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Why women gain more weight than men

When it comes to losing weight, women stand at a disadvantage as compared to men. Scientists have now learned that accumulate fat quicker than men and lose it far more slowly. This only confirms what many women long suspected. “My husband eats so much and does not put on an ounce” is what my clients tell me.

During puberty, girls get fatter and boys become leaner. By the age of 18, girls have 20-25% body fat and boys have 15-18%. By adulthood or by middle age, both sexes have 35-40% fat. But now, women often ask me when both husband and wife are given the same diet plan, why is it that the husbands lose weight easily and the wives go through a more difficult time.

Female animals, as well, accumulate fat more quickly than their male counterparts. Women are made to carry extra weight during pregnancy. They are able to cater to the additional supplies of nutrition for their babies, even when sufficient food is not available for them. Women have a lower resting metabolism than men. This means that they burn fewer calories to maintain basic life functions like respiration, digestion, and elimination. The difference is quite significant. A small framed woman may need only 1,000 calories to maintain normal body functions, while a large framed woman may need about 1,600 calories. On the other hand, men need anywhere between 1,400 to 2,000 calories to carry out normal bodily functions.

Fat also settles differently on men and women. Men usually tend to store fat around their bellies; whereas woman store fat on their hips and thighs. Men generally have apple-shaped bodies with a large waist to hip ratio and are known to have an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. Women usually have a pear-shaped body with less fat deposits around the abdomen and more in the lower body.

But two people with the same amount of body fat may have different health risks. Obese men have higher systolic and diastolic blood pressures, higher levels of cholesterol and tryglycerides. However, men lose weight faster because abdominal fat is easier to burn than fat around the hips and thighs. This also explains why women who add on considerable weight to their lower body during pregnancy have a much harder time losing it after childbirth.

Yet, there are ways and means of achieving weight loss by changing the composition of your diet. At this stage, I am talking about a lifetime commitment to health. Ask your doctor or nutritionist for a health-based food plan. It should be one that works with your nutritional and physical needs, not against it. In this manner, you will not only be able to lose weight and maintain optimum weight, but also, work effortlessly for longer durations.
(As published in Hindustan Times dated December 16, 2019)

December 16, 2019

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