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Why Do Men Lose Weight Faster Than Women?

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When it comes to weight loss, many people believe that men have a natural advantage. That their chromosomal differences somehow effect the rate at which they lose fat.

And all the while you’re there trying your hardest to shift the scales but with nowhere near as much progress.

So is this true? Is it really harder for a woman to lose weight?

In this article we take a look…

Men and Women: Metabolic Differences

You and your male partner are relaxing, watching television. A thought crosses your mind. Who’s burning the most calories as we both sit here right now?

The answer? The man.

Why do men burn more calories than women?

The simple answer is that men have greater amounts of metabolic tissue than women. The most obvious differences being that men tend to be taller, weight more and have greater muscle mass. 

In fact, men have around 38% muscle mass in comparison to only 30% in females [1].

The additional calories they need in their diet helps to maintain and regulate their bodies. Without these, they’d lose that extra muscle they carry around.

Basal metabolic rate

Surprisingly, the majority of energy that you eat isn’t used during exercise. It’s used to maintain your vital functions such as breathing, brain function and muscle levels.

This process is called basal metabolic rate (BMR) and it accounts for 60-70% of all incoming calories.

So is there a difference between metabolic rates in men and women? 

Absolutely. The heavier body weight, additional muscle mass and lower total fat mass of men means that they burn more calories than women, even at rest.

Interestingly though, the difference becomes non-significant when BMR is adjusted for the difference in muscle levels. This shows that muscle is a key regulator of metabolism, regardless of gender.

Why do men burn more calories than women? They have more muscle.

Why Men Find it Easier to Lose Weight

A speedy metabolism will go a long way in the war against fat. So already, men have the advantage.

A large study from the UK found that men lost weight roughly twice as fast as women [2]. But women did catch up eventually.

The study determined how much fat and muscle mass a group of 287 men and women had. They then tracked them whilst they followed various commercial diets over a 6-month period.

At 2 months, men had lost twice as much weight and three times as much fat in comparison to the female volunteers. From two to six months though, the difference in weight loss between the two groups began to narrow until they were pretty much identical.

Testosterone boosts fat loss…

One of the biggest differences between men and women of course is sex hormones.

Men have more testosterone. Lots more.

Studies show that whilst women have around 75 ng.dL of the muscle building hormone, men have as much as 1000 ng.dL!

And this natural, anabolic hormone is a powerful fat burner.

Testosterone is an important regulator of muscle mass and protein synthesis. This means it’s responsible in part for maintaining your metabolic rate.

… but estrogen doesn’t want you to burn fat

Not only do you have less muscle and lower testosterone levels than males, you have more of the fat regulating hormone estrogen.

This hormone regulates your menstrual cycle, but it also plays an important role in preserving fat cells too.

This is because estrogen increases the number of alpha-adrenergic receptors in your body, which slow down how much fat you use as energy.

And according to research from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology [3], estrogen also reduces your ability to burn fat after you eat too.

According to the study’s research team, “females of reproductive age are in states of efficient fat storage, possibly mediated through reduced lipid oxidation due to estrogen, therefore increasing body fat for reproduction”.

Women are More Likely to Emotional Eat

There may also be more to the story than a difference in physiology too.

Whilst this may be a slight generalization to a degree, research does point to women being more emotionally attached to eating.

In fact, studies have shown that tiredness, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, tension, and stress are all triggers to overeating in women [4].

What is emotional eating though?

Emotional eating is when you eat for reasons other than hunger. And can result in anything from binge eating to negative associations with food.

Laitenen et al [5] found that in a group of men and women, those who were emotional eaters were likely to have higher body mass indexes – especially if they were women.

But Who’s More Likely To Put The Weight Back On?

For all of your efforts, sometimes your diet slips and you begin to put the pounds back on. Your weight starts to creep up and before you know it your back to square one.

But who’s more likely to do this?

According to research from the International Journal of Obesity [6], the answer is men.

In the study, a group of men and women were observed periodically over a 5-year period. This was after they’d completed a 15-week weight loss program.

Worryingly, only 3% of all participants managed to keep at the weight they achieved after the diet. But it was women that had better weight loss maintenance than men.

What Can You Do To Boost Fat Loss?

Although you might not have the fat burning potential of your male counterparts, there’s much you can still do to improve your physique and drop your fat levels.

Monitor your calories – aiming for a moderate calorie deficit helps to liberate stored fat for energy.

Lift some weights – incorporating regular strength training into your workout will boost your muscle levels and optimize your testosterone levels.

Get the edge – using a fat burner such as Instant Knockout provides your body with essential nutrients that elevate your metabolic rate and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

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  1. Jansen, I et al. Skeletal muscle mass and distribution in 468 men and women aged 18-88 yr. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2000; 89(1): 81-8
  2. Millward, DJ et al. Sex differences in the composition of weight gain and loss in overweight and obese adults. Br J Nutr. 2014; 111(5): 933-43
  3. O’Sullivan, A et al. Efficient fat storage in premenopausal women and in early pregnancy: a role for estrogen. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2001; 86(10): 4951-4956
  4. Nguyen-Rodriguez, ST et al. Psychological Determinants of Emotional Eating in Adolescence. Eat Disord. 2009; 17(3): 211–224
  5. Laitinen, J et al. Stress-related eating and drinking behavior and body mass index and predictors of this behavior. Prev Med. 2002; 34(1): 29-39
  6. Kramer, FM et al. Long-term follow-up of behavioral treatment for obesity: patterns of weight regain among men and women. International Journal of Obesity.