YES! Believe it or not, there really is inconsistencies in the way males and females diet, lose weight and respond to exercise.
These discrepancies come from multiple factors, including biology and behavior. At first glance, men seem to have an advantage but that does not mean that guys have it easy. Regardless of your gender or your weight loss goals, the path to your goal body composition is difficult at best, and can be puzzling for anyone.
The research gathered about these differences brings about hope that the next transformation of diet and weight management will be more effective and personalized to individuals’ needs. The old weight loss theories consisted of a simple equation. That being, losing more calories than you take in will cause healthy weight loss but it is showing to be a much more complex process than that alone.
What we feel is the most important factor is the connection between muscle composition and metabolism. It may seem obvious to you that males tend to have more muscles than females. Why is this important in weight loss? Because muscles burn more calories than fat does, even when at a resting state. This is why men, on average, have a much higher metabolism than women, meaning they burn between 3 to 10 percent more calories than women with the same amount of (or no) effort.
This difference is clearly shown when you take a look around the gym. Females who work out are often worried about “bulking up” and will lift lighter weights and concentrate mainly on endurance activities (i.e. treadmills). Men on the other hand will often practice heavy lifting habits that focus of building muscle mass. This will naturally boost their metabolic rate (or metabolism). Click this link to find a great video that shows the important role that muscle mass plays on metabolism and explains the difference of fat loss vs weight loss.
Even when it comes to diet, there is research that shows that men and women’s brains act very differently from one another. This was shown in a study published in January 2009. Through this study, although women said they weren’t hungry when asked to smell, taste and observe fattening foods such as pizza, cinnamon buns and chocolate cake, brain scans showed activity in the regions that control the drive to eat (not the case for men).
Surprisingly, major differences can even be seen at a molecular and biochemical level. This is illustrated with the help of ghrelin (a hormone that increases hunger in the body) and leptin (a hormone that tells the body it is satisfied or full). For females, ghrelin levels skyrocket and leptin levels dramatically drop after a workout causing an almost uncontrollable urge to eat. These changes are not seen in men though.
What could be the cause for all of these major differences? Many experts believe it is due to an evolutionary set of traits. It helps women naturally counteract energy deficits to sustain fertility and preserve their bloodlines. It would be impossible to harbor life within themselves without the proper amount of nutrients and calories.
There is more to blame than simply biology though. There are also emotional and behavioral issues that can sabotage a women’s chances at weight loss. Many women gain weight right after they get involved in a new relationship because they try eating as at the same frequency and quantity as their significant other.
You must also then look at a common concern in the world of weight loss, and that is what influences an individual to eat. Is it that the person is genuinely hungry or is there some other reasoning behind the craving? It should not be all too surprising to hear that a study in 2013 published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proved women are generally more emotional eaters than men.
This may surprise you though. Did you know that there are actually different kinds of emotional eaters? Emotional, or impulsive, eaters can eat for a plethora of reasons, including Social, emotional, situational, thoughts and physiological. If you think you may be an emotional eater and wish to learn more about the why’s and when’s of it, check out this website on weight loss and emotional weighting habits.
One thing that most of these emotional eaters have in common is that they are inclined to gravitate towards foods that will trigger the reward center of the brain. This can be toxic because these foods tend to be the sugary, fatty, salty, hyper-palatable foods that can cause to fat gain and weight retention.
There are similarities between men and women though, such as the disposition towards an all-or-nothing approach to weight loss (for example, after a binge, figuring, “Well, I blew it. I might as well go all out!”). Although this is true, experts often claim they see more women take extreme measures to get back on track, with tactics such as detoxifying cleanses, meal skipping or extreme and restrictive diets. This may seem like a positive thing but none of these are very sustainable in the long run.
There is an area where females excel, though, and this is in their use of support systems. While men tend to go in alone which could cause them to quit in times of stress, women are more likely to reach out to friends, family, a dietitian or a group to help them reach their final goal.
You may be asking yourself, “How can I use this knowledge to my advantage?” Although it may be disheartening, we actually think of it as reassuring that biology is the only factor on your weight loss fate. When it comes down to it, it is strength, persistence and willpower that get you where you need to be!