Calories: Males vs. Females

- POSTED ON: Apr 13, 2013

Even siblings consuming similar diets may respond to calories differently, let alone people of different age, shape, gender, and lifestyle.

One calorie for one person is often more, than one calorie for someone else, and this is one reason why weight-loss diets, and weight maintenance diets, can fail.

AGE DIFFERENCE. Younger women of the exact same shape, weight, height, and even genetic background will always lose weight faster on the exact same diet as older women.

You are not your 20+ year old daughter. She is at the peak of her procreation mission with a metabolism to match. She is still learning about the world around her and has an incredibly busy brain, which is a large consumer of glucose. Her body may still be growing. She is healthier. She may be taller. Her body has more muscles, even if she is the exact same size and shape as you are. She has only half of your genes; the other half is from her father. She is more active simply because she can be. She sleeps better than you, even if she sleeps less. She needs more calories simply because she is younger. As the body ages, it needs less and less calories to maintain the same weight.

. The female body contains significantly less muscle than males of similar shape and weight. Women experience faster loss of muscle throughout pregnancy, breastfeeding, and natural aging. Since muscles are one of the most demanding users of energy, their age-related loss reduces the rate of energy uptake, and, correspondingly, increases the gain of body fat.

GLUCOSE UPTAKE BY MUSCLES. Along with the brain, central nervous system, and blood, muscles are the most prolific consumers of glucose. That is why most men on a low-carb diet lose weight faster than women and don’t gain it as quickly with a larger intake of carbohydrates.

Women require fewer carbohydrates than men, yet at the same time improperly structured ultra-low-carbohydrate diets can be inappropriate for older women because these may tend to accelerate muscle wasting.

GREATER FAT MASS. Women have a higher ratio of body fat to total body weight than men. Body fat is essential for reproductive functions, healthy pregnancy, and nursing. As body fat falls below a certain level — around 10% to 15% — infertility and amenorrhea (the absence of a period) set in.

Because body fat plays such an essential role in female reproductive and overall health, women gain fat faster than men on similar or smaller amounts of foods.

THERMOS  EFFECT. As one gains fat, the body lowers the internal rate of energy metabolism (i.e., produces less heat) because the internal organs are cuddled in the warm blanket of one’s own fat, or, as doctors would say, adipose tissue. That is why overweight people are far less sensitive to cold than skinny ones. Unfortunately, this effect has a profoundly negative impact on the ability to lose weight because the rate of metabolism is so much lower, and this has little or nothing to do with thyroid or adrenal glands that one might think are “underactive.”

HEIGHT. A person’s height is an important factor in energy metabolism and, correspondingly, in obesity and weight loss. All other things being equal, taller people lose weight faster because their “lengthier” bodies expend more energy to support cardiovascular, respiratory, and thermogenic (keeping itself warm) functions.

This doesn’t mean that tall people don’t become overweight or obese - They DO. Still, on the exact same diet they will be losing weight faster and gaining it slower. This observation becomes important when determining portion sizes.

When foods are plentiful,
satiety is portion-oriented, not need-oriented.
In other words, we don’t eat as much as we NEED,
but we eat as much as we WANT.

Portions nowadays are designed to accommodate an “average” person’s capacity to ingest foods until his or her stomach is totally loaded. When there are more tall/large/overweight people in a society with larger stomachs, short/small/skinny people inevitably overeat.

The shorter a person is, regardless of gender, the more attention that person must pay to portion sizes. Shorter people also face the greatest difficulty during weight loss because their stretched out stomach and mental perception of satiety are preconditioned to eating larger portions of foods.

. The body doesn’t really know the difference between weight loss and starvation. All it knows is that it is under duress from undernutrition and facing extinction. That is why a scarcity of nutrients during weight loss diets, or even from poor nutrition, instantly lowers the energy and structural metabolism, throttles down weight loss, and speeds up the accumulation of body fat. In females, this is partly in order to protect a female’s reproductive health and milk supply for potential offspring from the possibility of starvation-related death.

ENERGY REQUIREMENTS. With all other things being equal  - temperature, level of activity, age, height, and weight  - the female body still has a lower demand for energy from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates than the male body, due to not only substantially less muscle but also smaller lungs and a smaller heart, less blood volume, and an inherently less physically demanding response - flight instead of fight -  to external stress. This difference is particularly significant in the reduced uptake of energy from glucose by the blood, muscles, and central nervous system.

An identical piece of cake for one person may represent twice as many relative calories to a similarly shaped person. In other words, when eating cake, a female body will use a portion of its calories for energy, and the balance goes right into making body fat, while a similar male body will use the entire allotment of calories from the exact same cake exclusively for making energy, with nothing left for fat.

The same can be said about fats and proteins, though the difference may be not as drastic as with carbohydrates because a larger portion of these nutrients is used for structural metabolism. The demands of structural metabolism in women may be greater than in men (with all other things being equal) because female reproductive functions demand a greater deal of nutrients.

The dietary requirements for a woman’s energy, particularly from carbohydrates, are substantially less than a man’s. When it comes to losing weight, the situation is stacked against women, who need to decrease their caloric intake considerably more than men to accomplish the same amount of weight loss in the same span of time.

REPRODUCTIVE HORMONES. The reduction of estrogen related to age, pregnancy, lactation, stress, undernutrition, and contraceptives may lead to gradual weight gain typical for middle-aged women and diminish the rate of weight loss. Since adipose tissue (i.e., body fat) produces estrogen in parallel with the ovaries, some believe the female body compensates the age-related decrease of ovarian estrogen by lowering the rate of energy metabolism in order to accumulate more fat, thereby allowing it to produce more estrogen.

FOOD PREPARATION. Usually, women spend more time in the kitchen while cooking for their families. Unfortunately, the continuous exposure to food comes with an increase in appetite, hunger, cravings, and, in many cases, inevitable overeating. For many people, food preparation is a definite obesity hazard.

EATING OUT. Restaurants don’t provide a gender-specific menu. Identical steaks are placed in front of a petite woman and an oversized, bodybuilding man as a matter of course. Women, who dine out often, must be mindful of this Truth and demand half portions or split main courses with their companions.

CHRONIC DIETER SYNDROME. Women have a propensity for recurrent dieting. Each consecutive diet cycle, especially one low in fat and protein, can compromise the body’s essential endocrine functions, slow the rates of metabolism, and stimulate the over-consumption of carbohydrates, which leads to the accumulation of more fat and reductions of muscle and bone mass

SOME people believe that a weight loss diet is like an antibiotic in that … if a pill is taken, one needs to finish the full course; otherwise, antibiotic-resistant bacteria that may harm you later is created. According to this THEORY, … the more a person diets halfway, the more resistant that body becomes to weight loss and more accommodating to weight gain.

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Existing Comments:

On Apr 13, 2013 jethro wrote:
I agree with all these points. However, women can overcome their smaller muscle mass by hard core weight training. I've seen at the gym bodybuilder ladies more muscular than most of the guys there, including me.

On Apr 14, 2013 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Remember the Genetic body types are Ectomorph, Mesomorph, Endomorph. SOME men have the type of bodies that tend to put on muscle quickly, and some don't. This is also true of SOME women...think Mesomorph. Look at magazine and media pictures of athletic models and you'll see the kind of bodies that SOME GENETICALLY BLESSED women who tend to be a combination of Ectomorph and Mesomorph are able to achieve .... together with diet and exercise (and sometimes plastic surgery).

On Apr 24, 2015 missusriverrat wrote:
This is great information/analysis !

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