Women Are From Venus
Why Women Struggle to Lose Weight
Pictuerd: Olivia Spry. Photographed by Glen Jones.
As you probably already know, women’s bodies store more fat than men’s do. Essential fat percentage is about 10–13 percent for women and only 2–5 percent for men. Essential fat is the amount the body needs to maintain basic physiological functions, so most people have higher percentages than this. There are several reasons women carry more fat than men. For one, women require greater fat reserves for reproductive functions. Hormones also play a role, as estradiol (a form of estrogen) suppresses fat oxidation, making it more difficult for a woman’s body to break down fat into energy. Women also burn less fat at rest than men do. However, women use fat to fuel themselves during exercise far more than men do.
So what does all this mean? Well, it means women need to take different steps to lose weight and maintain muscle than men do. Here are three big differences to pay attention to:
1. Men will be more successful at losing weight by changing their diet and not exercising much. Women, on the other hand, basically have to exercise if they want to lose weight. Nope, it’s not fair, but it’s true. Diet isn’t enough for women. The fat, which we store much more of than our male counterparts do, doesn’t metabolize as quickly at rest as it does for men, so we have to be more active in order to stimulate fat breakdown. Also, the fact that we use fat more efficiently during exercise might sound great, but really all it means is that we have to exercise to use up our fat and lose weight.
2. Women carry more fat in their lower body than men do because our bodies are preparing for pregnancy. Our bodies are designed to store specific types of fat in certain places in order to provide nutrients for a baby should we become pregnant.
“Whereas a man could go low carb Primal and lose weight pretty easily because all he ‘has’ to be able to do is provide a bit of sperm, a woman’s body has more important things in mind, like having enough body fat on hand to produce enough leptin for optimal fertility, or enough DHA stored in lower body fat to build a robust baby brain.” Mark Sisson, Mark’s Daily Apple
Well, that’s all well and good, but maybe you’re not trying to have a baby right now—you’re just trying to lose that stubborn lower body fat. The best way to go about this is through anaerobic exercise. Instead of spending hours on the treadmill beating your joints to a pulp, focus on lower body and full body movements like deadlifts, squats and lunges. And then when you do perform aerobic training, try high-intensity interval training, which burns fat faster and increases metabolism far better than low intensity cardio does.
3. Restricting calorie intake, if done the right way and with the advice of nutrition experts, can aid men in fat loss. However, it can actually cause women to gain weight. The female body doesn’t respond well to a lack of calories, and often reacts with weight gain, missed periods and blood sugar imbalances. Women trying to lose weight and/or maintain a healthy lifestyle should stay away from calorie restrictive diet plans and intermittent fasting. Instead, they should be eating a balanced diet of healthy fats, proteins and carbs, and staying away from refined grains, sugar and processed foods.
The takeaway from all of this? Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve got a male partner who makes losing weight look like it’s nothing, while you’re slaving away just trying to drop a few pounds. It’s nature—cruel, unfair Mother Nature. But hey, think of it this way:
“If you’ve been trying in vain to lose that stubborn jiggle on your thigh, consider that maybe, just maybe it’s there for a reason. Even if you’re not interested in having a child, it’s likely that the presence of lower body fat indicates good health.” Mark Sisson, Mark’s Daily Apple
Research shows that these female fat stores in the lower body are actually healthy. A good deal of the essential omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is crucial for the development of a baby, is stored in a woman’s thighs. So ladies, please stop freaking out that your thighs are touching a little bit. Of course, I don’t mean women should have excess fat down below, but having a little junk in the trunk is actually nature’s way of taking care of the next generation.