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Do men lose weight faster than women?

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Updated June 09, 2014

Man in gym on treadmill putting head phone in
Gary Burchell/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Question: Do men lose weight faster than women?

Answer: Yes, as unfair as it may seem, men do tend to lose weight faster than women. This can be upsetting, particularly when a man runs around the block a few times and seems to instantly lose 10 pounds while a woman's weight loss moves about as fast as a snail.

But, there are physiological reasons for that difference:

  1. Men have more muscle. This allows them to burn more calories, even when at rest.
  2. Women are predisposed to store and retain fat. Women have higher levels of estrogen, a hormone that works works to keep the fat on a woman's body so it's easier for her to get pregnant. That means women have to work harder to lose weight at the same rate as men.
  3. Men's bodies respond more quickly to exercise. Women's bodies, meanwhile, actually go into a sort of starvation mode, slowing the metabolism to hang onto more fat.
  4. Women may have a lower tolerance for exercise. Women have smaller lung capacity than men, which can make women feel as though they are working harder than men even if the women are working at the same level. This can also make exercise feel harder in the heat or high humidity.

This doesn't mean it's impossible for women to lose weight and, when you think about, excellent reasons are behind a woman's tendency to store fat. After all, creating and nurturing a new life is nothing to sneeze at.

It's always best to avoid comparing yourself to others, whether male or female, when it comes to weight loss. Everyone loses weight differently, and genes, along with hormones, play a large role in how quickly some people lose weight.

Sources:

Harms, Craig; Rosenkranz, Sara. Sex Differences in Pulmonary Function during Exercise. Med Sci Sports & Exerc. 40(4):664-668, April 2008.

Tarnopolsky, Mark A. Sex Differences in Exercise Metabolism and the Role of 17-Beta Estradiol. Med Sci Sports & Exerc. 40(4):648-654, April 2008.

 

 

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