Well Being

Why Do Men Seem To Lose Weight Without Even Trying?

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Here's something I've always wondered about. According to about a billon health articles on the internet (which means they must be legit, right?), men have an easier with weight loss than women. But with so many amazing female bodybuilders, weight lifters, and celebs with rockin' arms and abs, saying that men are better at losing weight seems like kind of an excuse to me. So I asked professional trainer Dan Trink, who confirmed my suspicions–yes, men have the hormonal advantage, but women are shooting themselves in the foot with one very bad gym practice.

“The biological mechanisms involved in how people lose weight, and even gain muscle, are the same in both men and women. However, there are factors that come into play based upon gender,” says Trink, a CSCS, who's also strength coach, nutritional consultant, and personal trainer at Peak Performance in New York City. According to him, we're on a level playing field, aside from one important aspect: hormones.

“The differences,” he emphasises “are almost completely based on hormones. Hormones act as the body's fat loss signals, and although the hormonal system is very complicated, it is safe to say that men generally tend to have a more beneficial hormone profile when it comes to both fat loss and muscle gain.”

Yup. Men are just juiced to put on muscle, because they have more testosterone, Trink says. And when human bodies–male or female–have more muscle mass, they are more effective at burning fat, because muscles, unlike fat, aren't inert–they're always in motion, and they can speed up your metabolism.

Which doesn't doesn't mean that women are totally doomed, or that hormones are an excuse for not working toward your goals. There's an array of factors that may stack up in favor of men when it comes to dropping pounds–one 2008 study showed that a big reason that women don't seem to get as quick of results in the gym is because they have a harder time resisting treats–but probably the biggest difference between male and female weight loss isn't because of biological difference, it's a behavioral one. And it's one that  we've harped about before.

When women are trying to lose weight, many will ramp up their cardio without going near the free weights, for fear of developing too much muscle and looking like a bodybuilder. Which is not only a terrible strategy for health and weight loss–because lifting weights is amazing for your body and also can seriously speed up the process of shedding pounds–it's also,  Trink says, an unjustified concern.

“While women have some testosterone and can gain muscle, it is challenging for them to put on muscle at the same rate as men…even though many women fear getting bulky or too muscular, they almost never end up that way – it's just not the way their bodies are designed. Luckily, women can get stronger, leaner, faster and increase endurance through working out which will improve both their body composition as well as their level of performance for a competition.”

And even if what you do end up with is amazing biceps, they should be something to be proud of, because they mean you're strong and fit! But the fact is, it's just not likely to happen–no matter how many weights you lift. Need proof? Just check out Blisstree's favorite power-lifting hero, Dana McMahan, who can hoist around weights with the most macho dudes, but is a far cry from being bulky.

So there you have it. Men do have a slight edge when it comes to slimming down and putting on muscle, but, reminds Trink, they also have the upper-hand because they don't have the same hang-ups about spending a healthy amount of time pumping iron. If you want to take back the edge, Trink says, you've got to start pumping.

“Maintaining and creating lean muscle mass is critical for health, looks and performance, and I would put it at the top of the list of importance when it comes to a woman's overall fitness. Get out there and lift some weights – your body will be glad you did.”

Amen.

Image: Kzenon via Shutterstock

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