FITNESS

Ask Dr. Phoenyx: Why Is It Harder for Women to Lose Weight?

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Reader Question: I’ve noticed that men can lose weight a lot easier than women. Why is that?

My Answer: Alright, here’s the deal. Yes, men do tend to lose weight more easily− or better said− men tend to lose body fat more easily when compared to women. For the average woman observing this and not totally understanding why, it can be very frustrating and somewhat discouraging. But what it basically boils down to are 2 major factors affecting weight loss in men versus women- one that you can’t really control, and one that you definitely can. That being said, once you fully understand these factors, you’ll be able to jump start your metabolism and lose weight a lot easier than the average woman.

So let’s start with the factor that you can’t control: Physiology. From just a strictly physiological standpoint, men tend to have more muscle mass than us ladies. And since more muscle means a faster resting metabolism, throughout any given day, a man’s body will naturally burn calories at a faster rate than a woman’s. So if we were to put the average man and the average woman side by side, while allowing them to workout the same and eat the same diet, it would certainly take a little bit longer to see the same weight loss results in the woman.

Now let’s move onto the factor that you can control: Behavior. Another reason why men tend to lose weight faster than women is their approach to training and general fitness. It’s no secret that men love weights, while women love cardio. Furthermore, most women are completely oblivious to the fact that strength training trumps steady-state cardio when it comes to torching calories, burning body fat, and boosting overall resting metabolism. Why is this so? Because muscle is the key to body transformation. Remember what I mentioned earlier about men tending to have more muscle mass, and more muscle meaning a faster resting metabolism? One you understand this, it becomes pretty clear what you need to do to burn fat faster- Strength train and build more muscle! It’s really as simple as that.

To better illustrate my point, take a moment to mentally picture your gym. You go in and you immediately see the men and women divided between the weight training area and the cardio machines like the treadmill and ellipticals. Ever noticed how you never see some of these guys on cardio machines, but they still have six packs and chiseled bodies. Ever wonder why? Strength training is the reason why. These men know that preserving (and building) lean muscle mass is the key to getting ripped and fit. So that’s what they focus on- strength training. And truth be told, while cardio is indeed good for overall health and fitness, you don’t need to do a lick of “traditional” cardio to lose body fat.

As a bonus, I also want to mention a third factor that influences gender differences in weight loss, and is a psychological factor that women tend to struggle with. Research shows that women usually have more of an emotional attachment to food than men. Furthermore, when experiencing an emotional low, women are more likely to eat poorly in order to compensate for their feelings. Men, on the other hand, are less likely to have this kind of psychological issue with food, and are thus less likely to overeat in response to stress.

Bottom line: Women can successfully lose weight like men− it just takes a little more effort and strategy on our part. Furthermore, when it comes to weight loss, the smartest and most strategic approach is to add total body strength training to your fitness routine so you can reap the metabolic benefits of increased muscle mass. Last but not least, be mindful of your psychological relationship with food, and don’t use food as a coping mechanism. And if ever you do slip up and go hog wild, just own the mistake and don’t beat yourself up. Hey, we all make mistakes. However, in that same vein, once the mistake has been made, also make a solid commitment to learn how to deal with your emotions in healthier ways, and get right back on track the next day.

And that’s all folks. Thanks for the great question!

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