Hormones. The primary male hormone is testosterone. It is responsible for more than just sex drive. A healthy male with normal to high testosterone levels has a much easier time building lean muscle tissue, whereas women who produce testosterone in far smaller amounts, have a much harder time building and maintaining a healthy amount of lean muscle mass. The female hormone estrogen is largely responsible for making women’s bodies ready for pregnancy, meaning, easy weight gain, lower metabolism and less energy spent building lean muscle tissue. So hormones have a lot to do with results in the gym when comparing men with women.
Metabolism. Having a high percentage of lean muscle mass naturally boosts a person’s metabolism, male or female. This is because it takes more energy (calories) to operate a body with more muscle. Because it is harder for women to build much lean muscle this keeps us in a cycle of dieting, trying to work out and lose weight with a lower metabolism. A slower metabolism also means that the foods we eat almost instantly get stored, you guessed it, as fat. The best advice for a woman trying to get fit is to do workouts that include weight training. Not body building, just a moderate regimen that includes using the weight machines at the gym or free weights. The key to weight training is this: to “bulk up” you lift heavier weight for fewer reps; to build lean muscle and increase your metabolism do higher reps at a lower weight.
Biology. The American Journal of Physiology cites a recent study that showed that in women, the hormone ghrelin (the one that screams, “I’m hungry!”) spikes after exercise. Additionally, the hormone leptin (the “I’m full!” hormone) drops dramatically. This is completely opposite of what happens in men biochemically after a workout. So naturally, after exercising, women’s brains will be signaling voracious hunger while men’s brains aren’t hungry whatsoever. Who is going to eat more?
More Science. There was another interest study done in 2009 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that studied the brain reactions of men and women when the subjects were exposed to the smell, sight or taste of things like cinnamon buns, pizza, chocolate cake, etc. and the findings were astounding. In the brains of the women participants, the stimulation caused the area of the brain that controls hunger to be highly activated. There was zero notable change in the brains of the male subjects. So women respond to food-related sensory stimulation far more often that men do. Imagine the housewife that is constantly cooking for her family, children, husband at dinner – 3 meals a day plus snacks for kids and that brain center is going to constantly be stimulated, signaling that it is time to eat.
Mental States and Behavior. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition performed numerous studies on this topic and their findings were, well, read on! First, women tend to be more “emotional eaters” than men. This means that women more than men find comfort from food in response to emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, guilt, anxiety, stress and grief. Emotional eating creates a much more profound reason for eating than simple hunger. It is an attempt to relieve emotional discomfort. This can be a very hard cycle to break, but it is possible. Learn healthier ways to of coping with emotional situations and the result will be to eat and weigh less.
Another finding of this study was the behavior change in women once they become involved in a romantic relationship. The reasoning behind this finding is that women in relationships eat more often with a partner than they did when they were single. And most will eat more because their partners eat more. (Sound familiar) It’s completely sub-conscious; a romantic meal is fun, it’s exciting, and it can be a distraction from the signals from your brain telling you you’ve had enough to eat! This new eating habit can weak havoc on our efforts to maintain a healthy weight!
There are many differences between men from Mars and women from Venus, but the interesting thing is that when it comes to staying fit and losing weight, there are significant differences between us. Being aware of these differences can help us recognize the pitfalls before they affect us a well as arm us with valuable insight on why it’s harder to lose weight. I Hope this has helped you become more aware of your tendencies and behaviors to make the necessary corrections. It may be harder for women to lose weight, but it is certainly not impossible!
Who’s Looking Out For You!
KimberleyG Baerman CFT, CSFN, CMY 937-238-4507 cell 937-748-9905 office KimberleyG@baerfit.com