The Real Way To Lose Fat (Men Vs Women!)
Fat is, unfortunately, the human body’s lifeline. From an evolutionary perspective, consuming more than we need and being able to store it for later could literally save you from a life or death situation.
Now, with the abundance and availability of food, the reasons we store fat tend to be redundant.
Not to mention we don’t move nearly as much as we did a century ago, because we just don’t have to.
Our biology appears to work against us these days.
Cue the fat loss hacks, supplements, and “guaranteed” solutions in an effort to solve this epidemic of fat.
I’m going to start today with the biology of fat storage and then go into what you need to do to get rid of it.
The Problem Areas
Women, in general, have a larger proportion of their body mass as fat and are more likely to deposit fat subcutaneously in their lower extremities. (2) Subcutaneous fat is stored just below the surface of the skin.
Men store less fat in general and are more likely to deposit visceral fat around the midsection. (2) Visceral fat is stored around internal organs and is associated with more health risks. (1)
A woman’s problem areas tend to be the arms, hips, thighs, and calves. While males tend to store fat in the chest, midsection, and the “love handles”.
These differences are significant. Fat and fertility are linked for women and are heavily associated with child-bearing ability. Hence the need for subcutaneous fat that can be more easily metabolized in times of need. (2)
The reason these differences exist come down to hormones. More specifically, testosterone and estrogen.
Both males and females have both hormones, but testosterone is higher in males and referred to as the “male” hormone while estrogen is higher in women and dubbed the “female” hormone.
Hormones in the human body act as signals that cause many different changes to happen. Testosterone and estrogen signal fat to be stored in different ways.
Predictably, testosterone causes more fat storage around the midsection and estrogen causes more fat storage in the lower body. (1)
It also should be noted that testosterone is anabolic in nature and favours breaking down fat and building up muscle. (3)
Nutrition and strength training are your go-to solutions.
But for females especially, strength training should be your priority. This will allow you to build lean muscle, which makes fat loss easier, and also help increase existing levels of testosterone which further assists in fat loss. (3)
Before we go further I have to address a specific and far too common concern.
“Will I get too bulky from strength training?”
Nope. It can be hard enough for males to put on muscle even with all of the testosterone we have. And females have significantly less, making it very difficult to put on the amount of muscle you would need to appear “bulky”.
Putting on lean mass not only makes you stronger and more toned, but remember that lean muscle is anabolic itself and requires energy to maintain. This makes it a lot easier to burn fat away.
So don’t be afraid of the weights. Go in there and kick butt!
For males, nutrition should be your focus for fat loss. Since we already have larger amounts of testosterone and greater amounts of muscle mass, we need to get our eating in check.
I’ll hark back to the calorie balance equation in that it’s impossible to out-train your diet. In order to lose fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit IN ADDITION to strength training. Too many guys think they can just work it off in the gym. That’s not the case.
That’s not to say nutrition isn’t important for women and strength training isn’t for men. But we need to address our biological differences in order to get the results we want.
Don’t waste time on marketing hacks
There are no shortcuts to getting these results. No, you can’t freeze your fat and burn it off or take a pill in order to force yourself to get rid of it.
And you can’t spot reduce fat. Doing crunches doesn’t get rid of belly fat just like bicep curls don’t get rid of arm fat.
So next time you see “3 Exercises to reduce saggy arms”, you know to ignore it.
If you don’t fix the underlying habits that are resulting in fat storage in the first place, you’ll never get to where you want to be.
Train hard and eat well. That’s all.
Easier said than done I know, but with a scientific, evidence-based approach, you can reach your goals.
To your good health,
1. Elbers, J., Asscheman, H., Seidell, J., Gooren, L. (1999). Effects of sex steroid hormones on regional fat deposits as assessed by magnetic resonance imaging in transsexuals. J of Physiology. 276(2):317-325.
2. Power, M., Schulkin, J. (2008). Sex differences in fat storage, fat metabolism, and the health risks from obesity: possible evolutionary origins. British Journal of Nutrition. 99(5): 931-940.
3. Trembley, M., Copeland, J., Helder, W. (2004). Effect of training status and exercise mode on endogenous steroid hormones in men. Journal of Applied Physiology. 96(2): 531-539.