Ladies, have you ever gone on a diet with your significant other? Did he shed pounds with minimal effort when it seemed like you had to work really hard? Is it really harder for women to lose weight? The truth is, yes, it is. It also becomes more difficult as we get older. Is it time to throw up the white flag and give up? Of course not! Let’s look at some of the reasons why it is harder for women to lose weight and what to do about it.
The first factor is purely biological– men tend to have more muscle mass than body fat than women. Having a higher muscle mass means that you can take in more calories per day and you will burn more calories at rest. Most women tend to stick to cardio exercises at the gym due to fear of bulking up. Try adding resistance workouts to build some muscle without the bodybuilder look.
Women are more likely than men to be emotional eaters (think eating with boredom, sadness, timing of menstrual cycle). Emotional eaters are likely to choose foods that are fatty, salty, sugary, leading to weight gain.
Women are also more likely than men to take an “all or nothing” approach to dieting. For example, if a woman slips a little bit on her diet, she is more likely than her male counterparts to say “Well, I already blew it, may as well make the most of it today.” It is better to pull yourself back up and get back on track.
Women are also more likely to participate in crash-style diets such as skipping meals, juice cleanses, and fad diets. These are not sustainable long-term solutions for weight loss as they do not correct bad habits.
Hormones (of course!)
As women, our hormones fluctuate a lot throughout our lives.
With pregnancy, women put on weight and more body fat. This can be difficult to get rid of when the baby is actually here because new mothers usually do not sleep enough or exercise enough.
About 5-10% of women struggle with PCOS which can make it more difficult to lose weight.
In menopause, women tend to gain weight around the abdomen area due to decreased metabolism and hormone fluctuations. The dip in estrogen makes it more difficult to lose weight.
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition much more common in women than men. The risk also increases with age.
Hypothyroidism is associated with symptoms such as weight gain, depression, constipation, intolerance to cold, dry skin, changes in hair texture, and irregular menstrual cycle. Thyroid problems are diagnosed with a simple blood test which can be performed by your primary care provider. Hypothyroidism is easily treated by medication.
How do I lose weight?
Losing weight and keeping it off is easier said than done. It is a process that requires daily attention and motivation.
Keep in mind that 1 pound of fat is 3500 calories. So, to lose 1 pound per week, you need a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day through diet and/or exercise. Women who want to lose weight should aim for about 1200-1500 calories per day. For men, 1500-1800. Of course, this varies from person to person. Talk with your primary care provider or a dietitian to figure out what is right for you.
You can log calories through apps like My Fitness Pal or Calorie King to monitor your progress. It’s good to keep a log to see what you are actually taking in day to day and figure out where you can improve.
- Include resistance training with gym machines, Pilates/Yoga, resistance bands, free weights, or use your body for push-ups, squats, or lunges. A personal trainer would be a good idea if you’ve never been a gym person.
- Increase your activity in general– take the stairs, park far away from the store, etc.
- Cut out alcohol– yes, really! Alcoholic drinks are empty calories. Think of that glass of wine or cocktail as a treat rather than a daily occurrence.
- Ditch soda and other sugary drinks. Again, empty calories. Try to stick with water as much as possible.
- Adequate sleep. You should aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Any less than that will interfere with the hormones that make you more hungry (ghrelin, leptin).
- Plan ahead. This is really important. Plan meals ahead so that you don’t just head to the nearest fast food joint for lunch when you’re on the go.
- Don’t get too hungry. Try to eat every 3 to 4 hours during the day. When you are really hungry, you are more likely to overeat.
- Stick with whole grain foods over refined white flour
- Include as many fruits and vegetables as you can
- Choose low-fat dairy products
I hope this was helpful. How will you lose weight and keep it off? Any other tips that have worked for you? Tell me in the comments!
Disclaimer: Information contained in this post should not be substituted for medical advice. If you think you are having a problem, contact your own provider who knows your health history.