A few weeks into a new diet and exercise regimen, you may notice you and your male partner are losing weight at different rates. What’s going on?
Is it really harder for women to lose weight, even when you’re both trying?
Actually, it is. There are a handful of reasons why you may be struggling while the men in your life seem to easily drop pounds.
It’s Harder for Women to Lose Weight — Really
By nature, women tend to have a lower metabolic rate than men. This means your body uses fewer calories (units of energy) to fuel normal body functions like breathing, thinking, and circulating your blood. The leftover calories are stored as fat.
Plus, female body composition usually exceeds males’. In other words, men tend to pack on pounds made of more muscle than fat, lowering their body mass index (BMI). Muscle, conveniently for men, burns more calories than fat — even at rest.
For ages, people have asked, “Do women have a harder time losing weight?” Physiologically, women have an easier time hanging on to excess weight.
Another metabolic factor that can make it harder for women to lose weight is genetic makeup. Your mother, your grandmother, and your great-grandmother all had individual set points, which are theoretical weight ranges in which the body attempts to stay. Often, this set point is passed down and can work against your weight loss efforts.
Another gene you’ve inherited is your body shape. Studies have shown that women with common body types (like pear and apple, for example) are at greater risk of being overweight and obese.
Some women who try to lose weight want immediate results. They tend to cut entire food groups or substantially reduce calorie intake for quicker weight loss. As you likely know, this approach leads to yo-yo dieting, where temporary results are negated when the weight comes back — often even more than before. Incremental lifestyle changes work together for better overall health.
And it’s social
Next time you wonder why is it easier for men to lose weight, just remember: Restaurants serve equal portion sizes, and the bartender offers everyone another round. It’s up to you to determine your unique portion control and stick to it.
So, Why Do Women Have a Harder Time Losing Weight?
Clearly, there’s a combination of factors at play here. As women, your lower muscle mass burns fewer calories while resting, your determination may work against you, and the company you keep may lure you into eating more.
Make no mistake — men have their own set of health woes and need just as much support to stay healthy. Together, with the right information, both men and women can understand and help one another maintain an ideal weight.
Learn more about body mass index and how it plays a role in your unique, personalized weight loss journey. UPMC’s interactive BMI tool can help you get started.