I am paraphrasing this article from Health 24 that I thought many men would like and many women would be a little disgusted with on how men can lose faster than women.
The “Secrets of the Sexes” series on BBC recently featured a fascinating episode on “Brainsex”. Zooming in on the brains of men and women, they concentrated on how the sexes differ in terms of emotions, empathy, problem solving and spatial orientation.
It was evident that the brains of men and women differ considerably.
This set me thinking about the differences between men and women when it comes to basic metabolism and ability to lose weight. I started wondering whether men have an advantage over women in keeping those kilos in check.
Let’s have a look at some of the most important factors that determine body to see whether this is true, or not.
Resting energy expenditure
Resting energy expenditure (REE) is defined as the amount of energy required to support normal body functions and to maintain the energy balance of the body (homeostasis). REE supports body functions such as breathing, the circulation of the blood, energy used by the nervous system and keeping our body temperatures constant (Krause, 2000).
The most important factors that determine REE are body size and composition.
Generally speaking, men are bigger than women. This means that they would require more energy to maintain REE. In addition, men tend to have a higher percentage of lean muscle tissue than women, so the metabolic dice are loaded against women when it comes to REE.
Because of their bigger bodies and higher percentage of lean muscle mass, men will have a higher REE and thus be less likely to gain .
Body fat percentage
Women have a higher proportion of body fat than men. This is a genetic adaptation which ensures that the female body is cushioned to bear children. The higher body fat percentage in women lowers their metabolic rates by 5 to 10% compared to men (Krause, 2000).
Thus, women need less energy to sustain their normal metabolism and will be more inclined to gain if their food intake exceeds their energy requirement.
Average men and women have body fat percentages of 14% and 24% respectively. Elite male and female distance runners, with the same body mass or , have body fat percentages of 5% and 10% respectively (Noakes, 1991).
If even our top female athletes have double the amount of fat in their bodies than their male counterparts, then ordinary women will generally carry more fat than ordinary men. Consequently, females also have a lower percentage of lean body or muscle mass when compared to men.
Lower VO2 max
Another factor that can hamper loss in women is the fact that they tend to have a lower VO2 max. The VO2 max is a measure used in exercise physiology to describe the maximum amount of oxygen an athlete can take up to use for exercise.
The unfair advantage
It is evident that men have a number of unfair advantages over women when it comes to losing weight. Most couples have experienced this when both partners go on a slimming diet and do exercise to lose : the husband loses more at a faster rate than the wife.
So, the female of the species has to work so much harder and stick to her diet for so much longer and do so much more exercise to achieve the same results as her male counterpart. This seems unfair, but it is a fact and there is nothing we, as females, can actually do about this – except to persevere, of course.
Women do need to eat less for longer and exercise harder to lose the same amount of as their partners.
The saving grace that counts in favour of women is that the female sex is much more motivated to lose and, in most cases, less susceptible to temptations when it comes to cheating. Female dieters won’t as easily succumb to a night out with the boys, which entails consuming copious amounts of beer and fatty snacks.
This may not seem much of a compensation to most women who struggle to lose weight, but if we keep in mind that “the hand that rocks the cradle, controls the world”, then women can exercise iron control and achieve their goals of loss despite the unfair advantage that men enjoy.
Text copyright: Dr I.V. van Heerden, DietDoc