Weight Balance

Women Struggle More with Weight Loss: Why?

Written By: Kripa Jalan

Women Struggle More with Weight Loss: Why?

A woman and her partner go on a diet together.

Are they both motivated? Yes.

Are they both disciplined? Yes.

Do they make identical changes? Yes.

Nevertheless, the man is more likely to shed weight faster than the woman.

Blame it on your genes, some experts say.

But is it really that simple? Let’s explore.

Is it all in your head?

No! In a systematic review of 58 studies that directly compared diet-only and diet-exercise interventions in women versus men, 10 of the studies found that men lose more weight than women on both types of interventions.


A lot of this comes down to crucial metabolic differences between men and women. Solely blaming weight resistance on genes is oversimplified.

The list below is non-exhaustive and please note that we’re painting with broad strokes here. There are exceptions to every rule.

(1)        Differences in body composition:

Typically, women tend to have more body fat and less muscle mass than men. Those extra pounds of body fat in women are part of an evolutionary adaption i.e. they come in handy during pregnancy. Metabolic rate is in large part driven by muscle mass. Individuals who have more muscle mass burn more calories, even at rest. This means men often have a higher metabolism, helping them lose weight quicker when they cut calories or exercise.

(2)        Hormones:

Women undergo multiple different kinds of hormonal fluctuations in their lifetimes. From puberty to pregnancy and eventually menopause – things are constantly changing. For example, weight fluctuations during a woman’s menstrual cycle are pretty common. Further, it’s not unusual for women to experience hormone imbalances at different points in their lives. Take PCOS, for example. It’s intricately connected to obesity and insulin resistance. Women also have higher rates of thyroid disease, which can affect weight. As far as men are concerned, they have higher amounts of Testosterone – which helps them build muscle quicker.

(3)        Cravings & Appetite:

Emotional eating affects both genders, but studies suggest women may turn to food for comfort more often than men. This can make weight management a bit more challenging. Additionally, research suggests that premenstrual food cravings are a widespread problem and may contribute significantly to the cardiometabolic adverse effects, such as high blood sugar and visceral fat accumulation, associated with obesity.

What you can do

(1)        Resistance training:

Women are at a natural disadvantage when it comes to calories burned throughout the day, but certain types of exercise—mainly resistance training—can increase basal metabolic rate.

(2)        Prioritize protein:

More protein may be needed depending on many factors including how much you exercise and if you’ve had any loss of muscle mass. You don’t need to go overboard. With protein, think Goldilocks.

(3)        Manage stress:

There’s a clear connection between stress and weight gain. Stress is inevitable, but having a toolkit to manage it is always helpful. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Breathe deeply
  • Walk barefoot on grass
  • Colour or draw
  • Write in a journal
  • Dance 
  • Take a nap
  • Take a meditation course

Play the long game

Yes, men have it a bit easier when it comes to weight loss – especially at the start. But, women do catch up. Although you may progress at different rates, you’ll both make it over the finish line eventually. So, it’s best to cut yourself some slack and not compare your results to anyone.

It's crucial to remember that everyone's journey is unique. The best approach is personalized, considering your body's needs, lifestyle, and, most importantly, your health. So, whether it's through food, exercise, or lifestyle changes, focusing on what works for you is key. And remember, the scale doesn't tell the whole story; your overall health status and how you feel are just as important.

If you’re sick of restrictive diet rules and want a different one with food, our 1-1 Nutrition Coaching Program is just for you!

Here, instead of focusing on external cues like calorie counting, food intake, and restrictive rules – we focus on behavior change, and internal cues like hunger and empower clients to trust their bodies to make the best decisions for themselves and find long-term healing.

Think of us like guide dogs. You know where you want to go, but we just help you navigate the obstacles along the way.