Weight loss is a journey of patience, commitment and steadfastness. While it is a difficult time for everyone, women in general seem to go through a lot of frustration when aiming to lose weight. The reason being either emotional or biological, it is usually harder for women to shed pounds and follow a standard diet plan.
The female body and mind works differently than men in countless ways. Hormones, emotions and female biology play a major role in maintaining these differences.
Here are some reasons why women find it more strenuous to lose weight:
This principal male sex hormone is mainly produced by the testicles in men and ovaries in women.Testosterone not only promotes male characteristics but also increases muscle mass.
Stating the obvious, testosterone levels are much higher in men than in women, but this hormone has a lot of functions in women as well.
Testosterone maintains muscle mass and enhances muscle growth and bone strength. Deficiency of this hormone not only decreases muscle growth, but studies reveal it may also promote weight gain. Muscles burn way more calories than fat tissue. Furthermore, lack of muscle increases the risk of eating too much and storing those excess calories as fats.
As women naturally produce lower amounts of testosterone, it is easier for men to lose weight when they have this hormone as an ally in their bodies.
The Hunger hormones
According to researchers from the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, Ghrelin and Leptin are the hormones responsible for natural weight loss and energy balance. Many experts refer them as the “hunger hormones” because they are released to increase or decrease our appetite.
Ghrelin is the appetite-increasing hormone whereas, Leptin is a hormone that decreases your appetite. Both these hormones work together to control hunger, energy balance and weight management.
The American Journal of Physiology revealed a study that showed that the level of hormone ghrelin rises after exercise in women and the hormone leptin drops substantially. This is in complete contrast of what happens in men after a workout.
So post-workout, women tend to feel hungry and eat a lot, which puts them at risk to gaining weight. Men don’t experience this hormonal fluctuation after exercise.
The female hormone that makes you a woman, is largely responsible for making the female body ready for pregnancy which propotionates to easy weight gain and a lower metabolism for better fertility. Estrogen also helps manage blood sugar, so when your estrogen levels are low, weight gain is bound to happen.
The more you have lean muscle, the more faster your metabolism, whether male or female. The reason behind this is that muscle burns more energy (calories), even when at rest. It is harder for women to build lean muscle whereas men tend to have hormones that boost muscle growth . A slower metabolism will mean that whatever you eat is more likely to get stored in your body as fat.
A 2009 study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined the brain responses of male and female subjects when exposed to the smell, sight or taste of different foods. This stimulation caused hunger area of brain, in female subjects, to get highly activated while there were no significant activation in their male counterparts. It was concluded that women respond highly to food-related sensory stimulation way more often than men.
Hence women tend to have higher sensitivity to food stimuli, and may have a difficult time resisting all those tempting foods.
Emotions and Behaviour
“Women tend to be more emotional eaters than men,” revealed a 2013 study of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This means that women might seek comfort in food when emotions like sadness, fear, guilt, anxiety, stress and grief, take a toll on them whereas men tend to reach for alcohol in such situations.
In an effort to feel better, women are prone to reach for foods that will stimulate the reward center of the brain leading to weight gain. This cycle is difficult to break and requires psychological treatment and counselling.
Women’s bodies have more fat than men do. Not only are fat deposits a normal part of hips and breasts, the female body also requires some amount of fat to be able to conceive, support and nourish a developing fetus. These reproductive needs predispose women to having more fat on their bodies and therefore having a more difficult time getting rid of it.
While women readily gain fat on the waist and hips, men easily accumulate excess weight around the abdomen, where it’s more noticeably lost when they go on a weight loss plan.
It’s not easy for women to target the fat on their bodies for training and exercise like men, because the fat on a woman’s body spreads throughout her frame.
Most women feel that lifting weights will make them bulky and though it seems to be true, it is just a myth because low testosterone in the female body doesn’t let muscles grow to the same level as men.
The best way for women to burn fat and speed up metabolism is through resistance training, that will build lean muscle mass. Also body-weight exercises like planks, push-ups, and squats also enhance muscle mass.
Not only does exercise build muscle, it also acts as a stress reliever and releases endorphins. Exercise can also stimulate brain’s willpower center and can help counteract emotional eating.
So what can you do with all this knowledge? Being aware of all differences and knowing your tendencies will help you choose a balanced approach to weight loss. Encourage yourself to better lifestyle choices as this is something that you are in control of, unlike your body.
Byline/About the author: Amanda Bentley has 5 years’ experience in the food and beverage industry and currently works as a Content writer at Qavashop (www.qavashop.com). Qavashop.com is an online store for all the “coffee aficionados” located in the GCC. Apart from providing its customers with quality coffee machines and consumables, it also provides them with skilled, knowledgeable advice on how to make their own restaurant quality espresso at home.