Losing weight can be a battle for everyone, regardless of gender. But it’s tempting to think that men just might have it easier. Stories abound of women who have dieted alongside a male spouse, sibling or friend only to see their partner’s fat melt away — while they struggle to change the number on the scale. Does our number of X chromosomes really impact how quickly we lose weight?
Yes, men actually do lose weight faster than women. Because of the way their bodies are built, men naturally produce more lean muscle and have a higher metabolic rate than women. They also carry more weight, specifically visceral fat, around their gut. When men shed visceral fat, it kickstarts their metabolism to burn away even more calories. Women, by contrast, tend to have more fat around the hips and thigh, a type known as subcutaneous fat, which does not impact metabolism when lost.
“There are reasons why women may lay fat down more easily,” says former dietician Ann Albright, director of the Division of Diabetes Translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Much of it has to do with bearing children she says, as well as various hormonal differences that can make losing weight more challenging for women.
“That’s not all women and that’s not all men,” she adds. “I think there are certainly men that have a very difficult time losing weight.”