Weight Loss - Women vs. Men?

by Dr. S on November 15th, 2009

Have you ever wondered why it is so much harder for women to lose weight than it is for men? Has your husband ever gloated about his ability to lose weight versus you?

When it comes to losing weight, women are behind the eight ball for three main reasons: childbirth , hormones and muscle mass. It goes without saying that women are designed differently than men, externally as well as internally. Physiologically speaking, women are designed to carry more body fat than men because women bare children and men don't. During pregnancy and lactation, women require more energy and their extra body fat is there to supply it.

Females produce more estrogen and less testosterone than men. Estrogen promotes fat storage and testosterone promotes muscle development, and when women suffer from estrogen dominance (more estrogen than progesterone) and testosterone deficiency their fat storage capacity increases and muscle mass decreases.

Muscle tissue burns more calories than any other tissue and the more you have the greater the metabolic rate. Men typically will have more muscle mass than women and their ability to develop this tissue if far greater. Therefore, their fat burning engine is much larger making it easier to burn fat and lose weight especially during and after exercise.

The optimum or generally healthy body fat range for women is 18 to 25 percent and for men it's 12 to 18 percent. In other words, women and men who's body fat is within the ranges noted are less likely to suffer from conditions related to excess body fat such as heart disease, diabetes and various cancers.

So, what can women do to offset these physiological handicaps?

1. Check your estrogen (estradiol), progesterone and testosterone levels. I recommend having them checked by a qualified healthcare provider who utilizes saliva testing because doing so will reveal the active or bioavailable level of these hormones. This is important especially after the age of 35 (for most women).

2. Most women, as they age, will have more estrogen than progesterone, and this can be remedied by supplementing with natural or bioidentical progesterone. Testosterone can also be supplemented if too low.

3. Add weight training to your exercise routines. Lifting weights is necessary to develop muscle tissue, which in turn will increase your fat burning engine. Weight lifting routines should be designed based on your age, ability and health status (are there any underlying conditions like arthritis, etc.). Lifting weights will allow your muscle to become lean and tone. Don't worry, you will not get big muscles - remember, you don't have the testosterone that men have.

4. Eat a well-balanced diet including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, quality protein and fats based on your body composition and metabolic needs. Make sure that you get optimum amounts of protein based on these factors as well as your activity level. The more active you are, the greater your needs.

5. Follow the recommendations in The Naked Truth: Overweight, Ovewhelmed and Confused

Dr. Sardone


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