A client had expressed frustration at the fact that her husband was showing much more progress compared to her. They were working out the same amount and pretty much eating the same foods, but although she was proud of her husband, she was also confused about why the same amount of work and effort didn’t bring her the same monumental transformation which her husband had. In the midst of her frustration, I realize her concern is not unique. You see, weight-loss is part physical, part mental, and part biological and when it comes to biology, we have zero control over the DNA and the body we’ve been given. The good news is that it doesn’t mean that we can’t overcome the challenges which are innate to achieving a healthier self, but there are more scientific explanations to this and here are the facts to face:
#1 - More Testosterone in Men
Thanks to biology, men possess more testosterone in their bodies, which leads to a greater percentage of muscle versus fat. While women produce more estrogen and progesterone which tends to promote more fat storage. The result of this places men at an advantage because when it comes down to it more muscle equals to more calorie burn, “as the amount of muscle mass an individual has is directly proportional to metabolism, and thus caloric expenditure.” (3) The fact to face here is that the truth of each journey is in our DNA and biology.
#2 - A woman’s body requires more fat to be healthy
Let’s remember that fat (despite the terrible rapport it gets) is an essential component to health and the body’s ability to survive. “A certain amount of body fat is necessary for insulation and thermoregulation, hormone production, cushioning of vital organs, and maintenance of certain body functions.” What is important to recognize is, when it comes to weight-loss, there are different needs between the genders. “For men, essential body fat is between 2-5%; for women, it is between 10-13%. The remainder of body fat is stored throughout the body in adipose tissue..., acting as a readily available source of energy or to cushion and protect vital organs.” (3) In other words, part of a woman’s biology is geared to hold onto fats, because aside from the internal functions fats assists with, fats are also essential for a woman’s reproductive abilities.
#3 - Science reveals, men are wired differently when it comes to being HANGRY (hunger driven anger)!
Whether a woman is hungry or not, a woman’s response to food is different to how a man reacts to food. In a study by, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences conducted in 2009, brain scans reveal that even if a woman is not hungry the region of the brain which controls the drive to eat is activated simply by being shown food. This is not the case for men (1). What this research reveals is that women tend to eat, not just because they’re hungry or to satisfy a biological need. For women, there is a labyrinth of motivations when it comes to eating.
#4 - Women are prone to more hormonal shifts
Concluded in a 2013 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women are more emotional eaters compared to their male counterparts. This emotional drive towards food also causes a secondary impact to reach towards “foods that will ignite the reward center of the brain, which tends to be the sugary, fatty, salty, hyper-palatable foods,” which are also food which are likely to cause weight gain, says Pamela Peeke, author of “The Hunger Fix: The Three-Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction.” (1)
#5 - Fat Distribution
Generally, men will hold more excess fat around the belly area, while women’s fat storage is more spread out across the body. When it comes to weight-loss, men who lose weight will appear to have more progress because excess fat is contained around the belly area which is a prominent and more noticeable area. For women, because fat is distributed in all areas of the body, weight loss is less noticeable and is more gradual in its progression. (4)
It’s important to understand that eating and weight-loss is a much more complex topic than what tends to be portrayed. Beyond the physical aspects, eating and weight-loss is also about the mental conditions in which each individual operates from. What’s critical to recognize is that there is no such thing as a one size fits all solution. We’re all different. From our DNA and biological makeup down to the environments we live in. What matters most is about recognizing the unique aspects of each individual body, each life, and each progress. It’s also about taking matters into our own hands and making educated decisions on what will work best for us. There may not be one solution that’ll work for everyone, but the greatest news is that there is a solution that’s right for you that’s waiting to be discovered. So ask yourself, what is right for you and make it happen!
1 Allen, Jennifer Van. “Why It Really Is Harder for Women to Lose Weight.” The Washington Post, 12 Aug. 2014, www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/weight-loss-it-really-is-harder-for-women-research-shows/2014/08/12/0a95c1aa-1d9b-11e4-ab7b-696c295ddfd1_story.html?utm_term=.e2ffe7049018.
2 Green, Daniel J, and Cedric X Bryant, editors. ACE's Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals. American Council of Exercise, 2010.
3 Bryant, Cedric X., and Daniel J. Green. ACE Personal Trainer Manual: The Ultimate Resource for Fitness Professionals. 5th ed. San Diego, CA: American Council on Exercise, n.d. Print.
4 “Do Men Lose Weight Faster Than Women?” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/diet/features/do-men-lose-weight-faster-than-women#2.