The Reason Weight Loss Is Harder for Women

There is truth to the notion that hormones make weight loss harder for women than men in biology, psychology, chemistry and mental approach. Men and women are built differently, and those molecular and structural differences are responsible for the varying results. It might be harder for women to lose weight the way men do, but it’s not impossible to lose weight the way your body needs to. There's more to it than cardio and spinach.

Feet on scale

It’s an important contrast to understand. Currently, 68.5 percent of women are considered overweight or obese with a body mass index, or BMI, greater than 25. For American men, it’s higher at 71.3 percent. Functions within a female body run off of hormone production. Not just estrogen, but the hormones that control hunger, insulin and stress. All of these tend to pose an obstacle more so for women than men when it comes to weight loss. Click here to better understand BMI and how to calculate yours.

Talkin' Body

Your body releases a hormone called ghrelin (kind of sounds like gremlin) when it wants to alert you that you’re hungry. The more of this hormone you have, the more hungry you’ll feel. This is why you might find yourself scouring the fridge and pantry after a full dinner. Controlling the amount of this hormone can be a simple solution: sleep. When you’re tired, but you still have to go, go, go, your body will crave fuel, especially carbs. If you get enough sleep, the ghrelin level will decrease. Coffee and energy drinks do not counter the production, so actually get some beauty rest! Try one of these eight caffeine-free alternatives.

But how can you rest when you’re stressed? Cortisol is the stress hormone that is released when the shoe hits the fan. It’s a very natural response, like a fight or flight deal. But sometimes that stress arrives and it multiplies and it lingers. When this happens, the body begins to store fat as if it’s in survival mode. Cortisol then signals your body to go ahead and break down muscle tissue to convert into to energy. So once again, limit the caffeine – not omit, just drink responsibly. Breathe. Take a walk. Talk to someone. Control it and balance it. A short study showed women on hormonal birth control saw increased cortisol levels upon its initial release.

weight loss jeans

>> Read more: The Role Your Brain Plays in Weight Loss

One hormone that you do want a lot of, though, is adiponectin. This hormone turns on all the fat-burning machinery in your body. It’s pretty backwards how it works: more body fat equates to lower adiponectin levels and the other way around. It’s more prevalent in women, especially at peak points of menstruation and in older women. So, how do you get it to make more? You’ve got to zap your body into action by ingesting good fats, like those in nuts and avocados, or add an omega-3 supplement to your regimen. Throw some turmeric into your next smoothie and go ahead and drink that cup of coffee (only effective if you are more rested than not). Read more about turmeric and its powerful properties here.

The Master Plan


Men tend to have more lean muscle mass, and having muscle mass requires energy (calories) to maintain. So, it’s usually easier for men to lose weight right off the bat. Women are a bit softer by nature due to nature’s assumption the woman will eventually get pregnant and reproduce. The female body is set up for sustaining and giving life thanks to reproductive hormones like estrogen. More estrogen tends to slow down the weight loss process. Even if a woman has a higher body fat percentage than a man, that doesn’t mean she’s that much “fatter” than him. Women are designed to have larger storage units for fat.

weight loss

Men like to lose weight in the gut region while women target the thighs, glutes, tummy and arms. That’s a lot more real estate to cover, so of course it will take more time. Men who have belly fat are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and colorectal cancer. Women are not at risk for these conditions when their bodies store fat in their thighs. In fact, the body does it on purpose and it’s totally normal and safe at healthy levels.