Alright ladies, I know a few of you are going through this — you’ve been really diligent about your participation in the Whole Life Challenge and are experiencing modest changes in your body. Your male gym-mate, boyfriend or husband has lost five pounds in one week. What’s up with that? Why is it so easy for them?
Here’s the answer – nature doesn’t know we’re living in the modern world. As far as nature knows, men are still spending their days hunting animals and women are spending their days bearing and raising children. It’s really important to nature that women be able to do this, because while men are without a doubt pretty cool and fascinating creatures, without women’s ability to have children the whole human race would come to a screeching halt.
So how does our caveman ancestry get in the way of your weight loss?
1. Men have naturally lower body fat than women to start with. When comparing lean body mass and bodyfat percentages, men have more muscle and women carry more fat. If you consider cavemen were out hunting food, it makes sense they have more muscle than women. Cavewomen needed higher body fat to protect a growing baby inside them. A general rule of thumb I use to put this in perspective is that women carry about 10% more bodyfat than men – so a really lean man is between 5-10% and a really lean woman is between 15-20%.
2. Men carry their fat differently. Not only do men have less fat, but they tend to carry their fat in one central area on their torso, whereas women carry it throughout their body. This makes it seem like guys can “spot reduce” easier than women. In addition, the last place a woman is likely to lose weight is probably the first place she wants it to go from, i.e. “baby protection” fat around the lower midsection.
3. Men have higher testosterone. Testosterone makes it possible for us to build muscle and men have higher testosterone than women. Having more muscle also means having a higher metabolism. Men naturally have about a 5-10% higher rate of metabolism than women. (This is all the more reason to show up on heavy weightlifting days, ladies — increasing your muscle mass will increase the base amount of calories your body needs each day. You’ll burn more even without moving around if you have more muscle.)
So there you have it. You can blame it on the ancient cavemen and cavewomen that modern men can eat more and still lose weight. On the upside, women tend to be far more diligent and detail oriented about weight loss than men. So stick it out ladies, you may have to be stricter (watch your nuts and fruits in particular), but your body will come around.