Losing weight successfully

22. March 2021

Why do men lose weight faster and more successfully than women?

Why do men lose weight faster and more successfully than women?

Spring is just around the corner, and once again we are starting to ask ourselves about our weight. In view of the fact that we have been sitting at home for months and have hardly moved because gyms, sports facilities, etc. are closed, it’s a good question. Even without the coronavirus crisis, many of us regularly have a problem with our weight after the winter.

Just recently, we reported about the situation with the nation’s children in our health blog: doctors have established that the current generation of children is significantly overweight. After an interview with School Senator Ties Rabe (SPD), the BVKJ Hamburg (professional paediatricians’ association) released a statement summarising the development as follows:

“We have perceived an alarming increase in obesity as a result of the closure of sports clubs, the lack of school-based sports activities, and children not walking to school.”

For many adults, after this unusual winter things aren’t looking much better, as there were very few options other than staying at home, eating and drinking. You can imagine how much junk food was eaten out of sheer frustration at our current situation.

Last year we introduced you to some diets, including the 16: 8 method. We recommended the following:

There should be 16 hours between the last meal of the day and the first meal of the following day. During the eight hours that you’re allowed to eat, you have two meals. Secondly, the 5:2 method: you eat normally five days a week and almost nothing on the other two days.

The goal of both these methods is long-term weight loss. We came to the conclusion that the 16:8 method is the more helpful of the two.

The 16:8 method is currently the most popular fasting method in Germany, after Eckart von Hirschhausen discussed it in detail in “Stern”. He explained: “It’s not a diet, rather a way of eating. You don’t have to count calories, you watch the time instead.”

Instead of “Eat half the amount”, it’s “Eat half the time!” By the way: the word “diet” originally meant “way of life”. These days, people call it the “Hirschhausen diet“. We also introduced you to fasting according to St. Hildegard von Bingen, Buchinger fasting and the alkaline diet.

Why are men better at losing weight?

It’s interesting why women and men lose weight differently. Here’s what happens: as we get older, many people put on weight, even if they aren’t eating more than they did before. This applies equally to women and men.

But why is this? It starts around the age of 40. For many people, the scales start to creep steadily upwards. By the time we reach retirement age, we may have gained as much as 30 kilos. This weight gain is linked to the ageing process, but that’s not the only reason.

Dr. Ursula Kassner, a doctor at the Charité fat metabolism outpatient clinic in Berlin, explains it very simply in “Apotheken Umschau“: “As we get older, our metabolism and body composition change. Until the age of around 40, our bodies are programmed for growth, but after this point they switch over to focus on maintaining body mass”.

So why do men lose weight faster, more sustainably and better than women? Over half of all women in Germany have already tried dieting, and almost 30 percent have tried not just one diet, but several. But very few have been successful in maintaining any weight loss, thanks to the yo-yo effect. When they end their diet, many women quickly pile on the pounds again, and often end up weighing even more than before.

It’s a different story for men, however: they lose weight faster than women, and they usually also lose more weight than women. This has been proven by several international studies, including one conducted by the University of Copenhagen with 2500 very overweight test subjects. New York-based doctor Pamela Peeke, considered a pioneer in this field, has also confirmed this.

Studies have also found that only eight percent of men have ever felt unsatisfied with a diet. The results were published in the “Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism” journal under the title: “Men and women respond differently to rapid weight loss: Metabolic outcomes of a multi-centre intervention study after a low-energy diet in 2500 overweight, individuals with pre-diabetes”.

More muscle mass and less fat 

It’s not their iron willpower that makes men better at losing weight than women, it’s a gift from nature. Men simply have more muscle mass than women, and muscles burn significantly more calories than fat. Men have around 40 to 45 percent muscle mass, while women only have 30 to 35 percent. 

The difference between men and women is due to the sex hormones. Men produce more testosterone, which builds muscle mass, while women produce more oestrogen, which causes more fat to be deposited. So it is the hormone oestrogen that is responsible for weight gain. This means that men can eat more food than women without it affecting their waistline.

Muscles are the largest calorie burners in our body, so men are at a clear advantage. Their higher muscle mass means that they burn more calories and thus also have a higher metabolic rate, up to 10 percent higher than that of women. Another advantage for men: even if they don’t move, their higher muscle mass still means that they burn more calories and have a higher metabolic rate.

This is why men are better at losing weight than women. And there’s another reason too: when exercising, men tend to focus more on muscle work while women focus more on endurance training.This leads to a further metabolic rate increase in men. Our advice: women should do more weight training and use heavy weights every now and then.

Men can consume an average of 2200 calories a day, however women just 2000. If men want to lose weight, they have to reduce their calorie intake to 1700, and women to just 1500. As we get older, muscle mass decreases in both sexes, which makes it even harder to lose weight.

Here, too, it is noticeable that women have fewer muscle mass reserves than men. Because the body now burns fewer calories, love handles accumulate more quickly.

But let’s not jump to the wrong conclusions: 60 percent of men in Germany are actually overweight. It’s just that this is more accepted in our society: men are not blamed for having a bit of a paunch, while women are judged more harshly. Women are advised to diet as soon as they are overweight, whereas doctors don’t advise men to lose weight until their blood pressure or cholesterol levels sound the alarm. 

Being slim is a very sensitive issue for women

Emotional eating – American nutritionist and author Pamela Peeke thinks women are typical stress eaters. “In stressful situations women choose foods that activate the brain’s reward centre particularly effectively and quickly”, such as crisps, chocolate or anything high in fat and sugar. 

Many women then try to shed their excess pounds with crash diets, which have been proved not to work. “On crash diets, women quickly lose belly fat, while their hip fat is more likely to be protected,” says metabolism expert Michael Boschmann from the Charité in Berlin. In addition, women’s lives are influenced by hormones, which have a far-reaching effect on their bodies.

The best fat burners: green tea leads the field

But women are not completely at the mercy of nature. If you want to lose weight, healthy nutrition is a better bet than dieting. For example, did you know that green tea is the biggest fat burner? The bitter substances and high caffeine content in green tea massively increase your metabolic rate and thus lead to significantly higher fat burning.

So two or three cups of green tea a day, or more, work wonders. Other effective fat burners are coffee, pulses, almonds, grapefruit, apples, pears and pollock. Dark berries also boost your metabolism. Ginger is great for building muscle mass and reducing fat.

You should also eat a protein-rich breakfast, and plenty of soluble fibre and whole foods. In general your diet should contain plenty of protein, limited carbohydrates, and plenty of fruit and vegetables. Limit your salt intake, avoid carbohydrates, and stay away from processed foods

More exercise in everyday life also helps with weight loss, so you should try to exercise two to three times a week. However, after exercising the appetite hormone ghrelin usually triggers cravings in women, so make sure you have a small, healthy snack with you.

So it’s time to shed those pounds, spring is just around the corner!