Have you been working out recently with your male partner? Or maybe you’ve started a new diet together?
But hold on a sec…
Why is he losing more weight when you’re both trying just as hard?
Unfortunately, there are a few biological reasons why women have a harder time shedding pounds. It’s simply the way we are built.
Let’s have a look at the reasons why losing weight is harder for women…
Body Fat & Muscle Mass – Why Nature, Why?!
Generally speaking, women have more body fat and less muscle.
In fact, women have between 6-11% more body fat than their male counterparts.
The lower amount of muscle mass, on the other hand, can be linked to two things:
Men have larger muscle fibers
Women tend to have a lower proportion of lean tissue (2)
It turns out that the female hormone estrogen decreases the ability to burn calories.
Ultimately, this results in more fat being stored in the female body. Yikes!
A review by the University of New South Wales suggests that fat storage is nature’s way of preparing for pregnancy. (1)
Unfortunately, what’s good for reproduction is not so good for losing weight.
Metabolism – Women Are a Little Slower
By nature, women have a lower metabolic rate.
In fact, research suggests that a woman’s metabolism can be up to 10% slower than the average man’s! (3)
The combination of higher body fat and lower muscle mass affects the female basic metabolic rate. (4)
In other words, the number of calories your body burns while at rest.
However, this also means that female bodies need fewer calories to run normal body functions.
This includes breathing, thinking, and circulating blood.
Pregnancy – Weight Gain & Weight Loss
Gaining weight during pregnancy is absolutely normal.
After all, you’ll be needing those stored calories for yourself and the baby.
Depending on your weight before you were pregnant, you may have about 30 extra pounds coming your way. (5)
Have you heard of the saying that you will be “eating for two”? Well, it’s not quite like that!
In fact, the average pregnant woman only needs about 300 calories extra every day than they did before! (6)
Apart from the pregnancy itself, it can be difficult for new mothers to find the time to exercise and sleep – both of which are keys to losing weight.
After all, mothers tend to put the needs of their children first.
Menopause – Pros & Cons
Let’s take a step back to understand what happens during menopause.
As you get older, a change occurs in the balance of your body’s sex hormones.
Once menopause kicks in, your ovaries stop producing the same amounts of estrogen. (7)
As a result, your body no longer releases an egg each month! Yay!
But wait – we said earlier that estrogen increases weight gain, so shouldn’t you lose weight after menopause? Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Due to the loss of hormones, your metabolism slows down even further and causes you to gain belly fat. (8)
In fact, some women even have a name for that: the “meno-pot.”
However, hormonal challenges are not the only cause for weight gain at this age…
Aging & Genetics – Thanks Mom & Dad!
As you age, muscle mass usually decreases, and body fat increases. (9)
Losing muscle mass slows metabolism so you burn calories more slowly.
This will make it even more challenging to maintain a healthy weight!
This is normal for both men and women, but most women already have higher body fat to begin with.
In addition, genetic factors play a role in gaining weight during and after menopause.
If your parents have some extra belly fat, there’s a good chance you might develop some too. (10)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – That Pesky Insulin
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes menstrual irregularities.
In addition, it also jumbles up your hormones. That’s what makes it so hard to lose weight. (11)
The thing is that PCOS increases insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone that helps you digest sugar.
As you become resistant to insulin, your pancreas reacts by producing even more of it.
The problem is that too much insulin tells your body to store more fat.
This is especially true for your midsection! (12)
Estrogen vs. Testosterone
For better or for worse, estrogen is the culprit when it comes to weight gain.
The hormone stimulates the growth of fat cells and does not promote lean muscle development. (13)
Although testosterone is known as the male hormone, they do not have a monopoly on it!
In fact, your ovaries produce both testosterone and estrogen.
While the same is true for men, the issue is that women simply have more of it than men do.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should look for a way to increase your testosterone levels.
A dramatic increase in testosterone can lead to PCOS, greater weight gain, and heart disease. (14)
This is even more of a risk when you’re going through menopause!
Thyroid Hormone Levels
Thyroid hormones help regulate weight and metabolism.
Unfortunately, thyroid abnormalities are more common in ladies.
Hypothyroidism, or slow thyroid, can slow down your metabolism and promote weight gain.
The risk of hypothyroidism is especially high during pregnancy, birth, and menopause. (15)
So, What Can You Do to Lose Weight?
Don’t worry, there’s plenty you can do to lose weight!
1. Exercise – You Gotta Move It to Lose It
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but exercising is one of the best ways to lose weight.
In addition to losing weight, regular exercise has several mental health benefits, like:
Improved insulin resistance
Less anxiety and depression
But best of all, the more exercise you do the more calories you’ll burn!
2. Healthy Diet – Eat Better, Feel Better
You need to combine regular exercise with a healthy diet to get the best results.
While exercise will burn away the calories, a healthy diet will do wonders.
A healthier diet consists of two parts: quantity and quality of food.
First off, you will need to reduce the number of calories you eat.
Burning more calories than you take in creates a “caloric deficit” that will immediately result in weight loss.
You also need to look at what you’re eating.
After all, there’s a big difference in eating 1,000 calories of cheeseburgers versus the same amount of salad!
Stay away from the following foods:
Too many carbs
Processed deli meats and conventional beef, chicken, and fish
Trans fats and hydrogenated oils, like soybean, canola, corn, and safflower oil
At the same time, eating plenty of vegetables, especially leafy greens, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken, and wild-caught fish.
It is also extremely important that you drink plenty of water.
Many people confuse thirst with hunger. So the next time you feel cravings drink some water and see how you feel.
3. Healthy Sleep – Lose Sleep, Lose Weight Loss!
Sleep has a closer connection to weight loss than you might think.
While the nature of this link is still being debated it’s clear that poor sleep increases weight gain.
The problem is that sleep deprivation throws your hormones out of whack and increases food cravings. (16)
If you have any more questions on why losing weight is harder for women, you can always contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.