Why women struggle with weight loss

Once my doctor joked “At 10 you were one dimensional, at 20 you are 2 dimensional and by 30 you will be 3 dimensional.”

While it is true for both men and women, women find it increasingly difficult to lose weight after 30.

Before we start discussing why it is a challenge, let us first understand weight loss in detail. A human body weight comprises of: Weight of the Bones + Weight of the Organs + Weight of the Muscles + Weight of Water + Weight of Fat. Where would you want to lose your weight from – Bones, Organs, Muscles, Water or Fat? Healthy weight loss is when we lose fat and preserve the rest.

Fat is not all that bad. Fat plays a crucial role in our body. Of the many things, fat is also the supplier of estrogen hormones in a female body. Estrogen hormones regulate reproductive cycles in pre-menopausal women. So, don’t distress, women need some amount of fat in their bodies.

Reasons why women struggle with weight loss:

  1. Low percentage of lean body mass: Women in general have lesser amount of muscle mass or lean body mass when compared to men. Due to lower lean body mass, Women have lower Basal Metabolic Rate and hence tend to expend fewer calories per day at rest. Skeletal muscles contain the fat burning machinery of the body. Inside the muscle cells is the mitochondria which helps to metabolize fat. Increasing the muscle percentage by participating in strength exercises will help in melting the fat away.
  1. Not doing the right exercises: Women often out of fear of putting on muscles and losing the feminine look, do more cardio exercises and stay away from strength building exercises. Though cardio exercises are good, long duration cardio exercises leeches on muscles. To get an idea, compare the physique of a long-distance marathon runner to a short distance sprint runner. Who has more muscle mass? Women cannot pack on muscles like Men since they do not have a lot of the hormone that aids in that process – Testosterone. On the contrary by participating in strength exercises you will look more toned. For fat loss cardio exercises should be primarily in form of interval training to preserve muscle mass.
  1. Eating too much: To lose weight, our body should be in calorie deficit. When the calorie intake is less than the calorie expenditure, our body responds by burning stored energy from the body which in turn results in weight loss. Feeding our body the right food is key, while being on calorie deficit. Our diet should be rich in Protein – meat, eggs, diary, legumes, Complex carbs – grains, fruits, vegetables, daals. Fats – Nuts, Fish, diary.
  1. Not eating enough: Few women eat less due to the fear of putting on weight. Many enroll in diet programs which work on the basis of calorie restriction. This works against us as it further slows down the metabolism there by reducing the calories burnt at rest. The best long term and healthy way of losing fat is a combination of right diet and effective exercises.
  1. Not eating enough protein: Indians on the average consume lesser protein than needed by the body. Vegetarians especially consume lesser protein and should monitor their quantity of Proteins. The strength exercises need to be complimented with sufficient protein to help build muscle. Building a good muscular base will in turn burn more fat.
  1. Hormone estrogen: The estrogen hormone has an influence on fat deposition in a pre-menopausal woman’s body. Hence, they find it a bit more challenging to lose fat. However, we should not interfere with its function when it is working fine. Role of estrogen here has been mentioned for awareness and for working around this natural and much needed function.
  1. Medical conditions: Among other medical conditions, Hypothyroidism and PCOS can also interfere with weight loss efforts. For these conditions, it is important to visit a doctor first before starting on any weight loss program.

Let us take a moment to look into a concerning issue worldwide. Worldwide women are reporting less satisfaction with their bodies when compared to men. Media – print, digital and social are strongly influencing that. This has known to contribute to eating disorders and crash diets which have long term negative effects on health. My message is: if you are looking to lose weight, follow a healthy procedure.

Summarizing, a combination of portion controlled, balanced, nutritious diet with strength training and interval training is the key for healthy fat loss.

Navitae’s Weight Watchers plan combines healthy diet and effective exercises for weight loss. Please visit https://navitae.com/services/ to know more about the program.

Women’s Health Mastery – Starter kit is my step by step coaching system for women who are looking to enhance their vitality, reclaim their youth and aspire to live a life of their dreams. To know more please visit: https://school.navitae.com/p/women-s-health-mastery-starter-kit

-Ruma Pal

Certified Health and Fitness Coach, ISSA, USA
Women’s Fitness Specialist, NASM, USA


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