By Tom Hutchison  

You may have thought that it was just a myth; something that appears to be the case, but in fact is nothing more than an illusion; an exasperated reason that some would give for a failing diet or weight loss program.

But it turns out that women do in fact have a tougher time of it when it comes to banishing the pounds. Doesn’t seem fair does it? But that’s just the way it is, and it means that members of the fairer sex have to work that much harder to achieve the same results as their male counterparts. This disparity between girls and guys is the result of a number of influences, some of which are explained in this article.

Hapy woman working out at the gym with trainer

Body Size

One of the main reasons women are at a weight loss disadvantage is the way that their body is made up. The first and most obvious point is that women are generally smaller and weigh less than men.

Body size is one of the main factors for determining how many calories someone needs to fuel their basic bodily functions – the larger the body, the more fuel it needs to work. The same thing applies to the burning of calories when exercising. Because men tend to be larger, the extra work that their body has to do just to move them requires more fuel and thus burns more calories. So even if men and women are working at a similar level, by pure virtue of being larger, men are burning more calories.  

Body Composition

Now we move onto the fact that men, by design, have a higher percentage of muscle mass and a lower percentage of fat mass. Muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat, so even at rest, a pound of muscle will burn around three times more calories than a pound of fat. So, it’s not only their larger bodies, but also their greater muscle mass that allows men to burn more calories.

As well as having more muscle mass, men also find it easier to gain muscle mass, further increasing their ability to burn calories. Furthermore, women tend to have smaller hearts and lungs, meaning that their fitness levels are generally lower when compared to men.

Therefore, they are not able to exercise as hard or for as long, which puts them at a further disadvantage when it comes to weight loss. One final point on body composition is the type of fat that men and women have. Men tend to accumulate more visceral fat and women more subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat surrounds your vital organs and tends to be found around the abdomen, whereas subcutaneous fat is stored under the skin, and in women tends to accumulate around the hips and thighs. Visceral fat is not good from a health point of view, as it can cause heart disease, but from purely a weight loss perspective, visceral fat is burned faster than subcutaneous fat. So as well as women having a higher percentage of fat, it takes longer for them to lose it. I know; it’s all thoroughly unfair.  

General Activity Levels

Gender differences in body size and composition aren’t the only reasons for men being able to lose weight faster and more easily than women. Another reason could be the differing physical activity levels between males and females.

Numerous studies have found that females of all ages are considerably less active on a daily basis than their male counterparts. A report in the American Journal of Physiology found that on a daily basis, women would burn 16% fewer calories than men. The difference in body composition and size was partly to blame, but the researchers found that it was also down to the fact that the large majority of women were less physically active than men.  

Appetite Control

In a recent study it has been claimed, maybe somewhat controversially, that men are able to control their brains’ responses to their favourite foods, whereas women are not, therefore allowing men to have greater control over their appetites. Despite the fact that this alone does not provide any concrete evidence for why men lose weight quicker than women, there are other studies out there that suggest men are more focused and better at resisting food temptation. Furthermore, research suggests that women are more prone to emotional eating, i.e. eating in response to sadness, stress and other factors.   So there you have it. It all seems very unjust.

From what we have discovered, men have a distinct advantage when it comes to weight loss. While it may be possible for men to lose weight just by upping their levels of exercise, women are likely to have to alter their entire diet as well as increasing their activity levels. Nevertheless, despite the odds being stacked against them, women should not feel discouraged. Yes you may have to work harder, and yes it may take longer, but if you stick at it, and be patient, you will achieve great results; results you can be proud of.