Healthcare provider discussing with patient whether men or women have an easier time losing weight

Do men or women have an easier time losing weight?

Written on February 6, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Table of contents

It’s not easy to lose weight

Losing weight is difficult in general. It takes a lot of work, commitment, and time to shed pounds [1-3]. Weight loss strategies typically involve taking in fewer calories than you burn or use [1]. If you are obese, achieving a healthy weight can lead to health benefits [2,3]. A weight loss of 5% to 10% of your total body weight may improve blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose [2].

Severe obesity is more prevalent in women

Obesity is a widespread chronic disease that continues to rise in the United States [3]. Adult obesity in the US is about 42%, with no difference between men and women [4]. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, while severe obesity as having a BMI of 40 or higher [5]. Data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2017 to 2018 showed a 9.2% prevalence of severe obesity in US adults [4]. Also, women were found to have a severe obesity prevalence of 11.5%, which is higher than in men (6.9%).

Who has an easier time losing weight, men or women?

It may seem that men have an easier time losing weight when compared to women. But is this a myth, or is there some truth to this? Do men or women have an easier time losing weight?

A review of 10 studies showed that men in these studies did lose more weight than women, although women also had significant weight loss [6]. Researchers in another study also found that men achieved more initial weight loss than women [7]. However, men in the study were no more likely than women to maintain their reduced weight long-term. Both articles state their limitations, one being the low number of men in the studies, and note that further studies are needed to investigate gender differences in weight loss [6,7].

Differences between hormones and metabolism in men and women may suggest why men could have an easier time losing weight than women [8-10].

  • Hormones: Men and women have different levels of sex hormones. Women tend to have higher levels of estrogen and progesterone. It’s also known that as women age and estrogen levels decrease, it may be harder to lose weight [8]. Men have higher levels of testosterone compared to women. Increasing testosterone levels in deficient men has been found to produce significant weight loss that can be sustained [9].
  • Metabolism: Metabolism is a process through which your body converts food into energy [10]. At its resting state, your body still uses energy for breathing and circulating blood to keep you alive. Your basal metabolism is the calories your body uses for energy to do these things. Your body size and composition, as well as your gender, are contributing factors to your basal metabolism. Men typically have a larger build and more muscle mass compared to women, so they burn more calories even when they’re just breathing [8,10].

Strategies for overall healthy weight loss in men and women

Losing weight is different for every person. What works for you may or may not work for someone else. But the following are some general strategies that, when tailored to you, may add to your overall weight loss, regardless of if you are a man or woman [11-13].

  1. Eat a balanced diet with various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and proteins. Aim for low-fat milk products, nuts, and foods low in sugars and sodium [11].
  2. Engage in increased levels of physical activity and exercise. Physical activity helps you burn calories, maintain weight, and reduce health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart attacks [12]. Moderate-intensity exercises include walking briskly for 15 minutes, doing light yard work, or biking casually. High-intensity physical activities are jogging, swimming, or skiing with a noticeably increased heart rate and breathing too hard and fast to hold a conversation.
  3. Prepare mentally and maintain a positive attitude when making changes. Since losing weight is difficult, you should mentally prepare to make behavioral changes to reach your weight loss goal [13]. Maintaining a good mindset will aid in your weight loss journey.

Weight management access with Everlywell

Everlywell offers access to a telehealth service to help you with weight management through virtual visits. With the guidance of a certified healthcare provider, you can discuss how to lose weight and reduce your risks for long-term health issues. You will be able to get 1:1 support every month to optimize your care plan and achieve your health goals. The provider will recommend lifestyle changes, help you design a personalized care plan, and may include a prescription weight loss medication if one is appropriate for you.

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  1. Weight loss, weight-loss basics. Mayo Clinic. URL. Published November 19, 2021. Accessed February 2, 2023.
  2. Losing weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published September 19, 2022. Accessed February 2, 2023.
  3. About overweight and obesity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published March 30, 2022. Accessed February 2, 2023.
  4. National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief, Number 360 - February 2020. Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity among adults: United States, 2017-2018. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published February 27, 2020. Accessed February 2, 2023.
  5. Defining adult overweight & obesity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published June 3, 2022. Accessed February 2, 2023.
  6. Williams RL, Wood LG, Collins CE, Callister R. Effectiveness of weight loss interventions—is there a difference between men and women: a systematic review. Obes Rev. 2015;16(2):171-86. doi: 10.1111/obr.12241. URL.
  7. Crane MM, Jeffery RW, Sherwood NE. Exploring Gender Differences in a Randomized Trial of Weight Loss Maintenance. Am J Mens Health. 2017;11(2):369-375. doi: 10.1177/1557988316681221. URL.
  8. Weight loss and women. Office on Women’s Health. URL. Accessed February 2, 2023.
  9. Traish AM. Testosterone and weight loss: the evidence. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2014;21(5):313-322. doi:10.1097/MED.0000000000000086. URL.
  10. Can you boost your metabolism? Mayo Clinic. URL. Published October 8, 2022. Accessed February 2, 2023.
  11. Healthy eating for a healthy weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published June 3, 2022. Accessed February 2, 2023.
  12. Physical activity for a healthy weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published June 16, 2022. Accessed February 2, 2023.
  13. Ramage S, Farmer A, Eccles KA, McCargar L. Healthy strategies for successful weight loss and weight maintenance: a systematic review. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014;39(1):1-20. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2013-0026. URL.
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