Why is weight loss different for women and men?
The fundamentals of weight loss are the same no matter who you are. If you eat less than your body burns (or burn more than you eat!), the mathematical equation will make you lose weight. Calories in: calories out.
But as any woman will tell you, it’s not always that easy for us. Why is that?
- Hormones: our hormonal make up is not set up in favour of fat loss. Women’s hormones are set to keep us at a certain level of body fat, for evolutionary reasons. And we lack large amounts of the hormones which are helpful for losing weight (testosterone, growth hormone).
- Lifestyle: today’s world makes weight loss difficult for anyone, but it hits women particularly hard. Food marketing and advertising target women (and their children). Cafes and restaurants serve up portion sizes which are one-size-fits all (when we really need much less). And it can be difficult to serve up smaller portions for yourself when feeding the family.
- Stress and sleep: lack of sleep and high levels of stress impact weight loss, and every woman knows all about those!
- Body mass: women are typically smaller and lighter than men, and this has a direct impact on how many calories we burn all day long. This is one reason why women need to eat so much less than men. And it is this reality that can make weight loss a challenge.
The keys to weight loss for women:
As a woman, if you want to lose weight, you need to do 5 key things.
- Calorie deficit: eat fewer calories than you burn (or burn more than you eat) to create a calorie deficit. This is crucial for losing weight.
- Exercise: you will also need to do some kind of exercise. It doesn’t need to be the gym, try classes, or sport.
- Move more: every day activity like more walking, mowing the lawn, carrying groceries will all boost your calorie burn.
- Sleep better: getting your sleep and stress under control will help your body shed fat, give you more energy for exercise, and help you manage cravings.
- Be realistic: remember that weight loss is harder for women. Be patient and don’t expect to see huge changes in a week. Play the long game. And be realistic about how many calories you need on a diet (it’s probably less than you think).
How women should use exercise to lose weight:
To boost weight loss, you need a combination of three kinds of exercise.
- Cardiovascular workouts: cardio burns calories, which will help create that calorie deficit. The type of cardio isn’t important, so choose something you enjoy and will actually do regularly. Work up a sweat. As well as helping you lose weight, it is great for your heart health.
- Strength training: you must do some kind of strength training in your weight loss exercise plan. This could be with weights in the gym. Or it could be body weight circuits, boot-camp classes, or working with resistance bands. Challenge your muscles to keep your metabolic rate high as you diet.
- Everyday activity: NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. This means all the activity you do which isn’t officially exercise. Increase this as much as you can, because it counts for a large percentage of your calorie burn. And it’s less tiring than workouts! Walk more, do more manual chores, use a basket instead of a trolley, wash the car… you get the idea.