The Great Weight Loss Debate: Why Do Men Lose Weight Faster…and How Can Women Catch Up?
When it comes to weight loss wars, the scale seems to be tipped in men’s favor, i.e., they seem to shed pounds at a far quicker pace than us females (not really fair now, is it?).
And while we realize that men do lose weight faster, what’s the reason as to why? We decided to get to the bottom of this weight loss dilemma and speak to Canyon Ranch Tucson’s Director of Exercise Physiology Mike Siemens.
“Men have a slight advantage in weight loss because they typically have more muscle mass and therefore a higher-resting metabolism,” Siemens says. “This means men have a [head start] in burning calories per day — simply by breathing! — due to base metabolism. All other things being equal (food intake, exercise intensity, workout time, etc.), a man is burning an approximately 5,000 more calories per week than a woman, which is roughly one-and-a-half pounds of body fat.”
Okay, so how can we women catch up?
“Women can make up the difference by upping their cardiovascular exercise, and in particular, improving their cardiovascular fitness level,” Siemens says. “At Canyon Ranch, we emphasize knowing your aerobic fitness level because [it] is the main determining factor in how many calories you burn when doing your cardio exercise. By working at your optimal heart-rate range, and adding interval training, you will improve your aerobic fitness and calorie-burning ability. Simply put, greater fitness equals greater calorie expenditure.
“Of course, a woman can also be more mindful of her eating and drinking habits,” he adds.
Cardiovascular activities like walking, running, spinning, high-intensity dance classes like Zumba and swimming are all excellent ways to get the heart rate up and should be combined with strength training, Siemens says. “Again, the goal is to burn off calories, and when your heart rate is elevated, you are a calorie-burning machine!
“For both men and women, you want to be sure the exercise/your routine is challenging, but not so uncomfortable you do it a few times and then give up. You want to find a routine that you can maintain long term.”
These four tips from Siemens are a win-win to help women lose weight:
1) Cardiovascular exercise is king (or queen in this case) for calorie burn. Implement a cardio exercise program a minimum of 4x per week, for at least 30 minutes (ideally 45 – 60 minutes) to ensure significant caloric burn.
2) Strive to improve your fitness level. By doing so, you optimize your caloric-burning efficiency during your everyday workouts.
3) Add interval training at least 2x per week to maximize your post-workout calorie burn. Studies show interval training keeps metabolism rates burning higher 12 hours post-workout than standard cardio exercises.
4) Add strength training to your routine 3x per week to increase your muscle mass, and therefore, your resting metabolism rate. Go for heavier weights with fewer reps — ideally three sets of 12 reps maximum. The goal is to reach muscle fatigue by the 12th rep.
“All the same exercise suggestions apply to men interested in weight loss,” Siemens says. “I would also recommend special attention to food choices/portion sizes as men tend to increase their food intake, especially when exercising. The formula for weight loss is an easy one: It’s calories in versus calories out.”
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Portion Control: Tips to Manage Weight & Eat Better