By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
One of my favorite topics to discuss is the differences between how men and women approach weight loss – because after all, we focus a lot of time and energy on how women lose weight, but we certainly can’t forget the guys too.
Having spent years coaching both men and women through weight loss efforts both in the Reboot setting, the hospital and now even in my own practice, I find that without any intervention, the method by which men and women approach weight loss is drastically different. And rightfully so, because our bodies work quite differently as well.
As you may or may not know, major differences exist in how our bodies work, which affects our weight loss approach too. For example, the male body runs hotter, has more lean muscle and has a very different hormonal structure than the female body. Weight loss for men will need a different approach then for women and play to certain areas of strength (and weakness) when it comes to their success in making key lifestyle and behavior changes.
Here are 5 considerations for men looking to lose weight:
One of the biggest things that I find with men trying to lose weight is the inclination to cut back on calories more significantly than women in some cases. This is both helpful and hurtful, as by cutting back too much, one can slow metabolism and actually prevent weight loss altogether. So there’s definitely a delicate balance. It’s also not only about calories either.
I find that one of the biggest issues for men (weight loss or not) is to limit number of meals per day. Instead of having 3 meals, I find many men will have one maybe two meals and go for long periods of time between eating. This is only a perceived benefit, as actually one can end up hungrier and more likely to overeat in this kind of scenario. Also, blood sugar doesn’t love inconsistent eating, so this can cause a dip in energy too.
Men tend to see food and health more black and white than women, which can be both helpful and hurtful. It can often be helpful in that men will decide to do something cold turkey, while women may exist a little more in the gray area. Both have advantages, but as for weight loss, a black and white way of thinking may be advantageous whereas for long-term weight maintenance, a little more gray area tends to be a little more helpful.
Men tend to be less emotionally-inclined to eat (although this isn’t always the case either). The emotional aspect is of course just as important to discuss with men as with women, but seems to be more salient and able to be maneuvered for men, perhaps due to their more black and white method of thinking. This is also a positive when it comes to weight loss and achieving goals.
Some research indicates that men may be better able to perceive success with these kinds of goals than women can. Attitude is absolutely everything. This goes generally in life, and also when it comes to weight loss and reaching health goals, playing up this positive attribute can help men be ultra successful in their weight loss efforts, because having a good attitude really does go a long way when it comes to making healthy and sustainable changes.
So, you’ve heard about all of the things that men are likely to do (again, these are general statements and I realize they don’t apply to all men!) when they’re trying to lose weight, but guys, what should you actually do?