You may have heard of a woman starting a weight loss regimen with a male companion, and with both doing essentially the same things - eating well, hydrating and exercising - the man initially loses significantly more weight than the woman. It doesn’t seem fair, but there is a physiological reason for this.
If you’re a man, you can thank the hormone testosterone -- and the low amount estrogen you do have -- for your weight-loss edge. On average, women have between six and 11 percent more body fat than men, all built in for anticipated child-bearing.
I worked with a couple recently where both wanted to learn to eat well and lose weight. They had been fast food diners. His job required physical activity; hers was sedentary. They enrolled in my 6 Weeks to Diet Freedom on line program and we had weekly coaching calls. At the end of week 1, both were eating well, following my recommendations. She lost 1 pound. He lost a whopping 11 pounds! The difference? testosterone for sure, but also he was very overweight and had more to lose. Just stopping his 3-4 cans of soda surely made a difference not only in his weight but in his health.
What a study in England found, though, that the weight loss evens out after 6 months when both men and women continue the regimen.
The Magic of Muscle Mass
Here’s what’s most important to me: every pound of muscle you have in your body burns 38 calories per day. Every pound of fat old requires 9 calories per day. Men, on the whole, have more lean muscle mass, so that’s what gets the weight loss engines running initially for men. My sense is that as women continue to exercise through their weight loss program, they slowly build more muscle mass, allowing for more weight loss.
Adults begin to naturally lose muscle mass around age 38. Several factors account for that: a more sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise and poor diet. If you don’t consciously work at maintaining muscle mass, you will gain weight, because your calorie burning muscle mass is decreasing, even if you don’t increase your food intake. The good news is you will not struggle with weight gain if you eat high nutrient low calorie foods and exercise throughout life.
Reaching your goals in isolation requires enormous discipline. Most of the people I work with on nutrition and lifestyle issues know that, and realize that when accountability and positive support is available, they do better. My program offers individualized coaching for those who feel they need in person support, and online coaching for those who need tools like menus, shopping lists, recipes and motivation to reach their goals. You can read more about both on my Wellness and You Programs page.