June 11, 2021

Why It’s Harder for Women to Lose Weight

Do Men Have it Easy?

It can be fun and motivating to engage in positive lifestyle changes like better food choices with your partner. However, it can be discouraging when one person starts to lose weight more rapidly than the other. Unfortunately, all too often, it is the women in this pairing that pull the short straw. As a healthy lifestyle coach, I have worked with 100’s of clients embarking on weight loss journeys. Yet, so often, I’ll hear phrases like my husband lost twice the weight I lost in the first month, or, why is it so easy for my boyfriend to lose weight? In this article, I will enlighten you on why women may find it more difficult than men to lose weight.

Metabolism

On average, men have lower body fat % and more muscle mass than women. Men also weigh more than women. American men weigh about 200lbs on average. Women, on the other hand, average 160lbs. All of these factors play a role in weight loss or gain. The bigger you are, the more calories you burn each day. Muscle will burn more calories than fat, so men also have an advantage here. So now, let’s use the average man and woman and calculate how many calories they can eat each day. The man in this example can eat 2,600 calories a day to maintain his weight, while the woman can only eat 2,100 calories.

Do you see what I am getting at here? It is much more difficult for women to lose weight because they have to eat less food to achieve the same results. 500 calories is basically a healthy meal. So this woman would have to eat one less meal per day than her partner to lose the same amount of weight on average. That is a difficult task to ask of anyone.

Menopause

When women go through Menopause, many of their hormone levels begin to fluctuate and drop. This causes a wide array of changes in the body. The menstrual cycle ceases, hot flashes occur, and places where fat is deposited, can change. As estrogen decreases, fat deposition starts to move from the hips and thighs to the stomach. Menopause also causes your body to reserve energy more, which means you won’t burn calories and fat as easily. This can lead to weight gain. We also tend to lose valuable calorie-burning muscle as we age, which leads to needing to eat less not to gain weight.

So as women age, their bodies start to slow down and, through a myriad of factors, lose calorie-burning potential. This means they have to eat less and less food over time to maintain the same weight, which is not sustainable.

Menstrual Cycle

The menstrual cycle can derail a women’s attempts at losing weight for a few reasons. First, studies have shown that the hormone Progesterone, released during a phase of the menstrual cycle, can stimulate appetite. As a result, women may find that they eat more during this phase. Second, progesterone also activates another hormone, which causes the kidneys to retain water and salt. This retention can lead to a 3-5 pound weight gain. It can be pretty dishearting if you are using the scale as a marker of success and suddenly you see rapid weight gain over a week.

What to do About it?

The most important factor here in men’s vs. women’s weight loss is metabolism. If you can eat more food while still losing weight, you will have an easier time. Plain and simple. What is the best way to eat more food, you ask? Gaining muscle is going to be the best way by far at gaining passive calorie-burning power. The best way to gain muscle is through consistent compound weight training. Not only will you be burning calories during the weight training session, but you will have residual energy usage for hours afterward.

Motivation is fleeting, but discipline lasts a lifetime. Consistency is the most important part of success. Those who have the most success are the ones who never gave up. This is an important piece to internalize when you feel like calling it quits. For example, when you experience that monthly weight gain due to hormones, it can be easier to handle if you understand that it is only temporary and not reflective of your overall effort. If on a diet, always pair it with exercise to lose more fat and gain muscle.

In Summary

  • Women are generally smaller and have less muscle than men. This means they either have to eat less and/or burn more calories than men have to in order to lose weight.
  • Fluctuating hormonal levels can lead women to retain water and gain 3-5 pounds rapidly. Don’t let this temporary weight gain derail progress.
  • Gain muscle with consistent weight training to burn more calories daily. This will help you eat more and not feel as restricted.
  • Always pair diet and exercise to maximize results.

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