Why Do Men Hit Their Weight Loss Goal First?

Does this scenario sound familiar? A man and a woman, whether they’re boyfriend and girlfriend, coworkers, or brother and sister, start on the same weight loss path complete with the same diet and the same amount of exercise. Around a month or two down that road, the man looks in the mirror one day and finds some weight loss goals he’s been striving for. That same day the woman looks in the same mirror only to find herself disappointed. No, the man did not practice stricter adherence to his diet/exercise regimen. Also, the mirror was not magic. That’s just how we were built.

Oddly enough, men lose weight faster because they are bigger to begin with. In fact, how fast a person loses weight isn’t necessarily a gender issue. It’s more of a big person, little person issue. Whether a person is bigger due to his height, weight, or muscle mass, he has the physiological benefit when it comes to losing weight compared to a smaller person. Since men tend to carry around more height, weight, and muscle mass than women, their bodies need to burn more calories to function.

“Men are generally in larger bodies than women that require more calories and therefore can create larger caloric deficits,” Joey Gochnour, registered dietitian nutritionist and certified personal trainer, told Medical Daily in an email. “Because their caloric needs are higher, any modifications they make will create larger caloric deficits. A larger body’s organs will take more calories than a smaller person’s organs, so their basic burn rate of calories is larger to begin with. A small female’s body will not burn as many calories a day as a larger man’s, and any caloric deficit she creates will not be as large as a man’s caloric deficit.”

What If Women Step It Up In The Weight Room?

Although there is very little a woman can do to change her height, she can do something to change her muscle-to-fat ratio. Some women have the distorted preconceived notion that if they hit the actual free weight section of their gym they’ll end up bulky and less feminine. Building muscle via strength training is a girl’s best friend when it comes to losing weight. Muscle naturally burns more calories than fat — even while at rest. Strength training doesn’t necessarily mean loading up the squat rack or bench press. Women can build muscle just as efficiently with body weight exercises, such as pushups and pull-ups.

Male Vs. Female Weight Loss

Unfortunately for women, men yet again have the advantage when it comes to building muscle thanks to the natural male hormone, testosterone. Yes, testosterone is produced naturally by the Leydig cells found in a man’s testicles and a woman’s ovaries. Men just produce the hormone in larger quantities compared to women. Evidence has shown that testosterone increase muscle mass by increasing muscle protein synthesis, the rebuilding of muscle tissue.

A recent study conducted at the University of Missouri set out to determine what disparities exist among men and women at the gym. Lead researcher Prof. Jill Kanaley and her colleagues recruited 75 obese men and women who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Each participant had their heart rate and blood pressure monitored while completing an isometric handgrip test — continually squeezing an object with force for a couple of minutes. Not only did men lose more weight and experience more cardiovascular benefits compared to women, but women had to perform 20 percent more exercises to achieve the same benefits as men.

What Happens In The Long-Term?

Don’t worry ladies, not all is lost. Men may be losing all that weight in the first few months of their diet and exercise routine, but women do catch up eventually. Researchers from the UK recruited 201 overweight and obese women and 77 overweight and obese men who were asked to follow one of four dieting regimens, including Atkins, Slim-Fast, Weight-Watchers, and Rosemary Conley’s Diet and Fitness Plan, for two to six months.

Much to the dismay of each female participant, men had lost twice the amount of weight and three times as much weight as women two months into their dieting regimen. However, that gap in weight loss started to narrow out as both genders continued their diet. By six months, the rates of weight loss among both men and women were identical.