The classic saying "Men are from Mars and women are from
Venus" only shows how different the two sexes are, be it in their looks,
behavior or outlooks. And when it comes to the burning topic of fitness and
losing weight, it just looks like the cards are somehow stacked against the
fairer sex, and men really do have an upper hand in losing weight more easily
as compared to women.
Many women express their frustration at being unable to
lose weight despite hitting the gym and exercising very hard and making
significant dietary changes. Their male counterparts on the other hand appear
to drop kilos just by making minimal lifestyle changes. It just doesn't seem
Jill Kanaley, a professor in the Department of
Nutrition and Exercise at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and her
associates conducted a study with 22 obese men and women with type 2 diabetes
and monitored their hemodynamic responses in the form of heart rate and blood
pressure. In this study, published in
the journal Metabolism,
scientists put obese men and women on the same fitness program. The
study uncovered a discrepancy between the genders when it comes to exercise,
obesity and type-2 diabetes.
To monitor cardiovascular responses, the
individuals completed an isometric handgrip test, which involves continually
and forcefully squeezing an object for a few minutes at the beginning and at
the end of a well chalked out 16-week aerobic exercise program.
The participants were asked to follow a
structured program of aerobic (i.e. cardiovascular) exercise for 16 weeks.
Based on each individual's ability, they worked at an effort of 65 per cent.
The researchers found that though everyone exercised at relatively the same
speed, men got far more benefit from the exercise than women.
Thus the authors concluded that obese women with type 2
diabetes need longer duration or higher intensity of exercise compared with
obese men to reap similar benefits.
Kanaley also said that emphasis should be placed at how
fast the heart beats during physical exercise as well as how long it takes for
the cardiovascular function to return to normal after the exercise routine. It
is of paramount importance to monitor heart recovery rates just as it is
important to monitor how high the heart rates get during exercise.
Similarly, blood pressure, which generally rises during an
exercise routine, should bounce back to normal relatively quickly after
stopping exercise. The study found that the recovery rate for women was not as
rapid as for men.
Thus weight loss, which seems so simple at the surface
level, is actually more difficult for women. This is because of several
Men and women vary
in the type of fat their bodies are made up of
. While women tend to have
more subcutaneous fat, men have more of visceral fat. Women tend to put on the
extra pounds around their hips and thighs (pear shape) while men tend to pile
it on around their abdomen (apple shape). Though visceral fat is more dangerous
since it is linked to heart disease, diabetes and stroke, it is metabolized
much faster than subcutaneous fat.
Men's bodies respond more quickly to exercise
Women's bodies, on the other hand, actually go into a sort of starvation mode,
slowing the metabolism to hang onto more fat.
more estrogen than men.
Estrogen increases storage of body fat. They store
more body fat for proper reproduction.
Men tend to have
more muscle mass
and it is a known fact that muscle tissue burns more
energy than fat tissues. Therefore, men naturally burn more calories than women
even when they are physically inactive or in a resting state.
Women may have a lower tolerance for exercise
Women have smaller lung capacity than men, which can make women feel as though
they are working harder than men even when they are working at the same level.
Men also have higher proportion of hemoglobin carrying oxygen to different
parts of the body, which is vital during exercise.
Women go through
hormonal changes that can slow weight loss.
Menopause is one of
them. In addition, some women also get experience PMS which can exacerbate
cravings for high calorie foods!
Despite all odds, women should not lose hope.
Women need to think smartly about how to make their bodies work for them, by
taking advantage of the connection between muscle mass and metabolism, or
making note of the triggers for emotional eating and minimizing them. To get
the best results from weight-loss efforts, they should maximize fat
loss and minimize muscle loss. The best way to do that is to include
training in their exercise routine.
To sum it
up, whatever the differences maybe in the genders concerning weight loss, it
totally depends on the will power of an individual to actively pursue their own
weight loss goals by maintaining a healthy diet and a rigid exercise program.