Today I want to talk about the differences between men and women when it comes to fat loss, if there should be any changes in approach to training, nutrition or is the same approach feasible?
Before we get into the nitty and grittiness of this article, we have to first explore as to where each genders natural disposition of majority fat storage is deposited and what implications this may have in terms of fat loss. Naturally most males tend to hold majority fat storage around their mid-section and back area, whilst women store fat around their hip and thigh. There may be some discrepancies and anomalies, however, this blog post is going to focus on general population. The aforementioned areas are where men and women may respectively experience ‘stubborn’ fat loss; areas where fat accumulation occurs more readily and fat loss more reserved.
One must remember, the human physiological systems do not work individually but synergistically. There are more than one hormones at play when it comes to fat loss. However, I don’t want to make this article 10 pages long so we will focus on the main hormones which exercise may have an influence over.
Both male and females have identical hormones circulating around their bodies with drastic differences in the amounts. This of course is what makes us different. Hormones control all aspects of our lives whether that’s weight loss, muscle gain or strength, emotions, reproduction even sleep patterns.
The predominant hormones produced by the female body are oestrogen and progesterone; however dependent upon a woman’s monthly cycle can fluctuate drastically. This fluctuation will account for upset in mood, cravings and water retention, which can add a degree of difficulty during a fat loss program.
Inversely, men have up to ten times higher levels of testosterone with much lower levels of oestrogen and progesterone. This may appear to be one reason fat loss seems a simpler process for men. Although, females may have only one tenth testosterone levels that in males; plasma testosterone concentration in females can increase with exercise. Testosterone indirectly affects muscle fibers protein content by promoting Growth hormone (GH) release.
Growth hormone slows down carbohydrate breakdown and initiates subsequent mobilisation & use of fat as an energy source. Augmented GH release benefits muscle, Bone and connective tissue growth & remodelling. All of which can be promoted by a sound, well designed resistance training program!
Oestrogen levels decline as women age, in menopause for example, metabolism naturally slows down allowing accumulation of fat more readily. This may be one of the reasons why a lot of females in their teens and twenties generally have an easier time staying lean without too much effort. However, general rule still does apply, if your total daily calorific intake exceeds expenditure overtime the body fat will accumulate to a substantial amount regardless of how good your metabolism.
Paradoxically, very high oestrogen levels also lead to the accumulation of body fat. Excessive levels can occur naturally in some women and may require medical intervention. However, it is possible to help alleviate oestrogen dominance by due diligence and consistently following a well-planned resistance training program as well as consuming food high in fibre and rich in nutrients.
Either way both sexes would benefit from a sound resistance training program, consisting of, heavy loads, volume, wide repetition ranges systematically set to peak without over training to protect the longevity of their training journey.
Until the next one, stay strong and conquer my fellow ALL STRENGTH athletes!
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