Men seem to win the weight-loss race every time, but that doesn’t mean women should get discouraged. There are some strategies you can use to level the dieting field.
Ladies, if you’ve ever tried to lose weight alongside your husband, partner, boyfriend, or any male acquaintance, you’ve probably experienced a little frustration when you compared your weight-loss rates.
If you’ve halved your calories while running miles on the track and still can’t lose weight as fast as he can, take heart: There is a reason for it. But don’t think men have it that easy — losing weight is hard work, no matter who’s doing it.
Why Men Lose Weight Faster
“It is true — men do lose weight quicker,” says Anne Wolf, RD, a registered dietitian and researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. And the reasons can be attributed to differences in the physical makeup of men and women and in the very different ways that men and women think.
“There are two physical reasons: Women have different hormones, and I think that impacts our weight-loss rate,” says Wolf. “Secondly, men have more lean body mass. That means their caloric needs are greater.” They can continue to eat a significant number of calories and still lose weight.
Men and women also tackle problems differently. Men tend to be linear thinkers and more businesslike in their approach to weight loss, while women are multi-taskers who become more emotionally involved in weight loss. “Men stick to their goals. It’s like a to-do list. In practice, I see women taken over by their emotions,” says Wolf. “Women will get sidetracked, so they don’t stick with their goals.”
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Why Women Will Still Lose Weight
The way you mentally approach weight loss “really does make a difference,” says Wolf.
She offers these suggestions to keep you from getting discouraged and giving up on your weight-loss plan when you feel your female makeup is working against you:
- Stay positive; it’s not a hopeless cause. “Women do lose weight and they do keep it off. Don’t use the slower pace as an excuse to not try,” stresses Wolf.
- Know that weight-loss strategies do work. Some women tend to throw up their hands, believing that nothing works, but that’s not true. “We have a lot of good therapies that actually do work to lose weight,” says Wolf.
- Start believing that you can do it. “Believe in yourself,” says Wolf. “Keep focused — it’s about consistency.” Even if you get bored or frustrated because you don’t think your plan is working, stick with it. Set goals for yourself and stay focused on those goals.
- Understand your challenges and limitations. “Know yourself,” says Wolf. “Each person is different.” She suggests asking, “What trips me up every time I try to lose weight? Do I eat when I’m sad or frustrated, or stop working out when I don’t have a workout buddy to encourage you?” Set yourself up for success by preparing for those roadblocks and figuring out in advance how you will overcome them.
Why Men Still Have to Work Hard to Lose Weight
Men do struggle with weight loss. Even if their bodies require more calories, they still have to work hard at it.
“I did lose weight quickly — at first,” admits John from Fairfax, Va. He lost a total of 70 pounds in a year, but while he lost 30 pounds in the first three months, it took him twice as long to lose the next 30, and three more months for the last 10.
John also dealt with his own weight-loss failures twice before finally succeeding. With inspiration from an older brother, he figured out how to do it correctly — by restricting his calories and building calorie-burning muscle through regular strength training, a weight-loss booster for both sexes.
No one can lose weight without diet and exercise smarts, hard work, and sacrifice. Make the effort to learn about the healthiest and most efficient ways to lose weight, and then enjoy your own success. Weight loss isn’t about winning a race; it’s about crossing the finish line at your own pace.