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Gender Differences in Fat Metabolism — an article on the Smart Living Network
May 7, 2008 at 2:23 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Gender Differences in Fat Metabolism


It's true that women and men metabolize fat differently. Especially as we age, we begin to notice more and more changes between how the two sexes metabolize carbs.

What Is Metabolism?

Metabolism is the rate at which our bodies use calories for energy to maintain bodily functions. It uses a network of enzymes and hormones to turn our food into energy. Metabolism also affects how much or how little of that fuel we need which in turn affects how we gain or lose weight. Some people seem to gain weight if they so much as look at food, while others can eat anything they want and not gain a pound.

Gender Differences in Fat Distribution

Women generally have more fat on their bodies than men do. Women should have a range of body fat from 20 to 25% while men should have 10-15%. If those numbers increase to 30% for women or 20% for men, they are considered overweight. Men and women also vary in the distribution of body fat. Women tend to carry more fat in the hips and thighs, also called the gynoid, or pear, body type. Men, on the other hand, tend to accumulate fat around the abdomen; this is called android or apple shape.

Muscle Mass and Metabolism

Especially as we age, women tend to lose twice as much muscle mass as men do. This makes it more difficult for women to maintain or lose weight as they age. Since muscle mass and metabolism are closely linked, women have a much harder time losing, maintaining, or gaining weight as they age.

Boosting Metabolism

Most women and men are concerned about maintaining or losing their weight. The easiest way to do that is through a combined routine of dieting and exercise. Often, men and women approach these methods very differently.

Women and Metabolism

Women tend to exercise more control over the foods they consume and are much more likely than men to diet. When exercising, women usually focus on cardiovascular or relaxation exercises, including yoga and Pilates, while avoiding weight training because they don't want to bulk up. This approach is a bit misguided because it is, in fact, the muscle building exercises that can boost metabolism the most. If you most often do cardiovascular exercises, break up your routine. Do 90 seconds at a moderate pace and then 30 seconds of sprinting. Continue this technique throughout the routine.

Men and Metabolism

When men want to lose weight, they tend to go right to the free weights. If you survey a gym, you are most likely to spot men in the free weight section and women on the cardiovascular machines. Men tend to try and bulk up their muscles by performing only a few reps at a very high weight. But men usually overlook the importance of a balanced diet in their weight loss routine and stick to pumping iron. Men should work on including a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and protein into their lifestyle.


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