For decades, probably eons really, women have suspected that men lose weight more easily than they do.
In fact, many women have been quite vocal about their beliefs in this area.
Smart men have kept their mouths shut about it. Some may even quietly nod in perceived agreement.
Those less-than-smart men (you know, the duller quills on the porcupine) were unafraid (dumb enough) to argue with their female counterparts. We can be reasonably sure those little chats didn’t end well for the fellas.
But until now, all the women had to go on was anecdotal and circumstantial evidence.
They shared anecdotes about how the men in their lives could eat anything and gain no weight or stop drinking soda and lose 40 pounds like they breathe.
They had circumstances to “back it up.” In many cases, the stories they told were close to, if not right on, the truth.
Well, it seems science may have vindicated all those women who seem helpless while they watched men beat them at the game of weight loss.
Science may be their proverbial Knight in Shining Armor – or white lab coat.
A study of over 2,200 overweight folks in Australia, New Zealand and Europe was recently published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism. (1)
The results? In a nutshell, men lose weight more quickly than women.
The adults all displayed evidence of prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar is slightly elevated. Prediabetes is strongly associated with higher risk of developing type 2 Diabetes.
In the US alone, over 30 million people have Diabetes, with 90-95% of those having type 2 Diabetes.
Here’s what we know about how weight and fat work for men and women.
Men tend to carry their excess fat as visceral fat, or fat stored around the midsection. Women tend to carry subcutaneous fat, stored in the hips, thighs and butt.
Why does this matter?
When visceral fat is burned, it tends to raise metabolism, meaning that even more calories (and fat) are burned by the body. While subcutaneous fat is important for bearing children and in relation to menstruation, it has no increased thermic effect on the body when it is lost.
Good news for men, not so much for women.
The study ran for 8 weeks. Participants ate a low energy diet (LED) of 800 calories a day. The study measured changes in weight, fat mass (FM,) fat-free mass (FFM,) insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome Z-score.
Here are the raw outcomes:
Men – had 16% greater weight loss than women. After adjustment for weight loss, they also showed larger reductions in metabolic syndrome Z‐score, C‐peptide, fat mass and heart rate. These are all good things.
Women – After adjustments for weight loss, they had larger reductions in HDL cholesterol, fat-free mass, hip circumference and pulse pressure. The first 2 are not so good. HDL is “good” cholesterol, generally seen as positive for heart health. fat-free mass contributes positively to maintenance of healthy weight and body fat, so less of it isn’t that great.
About 35% of all participants had returned to normal blood glucose levels after the study, thereby removing the threat of type 2 Diabetes.
So why the difference? It’s all in the structure.
Men tend to have less fat mass and more lean muscle. This creates a higher metabolic burn rate, making weight and fat loss easier and faster.
Because men are larger, thereby requiring more calories to maintain their resting metabolic rate (the number of calories required to carry out all activities except voluntary movement,) the 800 calorie a day diet favored them right from the start.
Lisa Young, PhD., RD, author of the book “Finally Full, Finally Slim: 30 Days to Permanent Weight Loss One Portion at a Time” said it’s just not fair.
She told the website Healthline: “Men have more lean body mass, and lean body mass is a more metabolically active tissue. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism. So, if you have a faster metabolism, you’re going to burn calories faster, and you’re going to lose weight quicker.” (2)
So can women overcome this disadvantage? Of course!
For those who are overweight or at risk of Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes or other obesity-related illnesses, every step in the right direction counts.
Make dietary changes that support a healthy weight and can be sustained over the long haul. Short-term, quick fix diets more often than not just create a rebound effect that can end up adding more weight instead of trimming it down.
Begin a sensible, lifestyle-matching program of activity and exercise. You don’t necessarily need to join a gym or hire a trainer, although as a trainer myself, I know that getting professional help in the area of exercise, nutrition, lifestyle management and accountability can be a game-changer!
Just start. Walk or begin a moderate exercise routine you can live with. If you’re prepared for something a but more involved, ask a professional.
The sooner you begin making positive changes, the better your odds of shedding the excess weight, improving your metabolic condition (and outlook!) and looking, feeling, moving and living better!
So don’t let this “win” for the men get you down, ladies. It isn’t over until it’s over…
Keep the faith and keep after it!
- Christensen, P., et al., Men and women respond differently to rapid weight loss: Metabolic outcomes of a multi‐centre intervention study after a low‐energy diet in 2500 overweight, individuals with pre‐diabetes, Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, August 7, 2018
- Holland, K., There’s Now Scientific Proof: Men Lose Weight More Quickly Than Women, healthline.com, August 22, 2018