It is indisputable that weight loss is a challenging journey. However, it seems that it tends to take a toll more on women. You may realize that a woman and her spouse may start a weight loss journey together. However, the scale of the woman may take longer than the man’s to budge. It can be demoralizing, and at times, it can make you raise the white flag. The question is, is it harder for women to lose weight? Or is it just a myth? Let us find out!
Why is it harder for women to lose weight? This is a question that most women on the verge of giving up want to know. It is not fair, and it is also not motivating to any woman who’s starting a weight loss program. In this article, we will be discussing the weight loss concept in women. We will also explain if and why it is harder for women to shed pounds and recommend various practices that can help you drop pounds quickly and perhaps at the same rates as men.
Women And Weight
Like men, different reasons push women to take measures to drop pounds. In most cases, women want to shed pounds to maintain an ideal or healthy weight. Achieving a healthy weight is critical as it helps you prevent health-related illnesses, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease (10).
There is no standard normal weight for women or men in that case. It is because many different factors come into play and affect your average weight. These include your muscle-fat ratio, age, sex, body fat distribution, height, and body shape (4).
The best way to determine your ideal weight is by calculating it. There are different ways you can do this. These include calculating your body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), body fat percentage, or waist-to-height ratio (4).
Typically, an American woman aged 20 years tends to weigh roughly 170.6 pounds. She also tends to be 5 feet and 3.7 inches tall, with a waist measure of 38.2 inches (13). Understanding these measurements is vital as it directs your weight loss goals.
For example, in women, a waist measurement of 35 inches and below is considered healthy (1). From the above measures, the waist measurement is 38.2 inches. You can set a weight loss goal of reducing your waist size to 35 inches by looking at this.
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It seems pretty unfair that despite women’s efforts to shed pounds, it takes pretty long to see the results. Contrary to popular belief, it is no myth that women take a longer time than men to shed pounds.
It is even more challenging for post-menopausal women to lose weight compared to ladies in other age groups. According to Medical News Today, this is because they tend to have a slower metabolism and less muscle (8).
Nonetheless, the fact remains that keeping off excess weight is more challenging for women than men. There are a handful of reasons why this is the case. They include:
Less Lean Muscle Tissue
Men tend to lose weight faster than women because they have more lean muscle tissue. Muscle mass affects your metabolic rate. According to Medical News Today, muscle mass has a higher metabolic rate than fat. It means that muscle mass needs more energy for preservation (6). Due to this, men tend to burn more calories than women, even when resting (3).
Your metabolism slows down as you celebrate more birthdays. Even with this in play, men tend to have a higher metabolism than women. Several factors explain why women suffer from a slow metabolism. These include less muscle mass and their sex. Men generally tend to have more muscle mass which increases their basal metabolic rate (7).
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Women going through menopause may also find it challenging to lose weight than men in the same age bracket. During menopause and perimenopause (the period leading up to menopause), women tend to gain extra body fat (2).
The weight gain is linked to several things, one of them being the drop in estrogen levels. Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone. Its low levels do not directly cause weight gain. However, it does contribute to increased abdominal and body fat (2).
The weight gain in menopause is also linked to normal aging processes and poor lifestyle habits. Medical News Today acknowledges that most menopausal women tend to become less active, which, as a result, reduces their metabolism (2).
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a hormonal disorder in women that leads to female infertility (9). Although it affects females in their childbearing age, it may extend and continue for years. Women with PCOS tend to carry extra weight, which is why it may be harder for them to lose it.
This weight is not only challenging to lose but is also linked to increased diabetes risk, heart disease risk, and metabolic syndrome issues (12). It is believed that losing 5% of your body fat can help in relieving PCOS symptoms.
By looking at these reasons, it seems that fat loss for women is tricky and challenging. However, it does not mean that it is impossible. Despite these challenges, there are several practices women can adopt to help shed pounds and maintain a healthy weight. They are as follows:
Practicing Healthy Eating
Of course, every other article on weight loss emphasizes healthy eating if you want to lose pounds. The thing is, though, most people tend to interpret this concept as they wish to fit their eating pattern.
For example, some people believe healthy eating means eating more fruits and vegetables. Others may think healthy eating means consuming foods without refined carbohydrates or sugars. Similarly, others may define healthy eating as consuming the required daily calories.
With such different healthy eating perceptions, it is not surprising that women have trouble losing extra weight. To shed pounds, you need to understand that healthy eating focuses on consuming a healthful diet.
- A variety of vegetables
- Protein foods, especially lean protein, nuts, seeds, and soy products
- Legumes like peas and beans
- Healthy fats like olive oil, fatty fish, and avocados
- Whole grains
- Whole fruits
- Unsweetened dairy products like cheese, yogurt, or milk
Such diets for women may help in either boosting metabolism or triggering fat loss. Sit down with your dietitian or nutritionist if you are considering starting a weight loss dietary program. They will advise you on the best dietary program, especially if you have health conditions like PCOS or diabetes.
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Doing Resistance Or Weight Exercises
As mentioned earlier, muscle mass can boost your metabolism and increase the number of calories your body burns, even at rest. So, women must target getting more muscle mass. One of the best exercises to help achieve this is resistance or weight training.
It is important to note that the rate at which you grow muscle depends on various factors. These include your genetics, certain hormones, and body shape (5). For example, if you have a mesomorphic body shape, you might build muscle faster as your body shape is muscular. However, if you are an ectomorph, you will likely take longer as you have a straight frame (5).
It is vital to seek a fitness trainer’s help if you are considering starting a resistance training program. There are different types of strength training activities that you can perform to build muscle.
They include lifting free weights, doing resistance band activities, exercising with stationary weight machines, and doing bodyweight activities (5). Your trainer will recommend the best resistance program depending on your fitness and activity levels.
Focus On Long-Term Weight Loss
It is no secret that most women want to drop pounds in days. However, healthy weight loss does not account for such rapid weight changes. With fat loss, you need to be patient. Most women tend to blame themselves for small changes on the scale months after starting a weight loss program.
Berating yourself does you no good. Instead, it only triggers self-sabotage and demotivates you into quitting. Experts recommend trying and getting the right mindset if you want to fight female weight gain for the long haul (11).
It does not mean that the journey will be entirely smooth when you have the right mindset and are patient. Of course, there will be some disappointments, especially if you have set unrealistic goals.
However, you will always be motivated to stay on track for successful and long-term weight management. Go back to the drawing board and evaluate your goals. We are all different, and the rate at which you shed pounds is different than that of your friend or spouse. Set realistic goals that will help you stay on track for the long haul.
The Bottom Line
Is it harder for women to lose weight? The answer is yes. Women may find it challenging to shed pounds for several reasons. These include having less lean muscle tissue, a slower metabolism, PCOS, and menopause.
But while this is the case, various practices can lead you to successful and long-term weight loss. These include healthy eating, doing resistance training workouts, and focusing on long-term success. Such practices will help you tailor your programs to help you maintain a healthy weight.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Assessing Your Weight (2020, cdc.gov)
- Best ways to lose weight during menopause (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Do Men Lose Weight Faster Than Women? (2021, webmd.com)
- How much should I weigh for my height and age? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How to build muscle with exercise (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How to increase your metabolism (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Is a slow metabolism the reason I’m overweight? (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Long-Term Weight Loss Extremely Hard For Post-Menopausal Women (2012, medicalnewstoday.com)
- PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and Diabetes (2020, cdc.gov)
- Weight Control (2021, medlineplus.gov)
- Weight-Loss Wars: Men vs. Women (2004, webmd.com)
- What are the best natural treatments for PCOS? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What is the average weight for women? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What is the best diet for women? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)