The Science Behind Gender and Weight Loss?
A recent study published in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism looked into the connection between weight loss and gender, and the findings confirmed what was happening in my house: During an eight-week period in which 2,000 adults followed a low-calorie diet, men lost 26 pounds on average, compared to 22 pounds on average for women. In addition, the men lowered their body fat and decreased their risk for diabetes and heart disease. This is largely, in part, because men have more muscle mass than women, says John La Puma, M.D., F.A.C.P., a board-certified internist and clinical director and founder of Chef Clinic, based in Santa Barbara, California. In addition to muscle burning more calories at rest, the muscles are also where insulin receptors are, meaning that blood sugar is often metabolized more quickly in men than in women,” La Puma adds. The receptors allow insulin in the blood to bind with these muscle cells, which then creates glucose that the body can use for energy. Because men have more muscle mass, they have more insulin receptors attached to these muscle cells, giving them an advantage with their metabolism. This means that men typically burn 500 to 1,000 more calories during an average day than women, says Wendy Scinta, M.D., M.S., president of the Obesity Medicine Association and a board-certified bariatric physician based in Fayetteville, New York. “That equates to one to two more pounds of weight loss than women per week, if both are eating the same number of calories. Not fair—but true,” she says.
Here’s what else you need to know about gender and weight loss, so you and your partner can both lose weight and improve health.
Genes Determine Where You Lose Body Fat
Your genetic predisposition plays a significant role in how fat is carried on the body, so while it may seem like men shed abdominal fat first, there’s no real difference as to where on the body men and women will lose weight initially, says Scinta.
In addition to having less muscle mass and, therefore, a slower starting metabolism, women have another hurdle when it comes to weight loss: hormones. “In premenopausal women [especially during PMS, one to two weeks before a woman’s period starts], fatigue, bloating and carb or sweet cravings can be very difficult to control,” Scinta says. “During menopause, woman can have sleep disturbances (which by themselves leads to weight gain) as well as depression and anxiety.” These depression symptoms tend to drive women toward sweets and carbs, which cause the brain to release serotonin, a chemical that makes you feel good. Postmenopause, women are dealing with significantly decreased testosterone levels, which leads to a drop in muscle mass and in metabolic rate, Scinta says. It’s important for women to adjust their caloric intake during these hormonal shifts, particularly postmenopause, to prevent weight gain.
Because men typically have less of an emotional attachment to food and eating, they respond to more innate hunger signals as the driving force of their weight gain, adds Scinta. “Since most men carry their fat centrally, they have more weight-related conditions or diseases—one of which is insulin resistance that leads to metabolic syndrome and affects satiety. I find that if hunger is controlled, men will lose weight relatively fast,” she says. With women, the relationship with food can be more complicated, says La Puma. They may need to learn how to separate hunger from feeling lonely, bored or happy or other common reasons that cause people to overeat.
Both Genders Need to Work at Maintenance
“Maintaining weight loss has nothing to do with gender,” says Scinta… Click here to read the full article.