Is it easier for men to lose weight?

In my office, I do see couples where both partners are interested in weight loss. Inevitably, at some point I’m asked the question, “He always loses weight so much faster than me, he’s going to have a much easier time isn’t he?” The simple truth is — Yes.

Men do indeed tend to have an easier time losing weight than women, and may also have an easier time keeping it off. It’s not that they’ve got more willpower or are more committed to weight loss, it’s just that as a general rule men are taller and more muscular and, therefore, burn a lot more in the way of calories.

Weight loss, of course, means consuming fewer calories than you’re burning. Therefore, the more calories you burn, the more wiggle room you’ve got in terms of dietary choice and the easier weight loss becomes. In other words, there’s a big difference between the ease and speed of weight loss between a 6’2” man who weighs 300lbs and a 5’2” woman who weighs 160lbs.

Yet despite that, often times couples will purposely eat the same-sized portions for dinner or make the same choices when eating out. This can certainly lead to weight gain for womenI’ve been told that for some families it’s an unwritten “right” that the adults eat the same-sized portions. From a calorie perspective, that’s usually quite unwise.

One of the smartest things anyone could do in trying to lose weight is to try to gain a better understanding of their daily calories — both in terms of those that they burn as well as those they consume.

To calculate how many calories you burn, simply plug into the following equations:

For women: Calories burned per day = [10 x weight (kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] – [5 x age in years] – 161

For men: Calories burned per day = [10 x weight (kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] – [5 x age in years] + 5

weight conversion chart

height conversion chart

Sedentary or Active?
If you are sedentary, multiply the number you calculated above by 1.2 to determine how many calories you burn per day. If you’re very active multiply by 1.7 and of course if you’re somewhere in between, split the difference and multiply by 1.45.

Once you know how many calories you burn in a daytime you can then simply keep track of how many calories you consume. So long as you’re consuming less than you’re burning, you’ll be losing weight.

In fact, perhaps the best exercise anyone could undertake to better understand eating patterns and weight loss is to spend some time tracking daily calories. If you don’t know where they’re coming from, it’s going to be very hard to know what to change.

Remember too that “eating healthy” does not mean controlling calories – the fact is, you can lose weight on an all ice-cream diet and gain weight on an all salad diet, it just depends how much of each you have.

The most important feature of any diet is what I call liveability. You need to be able to answer the question, “Could you live like this for the rest of your life?” with an unqualified and resounding “Yes!” Otherwise, you’ll simply be on a temporary diet and as soon as you go back to old habits, the calories will return.

About the author: Dr. Yoni Freedhoff MD, CCFP, is one of only three physicians in Canada certified by the American Board of Bariatric Medicine (ABBM), specializing in the management of obesity. He is a member of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Canadian College of Family Physicians. He appears regularly on Ottawa’s A-Channel as their nutritional and medical expert.


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