Girls, are you sick of seeing these guys on social media posting crazy before and after pictures a couple of weeks after going on a diet?
Tried to do it and not got the same results?
Telling yourself you just can’t do it?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there’s a reason why you didn’t get the same results….
You’re not able.
It’s unfair I know.
When it comes to fat loss or fat gain, females have it tougher than males and this comes up in almost every study that includes both or compares men and women.
I’m going to give you 10 reasons why I feel sorry for you;
- Females are smaller and when put on the same calorie reduced diet, they will always lose less total weight than men.
If you put a male and a female on the same 1,500 calorie a day diet, the male will always lose more weight as his energy expenditure for the day is higher.
For example a female who has a 2,000 calorie per day expenditure will be in a 500 calorie per day deficit. A male with a 3,000 calorie per day expenditure will be in a 1,500 per day deficit.
This will allow the man to lose more weight and lose it faster. When you combine this larger deficit with other processes explained below like fat storage, muscle mass and metabolic adaptations, this widens the gap even further in the males favour.
- With just exercise alone, males generally lose some weight and fat while females rarely do if their diet is not controlled.
The female body is smart. As well as burning less calories while exercising, females will compensate for exercising by either increasing their food intake or reducing their energy expenditure during the rest of the day to make up for the energy burnt through exercise. They will (often subconsciously) move less and sit down more during the rest of the day. This will balance out their energy expenditure while males generally see very little change so exercising will increase their energy expenditure allowing them to lose weight.
Male exercises and burns 400 calories. That’s 400 extra calories added to his energy expenditure for the day.
Female exercises and burns 250 calories. She is likely to eat an extra 250 calories that day to make up for it or move less throughout the day to make up those 250 calories.
- Males store more visceral fat while females tend to store more subcutaneous fat (under the skin.) Visceral fat is easily mobilized and burnt off while subcutaneous fat is more difficult to burn off and comes off at a much slower rate.
Visceral fat (fat around the gut) is more easily burned for fuel but also predisposes men towards heart attacks. This means women who store more subcutaneous fat are protected from heart disease until after menopause but the drawback is that it’s very hard to get rid of.
This fat storage is the reason why you will commonly notice that females tend to store more fat in their lower body (legs & hips) and it can be hard and slow to get rid of.
- When losing fat the body will fight back to stop this happening. Women’s bodies fight back much harder on every level.
Our bodies don’t want to lose or gain weight; we prefer to stay the same. This is called homeostasis. When we try to lose or gain weight, our bodies will try to keep in this homeostatic state by down regulating certain processes. This happens to a greater degree or faster in females. Appetite will increase and the metabolism will adjust downwards. Non exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) will decrease as explained in point number 2; you will end up moving less in everyday activities and burn less calories throughout the day to compensate.
- Women tend to lose more fat and less Lean body mass (LBM) than men. They are losing more fat but this requires a larger total calorie deficit which they don’t have to begin with.
LBM is everything that isn’t fat such as organs, bone, skeletal muscle etc… To lose 1 pound of fat takes around a total 3,500 calorie deficit compared to 1 pound of LBM which is around 800 calories.
This combined with a higher male energy expenditure and more visceral fat makes it a lot faster for males to lose weight and fat than females.
- Females tend to stress more than males. This affects the body’s ability to lose weight and fat.
Being stressed raises the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone is involved in belly fat deposition in women. Stress has a negative impact on progesterone which halts the storage of fat around the waist. So for females, concentrating on reducing stress levels and lowering cortisol levels can have a positive impact on belly fat distribution.
- The female menstrual cycle and its huge individual differences have a huge effect on weight and fat loss.
This is probably the biggest factor that effects weight loss and goes so in depth that it’s outside the scope of this article. The menstrual cycle and it’s effects differ so much from female to female that it nearly has to be treated on individual basis. It can disrupt the entire system and can have an effect on appetite, strength, mood and performance. When trying to get down to very low levels of bodyfat, the normal menstrual cycle can partially or completely shut down which causes a number of serious problems.
Understanding the menstrual cycle is a must for any female fat loss program.
- Female hormonal imbalances and fluctuations make weight loss resistance more likely.
Because of the menstrual cycle, the variation in hormones which happens every month complicates the entire fat loss process for women. One of the main problems is the shift in hormones throughout the cycle causes different levels of water retention at different stages of the cycle. This makes stepping on the scales very difficult for females. Water retention can mask fat loss so a patient, consistent, long term approach to fat loss is needed by females.
- Females have less muscle and burn less calories throughout the day and while exercising than males.
Because of this, it means females have to be stricter with their diet as they can’t consume as many calories per day as males. Society doesn’t cater for this as there is no difference in portion sizes and females are subject to the same foods so must show more restraint and dedication to stay within their calorie intake.
The table below shows the differences between genders in calories burnt per min while exercising.
- Between carrying children and ensuring their survival, females are responsible for the survival of the human race.
Females are more likely to survive a famine than males and are able to store fat better for the future when food becomes available. It’s much more important for women to be able to handle changes in food supply, increased activity, stress, starvation to ensure survival of the human race.
As if the above wasn’t bad enough, there are still all the psychological, emotional and behavioural factors to be considered in female fat loss!
- Females are 3 times more likely to have some sort of eating disorder.
- Females are 4 times more likely to have confidence and self-esteem issues
- Almost 10 times more likely to feel that they have to look a certain way.
BUT ALL IS NOT LOST!
Fat loss may be tougher for females but it’s not impossible.
Knowing is half the battle. Know that you know how tough it is, what can you do?
- Stop being so hard on yourself.
- Have patience and trust the process.
- Keep improving your knowledge of your own body and how it responds.
- Be consistent.
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