Is It More Difficult for Women to Lose Weight?

You, as a woman, are measuring every morsel and spending all of your non-working hours on the treadmill, and the scale barely moves. The men in your life, however, stop eating dessert for a week and are down a few pant sizes. What gives? Is it really that much easier for men to drop extra pounds?

The short answer is: yes. Men typically burn more calories at rest, work out differently, and don’t face the same hormonal challenges. Men may also have a healthier approach to weight loss that serves them well on the scale.

Metabolic differences

Men usually carry more muscle than women and, as a result, burn a greater number of calories all day long. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat. On average, a man’s metabolism is up to 10% higher than a woman’s.

Men aren’t afraid to lift heavy weights at the gym, either, which further improves their metabolism and supports weight loss. Women often favor fast cardio to burn calories, but with cardio, you don’t get the long-lasting metabolism boost that comes with strength training.

Hormone differences

After a workout, women’s hunger hormones turn on. Ghrelin, which increases hunger, spikes after exercise, while leptin, which triggers satiation, reduces. But this effect only happens in women; men don’t have the same hormonal responses following a tough session at the gym.

This hormonal difference may be due to the biological roles of women and men. Ultimately, nature wants to protect a woman’s reproductive capacity. If she’s in a calorie deficit, it can interfere with her fertility, so biology makes it so the body does everything possible to avoid that scenario.

The predominant female sex hormones of estrogen and progesterone also make women more prone to strong food cravings. Testosterone is a hormone present in both men and women, but men tend to have 15-20 times more of it. It actually contributes to muscle building and fat loss, which means women are at another disadvantage.

Women are also more prone to thyroid dysfunction than men. A sluggish thyroid promotes weight gain and makes it super-hard to lose weight.

Lifestyle differences

Women are more likely to be comfort eaters than are men. If they’re emotionally upset, stressed, or depressed, they may reach for a pint of ice cream a lot sooner than a man would. If these derailments become regular, weight loss is difficult to achieve even if you’re following a generally healthy plan at other times.

Women are more prone to extreme dieting strategies to achieve results, such as skipping meals or juice cleanses. While these strategies may seem to promise fast results, quick weight-loss schemes often lead to bingeing or to quick weight gain right after you go back to your regular habits.

So, while both sexes may struggle with weight loss and some men struggle more than other men, women are at the greatest weight-loss disadvantage. This doesn’t mean you should give up on efforts to achieve a healthy weight, however.


Dr. Roza Israel and the team at I & R Medical Services, P.C., in Forest Hills, New York, are available to help you with medically supervised weight-loss programs to fit your needs, lifestyle, and health. Request an appointment today to get on track to seeing the results you want.

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