Why Is It Harder for Women to Lose Weight Than Men?

If I had a nickel for every time a fellow female asked the question above, I’d have a whole lotta nickels. Of course, this wouldn’t make me rich or anything, but I have been meaning to start my nickel collection. ;)

Enough about nickels already. When a man and a woman both commit to eating a nutrient-dense diet and moving regularly, why does the man tend to see results faster than the woman does? I’ve not only heard people express their frustration about this, I’ve witnessed it firsthand—over and over again. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

When I was researching the subject of fasting the other day (more on that another time), I came across a relatable explanation of why weight loss is different for women than it is for men. It has to do with reproduction. The argument goes like this. Because the female body must be prepared to nourish a baby for nine months and then feed that baby afterward, calories are more precious to it than they are to a male body—or, as nutritionist Mark Sisson puts it, women are “more finely attuned to caloric deficits. For example, women’s levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, are quicker to rise after meals. They get hungry quicker.”

So when a woman reduces her caloric intake—say, by dieting—her body gets really anxious. It simply must be prepared to fulfill its reproductive purpose, and it looks for ways to make that happen. How? By hoarding what the woman feeds it and by not letting go of what it has already stored. Her body will do whatever it takes to make sure it is prepared to do its biological job.

For these reasons, if you are a premenopausal woman, a drastic reduction in calories each day may not be a path to quick weight loss. Instead, slow and steady wins the race. Stick with a nutritious diet and do some sort of activity more days than not, and in time you’ll be rewarded with a strong, fit body.

If your baby-making days are in the rearview mirror, on the other hand, then other factors come into play. Maria Atwood, CNHP, lends insight on this in her post “Help! My Body Is Getting Flabby.” At menopause our hormones take a big shift, our activity level tends to slow down, and certain genes our parents may have graced us with—like those for flabby arms, for instance—start to really show themselves.

While it can be discouraging to see the men in your world lose weight faster than you do, be thankful that your body knows exactly what to do for the survival of the human race. While you may never have thought of weight loss as something of such magnitude, your body does so on a daily basis. Pretty powerful stuff, don’t cha think?

Image from iStock/HASLOO

Paula Widish

Paula Widish, author of Trophia: Simple Steps to Everyday Self-Health, is a freelance writer and self-healther. She loves nothing more than sharing tidbits of information she discovers with others. (Actually, she loves her family more than that—and probably bacon too.) Paula has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Public Relations and is a Certified Professional Life Coach through International Coach Academy.

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