Thursday, February 28, 2013

Men vs. Women

Recently my brother and his wife jumped on the weight loss wagon along with my mom and one of my sisters. It's so nice to be able to support each other, even long distance. After the first week a couple of them reported how many pounds they have already lost, and of course my brother had lost more than the others. This can be frustrating to the women in the family who are working hard to lose weight, but the fact is that men lose weight faster and easier than women.

Is that true? Really true? Or is that a myth? Well I have always thought it was true. It is what I have experienced in my own life. My husband can lose weight twice as fast as I do without even trying. Now if you looked at the last post you will notice that he is still overweight, and if you read the captions under the pictures you know that he has pretty much maintained his weight over the years. However, during the years that we have been married he has tried periodically to cut back on his serving sizes and to eat healthier. Whenever he does this he drops pounds so fast I get envious. He doesn't stick with it though so those pounds come back slowly.

So I did a little research to see if it was just my perception or if there is truth to this. I found 4 articles immediately that back up the theory that men lose weight faster and easier than women. Here is what I found.

  • The more muscle mass you have the more calories you burn. The simple fact is that generally speaking men have more muscle mass than women. Shape reports that since men have more muscle mass they burn about 20 percent more calories than women, even when they aren't doing anything at all! Genetically men are created to have more muscle and carry less fat due to their testosterone levels. According to the estrogen in a woman's body works to retain fat, making it easier for her to get pregnant. Therefore women retain more fat and have less muscle mass than men. My personal doctors have told me that one reason women genetically retain more fat is because that is where estrogen is stored in the body. 
  • Because of this difference in muscle mass a man's body reacts differently to exercise than a woman's body does. Men naturally shed fat and build muscle faster than women when exercising. The article in Discover Good Nutrition reports that "every pound of lean body mass you have burns about 14 calories a day, while every pound of fat you have only burns about 2 calories.  So, the more muscle you carry (and the less fat) the greater your daily calorie burn."
  • Women and men look at food differently. According to Web MD, Katherine Tallmadge, RD the author of Diet Simple says, "Men love their meat, and women are attached to carbohydrates". So men and women make different food choices when hungry. If a man has a food craving it is usually for some form of meat, or protein. On the other hand, a woman usually craves a carbohydrate and that carbohydrate is usually sweet!

  • Not only are the food choices different but the way a man's brain reacts to food compared to the way a woman's brain reacts to food is different too. Shape sited a study done analyzing brain activity in men and women after they fasted for 20 hours and were then shown their favorite foods. They were not allowed to eat the food however, just look at it. Afterwards the women's brains still reacted as if they were hungry while the men's did not. What does that mean? Apparently women's hormones interact with the part of the brain that triggers and suppresses hunger differently than men's hormones do. So there are literal differences in our brains regarding hunger and food.

So yes, as frustrating as it may be for women, men do lose weight faster than women. And yes, it does appear to be easier for them. So if you are a woman, don't compare your weight loss to a man's weight loss! The same goes for men. Don't compare your weight loss to a woman's and let your head get big or get all egotistical just because you will probably see faster and more drastic results. Just be supportive of each other and remember your bodies are different, they are genetically different and weight loss is going to go at different rates. This is true of anyone, not just between men and woman. Every weight loss story is unique to that person and comparing yourself to anyone else is not a good idea.

A good tip I read in the article in Shape is this "Eating with a guy is like going shopping with a friend who makes a lot more money than you - maybe you can't spend as much, but you can still enjoy the experience, and if you make peace with the fact that you don't have the same budget it can be very freeing rather than causing you angst." It's the same idea for weight loss. Everyone has a different budget, but you can still enjoy the experience and be successful within yours.


  1. It really can be frustrating but you are right - it is true that men lose weight faster than women. That's why we just have to lose weight for ourselves and try hard not to compare ourselves to anyone else.