We all know that to lose weight it is essential to restrict calorie intake and do rigorous exercise to burn off excess calories. But, what if, for no fault of yours, you are genetically given the short-end of the stick? Yes, it is true it is harder for women to lose weight.
If you have also noticed that men find it easier and quicker to shed those extra pounds, then you are not day dreaming. There is a legit scientific explanation working in their favor. This difference is accentuated for people who weight above 200 lbs.
To understand why this happens, let’s first try to understand how people burn required and excess calories.
The amount of calories an individual (whether male or female) burns in a day depends on the following parameters:
- Calories burnt at rest (or Resting metabolism rate) to sustain various bodily functions.
- Calories burnt due to movement (Thermic effect of intentional activity) including calories burnt due to exercise
- Calories burnt in digesting food (Thermic effect of food) starting from energy required to eat the food to converting it into useful substrates and energy
- Calories burnt in spontaneous non-exercise activity undertaken by the body that are unintentional and can not be controlled
Thereby, total daily calorie expenditure for an individual =
Thermic Effect of Intentional Activity (Workout)
Thermic Effect of Food (Metabolism)
Thermic Effect from Non-exercise Activity (Unintentional reactions)
Typically, and quite surprisingly, Resting metabolism accounts for more than two-third of our daily calorie expenditure. Yes, that’s true, we spend most of our daily calories just by staying alive, even if that means resting all day.
A usual split of daily calorie expenditure for people weighing above 200 lbs looks like below:
Note that this splits differs from person-to-person depending on their age, current weight, level of activity, genes, and gender.
Yes, gender is equally important in triggering the automatic calorie burning process of the body. Typically, men have been found to have a higher resting metabolic rate (of about 85%) than women. Researches claim this to be due to higher proportion of lean mass. So, people with greater lean mass will have higher resting metabolic rates. In other words, people with greater lean mass can burn more calories without having to do any additional exercise.
In fact, higher resting metabolic rate is also directly proportional to the amount of food that is converted into lean mass. Yes, besides storing excess calories as fat, the body also converts them into lean mass.
In a study, participants were asked to consume 1,000 kcals extra each day for 100 days without doing anything else and were found to gain 1 lb of muscle for every 2 lbs of fat. Higher metabolic rate was found to be the reason.
Since, we know that women have lower lean mass concentration than men, two parameters work against them:
- Lower resting metabolic rate, so even if they consume the same amount of food and do the same amount of exercise as a similarly built man, they will find lose lesser weight
- Lower conversion of calories into lean mass, in effect, lesser amount of the food they consume will be converted into lean mass and greater amount of all excess calories will be stored as fat.
In addition to lower lean mass concentration, estrogen levels have also been linked directly to weight gain. It affects women both ways. Low estrogen levels slow down their metabolism, while high estrogen levels impede the capacity to burn excess calories or engage in physical activities. Read more about how hormones impede weight loss in women here.
Thereby, a 200 lb woman might eat like a 200 lb man, but she will burn calories like a 120 lb woman.
If you are looking to beat the system, give Ketogenic Diet a chance. It is better equipped and effective for women. We are not saying it, but scientists are! Read about the science behind Ketogenic Diet.