If you’ve ever been on a diet or a new fitness regime with people of the opposite sex, you may noticed something strange. With men, the pounds shed faster with much less effort. In the meantime, frustratingly enough, the needle on the weighing scale may have barely moved for the ladies.
You’re not imagining things. With weight loss, there are major biological differences between women and men. Being aware of these differences is the start to better managing your expectations!
Let’s dive in.
The gender bias
Why do men lose weight faster? For starters, the male body tends to have a higher composition of muscle. Because muscle is an extremely powerful fat-burning tissue, it translates to a difference in metabolism between women and men. Specifically, men have a resting metabolic rate that is anywhere between 5% to 10% higher than women’s.
Not to mention the female body is more eager when it comes to storing fat. There’s a reason why women have 6 to 11 percent more body fat than men on average.
The culprit here is oestrogen, the hormone that prepares women’s bodies for pregnancy. As far as your oestrogen is concerned, all those fat deposits will come into good use when you’re carrying a child for nine months.
In one study, researchers monitored over 2,000 overweight women and men as they underwent a controlled diet. After eight weeks, the men lost an average of 12kg each – 2kg more than the average of what the women lost. The men also lost significantly more body fat.
Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition produced even more remarkable results. When women and men went on identical diets, the men lost twice the weight and three times the body fat compared to the women in the first two months.
It’s only short-term
It’s not all a bed of roses for men, though. This weight loss advantage is only a short-term one.
The same British Journal of Nutrition study showed that weight loss for both sexes will even out after six months. Men might have a stronger head start, but it’s only a matter of time before their progress stagnates.
Why does the dreaded weight loss plateau happen? When you lose fat, like it or not, you will lose some muscle. Think of it as collateral damage. Since your muscle content is what fuels your metabolism, the loss of muscle will result in fewer burned calories.
What should women do to lose weight more effectively?
If you’re a woman, strength training is key. It’s even more important than cardio. We’ve already established that muscle mass is important for keeping your metabolism active. And since everyone starts losing a frightening amount of muscle in our 30s, all the more we need to step up.
Many women are hesitant to lift weights because they don’t want to bulk up. The truth is that getting to a gigantic size actually requires a ton of testosterone and hormonal drugs. You’d have to supply your body with an abnormally massive volume of calories, too. Without those things, it is much likelier that strength training will only cause you to develop a leaner, smaller frame.
If you’re apprehensive or you don’t know where to start, register for a group class at your gym. Look for women’s-only classes if it makes you more comfortable. You may want to start strength training once a week, and gradually switch it up to twice or thrice weekly sessions.
You’ll also need to be more conscious of your diet just before or during your menstrual cycle. It’s the time of the month when your cravings for sugar can become uncontrollable. For that, you’ll have your hormonal fluctuations to thank. Beware!
What should men do to lose weight more effectively?
If you’re an overweight man, your weight will normally be concentrated within the abdominal cavity.
This is visceral fat – the hard, deep-layer fat that’s wrapped around your internal organs. It is also the most dangerous type, since it increases your risk of developing health problems like cardiovascular diseases. Reducing your visceral fat even by a little drastically improves your metabolism.
The good news is with any weight loss program you follow, your body is much more inclined to part with your visceral fat.
This doesn’t mean you can take things easy. Make sure you continue building muscle consistently to prevent a weight loss plateau.
You may also have to review your diet if you want a long-term remedy. Start by clearing from your pantry foods that are processed, and high in saturated fat, refined sugars and salt. Limit your intake of alcohol and other empty-calorie beverages.
Instead, consume foods that help you combat belly fat – like avocados, whole grains and green tea.
The age-old rules still apply
These rules apply for both women and men: Always start your day with a wholesome breakfast. Studies have shown that those who eat breakfast are more successful with weight loss and long-term weight maintenance. It’s called the most important meal of the day for a reason! Of course, give your kaya toast a pass and go for nutritious options like Greek yogurt and oatmeal.
Remember you need sufficient sleep to lose weight effectively. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night. When you don’t have enough shut-eye, your hunger hormones short-circuit. Long story short, you’ll become more prone to overeating and making poor food choices.
If a reasonable diet and exercise program no longer works for you and you’ve reached a weight loss plateau, you may want to consider our signature CSH therapy® program. It is a three-step formula that will help you supercharge your metabolism with weight loss averaging 4-6kg in 1 month*.
CSH therapy® works especially well for women who have trouble spots around their thighs, waist and hips – the areas where fat is often most stubborn.
Since 2002, Absolute Wellness has helped more than 2,500 clients achieve their ideal weight with a 99 per cent success rate. Check out their testimonials, or read more about what our CSH therapy® program is about.
*Results may vary between individuals.