There are many factors that go into weight loss including uncontrollable factors like genetics, sex and age. Most people assume that men lose weight faster than women, but is this true?
There are many physiological reasons why men can lose weight faster than women, but it isn’t always true long term. Here are some reasons of differences in weight loss between men and women.
Women primarily have estrogen and progesterone hormones, while men have primarily testosterone hormone. These hormones can all influence where fat is stored in the body. Testosterone will promote fat storage around the belly (apple shape), and estrogen primarily promotes fat storage around the lower body and hips (pear shape).
Women’s hormones will promote a higher fat storage than testosterone which is why women naturally have higher body fat percentages than men. This design makes sense because women need a higher fat content because of child bearing reasons.
Testosterone can contribute to a higher metabolism which may be another reason men can lose weight faster than women. If hormone levels are off then this will affect metabolism and weight loss efforts. There are many hormones involved with weight regulation, so keep in mind these are only two of the hormones that contribute to weight balance.
After menopause, women’s estrogen levels will be lower. This is one reason why abdominal weight gain is more common after menopause in women.
Generally speaking, men are naturally set up to burn calories faster than women. Men have a higher metabolic rate because of hormones, as mentioned above, and also because men on average have a larger body size and more muscle mass compared to women. Women are also more likely to go on low calorie diets which can lower metabolic rates.
Initial weight loss or long term
A 2014 study from British Journal of Nutrition studied women and men who went through 4 different commercial weight loss programs to analyze the difference between weight loss for men and women.
After two months, the men had lost twice as much fat free mass and three times as much fat mass than women for each diet.
According to this study, yes men did lose weight faster than women.
However, a percentage of weight loss was attributed to losing fat free mass. So, even though they lost more weight, they lost more muscle because they had more to start with. (See also: How to lose body fat without losing muscle)
Over time, fat free mass loss in men was balanced out with the women. At the end of the trial, weight loss between both groups were similar.
Where is the weight coming off?
Men may lose weight more quickly than women initially, but long term women and men can lose weight at about the same rate. Since men usually have most of their fat stored near the belly, weight loss can be more noticeable because weight is coming off a central location.
Women, on the other hand, usually have their fat stores more spread out through the body. Because of this, weight loss may not be as noticeable compared to men.
The rapid loss of fat free mass that is found more in men can also be very noticeable which happens at the beginning of weight loss.
Any benefits for women?
So, it seems that men have the higher metabolic rate, have higher testosterone which promotes muscle growth and can help speed up weight loss. Are there any advantages for women?
One benefit to remember is that women can have the same weight loss results as men, as concluded by the 2014 study. It will probably just look more slow and steady compared to men.
Women naturally have a higher fat percentage than men because of hormonal and physiological differences.
However, since women primarily store fat in a pear shape, this is a health benefit over storing fat primarily in the abdomen (apple shape) associated with men.
Storing extra body fat around the mid-section is associated with increasing health risk for cardiovascular disease, but storing fat in the lower body does not have the same risk.
Keep in mind though that after menopause women are more likely to store more fat in the mid-section. Genetics will also determine fat storage. Make sure you also read:
- 10 Weight Loss Tips for Women
- 10 Benefits of Strength Training for Women
- 5 most effective exercise tips for women
- How to get a toned body for women – Part 1, Introduction
Men can typically lose weight faster than women because of different hormones and due to the fact they have more lean tissue loss during initial weight loss compared to women. Men usually have a higher metabolic rate compared to women which is advantageous when trying to lose weight.
Long term however, men and women tend to even out in terms of weight loss. Men will usually lose fat from the midsection first, which can be very noticeable. Women, on the other hand, tend to shed weight gradually from all over instead of a centralized location. Women usually have a pear shape fat distribution which is actually considered healthier than what men usually have, an apple shape.
References used in this article