Being the center of attention for beauty, there’s always a disadvantage for women when it comes to appearance. Adding influence from peers and media, it is no surprise for women to get frustrated after a failed diet. However, what really hits home to many is the rumour that men lose weight more quickly than women. Why is it that woman have to try much harder to obtain the same results? Or is that really the case? Many believe that men have an advantage when it comes to losing weight. There are countless of anecdotes featuring women struggling through a sweaty journey to lose a mere pound or two while men seem to portray this same journey just by cutting out junk food, hitting the gym and watching the weight drop off – a methodology representing simplicity. But what exactly is the real truth?
There are two key factors that contribute to the obvious results of short-term weight loss in men: distribution of body fat and muscle content. On average, women have between 6 and 11% more body fat than men. Therefore, despite a smaller calorie intake, women will maintain this higher average body fat content. One thing to keep in mind is that “fat” is not necessarily used in an unhealthy
context. It is true that women have larger fat stores due to their physiology yet this fat does not correlate to extra weight. If a woman contains 4% more fat than a man, it does not mean that she is 4% “fatter”. As for muscle, men tend to have more than women of the same age and weight. Testosterone is the main contributor of this through its effect on body musculature and fat distribution. In addition, the greater number of muscle tissue causes an increase in burning calories even during rest as it is metabolically active.
The media plays with this rumour as weight-loss programs accentuate the difference between men and women. When sedentary men and women start some exercise program, it highlights men losing more weight while women don’t. In one study, men and women were each put on commercial weight-loss programs such as Atkins, Slim-Fast and WeightWatchers. Initial results showed men losing twice more weight than women and three times as much body fat. However, when reaching the six month period, the rate of weight loss equilibrated between the genders. Men tend to lose weight where they need it – the belly and so it is more noticeable immediately. Women tend to have their fat stores spread out so immediate results are hard to see.
Overall, the process of shedding those extra pounds is hard work. It is true that men, due to their additional muscle tissue and testosterone portray better initial results when losing weight. However no matter what gender you are, as long as you stay committed to losing weight, the playing field to get to the final result is more or less the same.
Posted by: Alice Koh