences may help you if you are struggling with weight loss.

1.  Hormones

The primary male hormone is testosterone. It is responsible for more than just sex drive. A healthy male with normal to high testosterone levels has a much easier time building lean muscle mass, whereas women who produce testosterone in far smaller amounts, have a much harder time building and maintaining a healthy amount of lean muscle mass. The female hormone estrogen is largely responsible for making women’s bodies ready for pregnancy – meaning, easy weight gain, lower metabolism and less energy spent building lean muscle mass. So hormones have a lot to do with results in the gym when comparing men with women.

2.  Metabolism

Having a higher percentage of lean muscle mass naturally boosts a person’s metabolism, male or female. This is because it takes more energy (calories) to operate a body with more muscle. Because it is harder for women to build much lean muscle this keeps us in a cycle of dieting, trying to work out and lose weight with a lower metabolism. A slower metabolism also means that the foods we eat almost instantly get stored – you guessed it – as fat. The best advice for a woman trying to get fit is to do workouts that include weight training. Not body building, just a moderate regimen that includes using the weight machines at the gym or free weights at home. The key to weight training is this: to “bulk up” you lift heavier weight for fewer repetitions; to build lean muscle mass and increase your metabolism do higher repetitions at a lower weight.

3.  Biology

The American Journal of Physiology cites a recent study that showed that in women, the hormone ghrelin (the one that screams, “I’m hungry!”) spikes after exercise. Additionally, the hormone leptin (the “I’m full!” hormone) drops dramatically. This is completely opposite of what happens in men biochemically after a workout. So naturally, after exercising, women’s brains will be signaling voracious hunger while men’s brains aren’t hungry whatsoever. Who is going to eat more? Hmm…

4.  More Science

There was another interesting study done in 2009 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that studied the brain reactions of men and women when the subjects were exposed to the smell, sight or taste of things like cinnamon buns, pizza, chocolate cake, etc. and the findings were astounding. In the brains of the women participants, the stimulation caused the area of the brain that controls hunger to be highly activated. There was zero notable change in the brains of the male subjects. So women respond to food-related sensory stimulation far more often than men do. Imagine the housewife that is constantly cooking for her family, children, husband at dinner – 3 meals a day plus snacks for kids and that brain center is going to constantly be stimulated, signaling that it is time to eat.

5.  Mental States and Behaviour

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition performed numerous studies on this topic and their findings were quite revealing. First, women tend to be more “emotional eaters” than men. This means that women more than men find comfort from food in response to emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, guilt, anxiety, stress and grief. Emotional eating creates a much more profound reason for eating than simple hunger. It is an attempt to relieve emotional discomfort. This can be a very hard cycle to break, but it is possible. Many women seek professional counseling to learn healthier ways of coping with emotional situations and as a result, they eat and weigh less.

So there are many differences between men and women – more than one article could cover – but the interesting thing here is that when it comes to staying fit and losing weight, there are significant differences between men and women.

Being aware of these differences can help us recognize these pitfalls before they affect us as well as arm us with valuable insight on why it’s harder to lose weight.

Hopefully this information has helped you become more aware of your tendencies and behaviors and make the necessary corrections.

It may be harder for women to lose weight, but it is certainly not impossible!