Men and women are different. They look different, they act different—even the ways they gain and lose weight are different. Men and women store fat differently, in different amounts and different places on the body. You may have observed this phenomenon without understanding why it holds true. Why do women have more body fat than men, and why do men often find it easier to lose weight?

If dieting and exercise aren’t helping you lose as much weight as friends or loved ones of the opposite sex, it may not be your fault—it could be your biology. Keep reading to learn why men and women store fat differently and what you can do about it.

It’s in Your Genes

The biological differences between men and women mean that women naturally store more fat in their bodies. This is due to a higher concentration of the hormone estrogen, which prompts the body to store fat. Studies have shown that women can be healthy with body fat in the 20–25% range, while men should have less than 15% body fat.

If this sounds like women get the short end of the stick, remember that stored fat isn’t all negative. It reserves energy for the body until you need it, when it’s released for use through a process known as fat mobilization. Storing extra fat may be advantageous in many situations—for example, a Science Daily review found it can help women have healthy pregnancies.

illustration of subcutaneous fat distribution in women and men

What About Losing Weight?

Everyone has heard stories about couples that lose weight together. For two weeks, the woman goes on a strict diet, exercises religiously, and loses five pounds. Meanwhile, her partner simply stops drinking soda and loses 10 pounds.

It just doesn’t seem fair, does it? Why do men lose weight more quickly than women? Men have more muscle, meaning they burn more calories per day. However, over the long term, men and women lose a similar percentage of body weight when they follow similar diet and exercise programs.

The Problem Areas

Because men and women store fat differently, medical research has shown they have different problem areas.

Men have more trouble with fat in the upper body. That’s why the beer belly is such a prominent feature of the “Dad Bod” people are always talking about these days. This exercise-resistant fat responds better to diet than exercise. Because this visceral fat surrounds internal organs, it can lead to a range of health problems.

Women typically carry more fat than men, but it’s distributed differently. Women store fat in their hips, thighs, and butt, and while this subcutaneous fat is diet-resistant, leading to greater struggles with weight loss, it also comes with fewer health issues according to WebMD. Ample subcutaneous fat in these areas can also be a sign of strong metabolic health.

illustration of female and male body composition

Diet and Exercise

Even though men and women store and use fat differently, the key to natural weight loss is diet and exercise.

However, not all exercise is equal. Aerobic exercise can improve your metabolic rate somewhat, but lifting weights is a more effective way for both men and women to reduce belly fat quickly. Weightlifting increases muscle mass, which causes your to body use more calories, even when you’re at rest. Building muscle mass can help women lose that diet-resistant subcutaneous fat that has plagued them for years.

For your diet, protein is the key. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that women eat at least 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight every day. This means the average 170-pound woman should eat around 85 grams of protein every day. Consuming protein can help women build muscle, boost their fat metabolism, and lose weight more easily.

When Diet and Exercise Aren’t Enough

Sometimes, no amount of diet and exercise is enough to reach your fitness goals. The differences in body fat distribution between men and women mean that some women will always struggle with excess fat in their butt, hips, and thighs, where they want it the least. Men may struggle with fat in the upper body.

We have a solution for both men and women that struggle. Our HD Body Sculpting treatment can take fat from your problem areas and put you back in your favorite jeans from high school. For men, the lean, muscular look that you’ve always imagined in the mirror can be in reach.

Man or woman, your appearance is up to you, and we can help you look and feel the way you want to. Call or book a consultation online today so we can talk about your new body.

McKay Taylor
Author: McKay Taylor

McKay has a love and passion for health and physical aesthetics. He went to Utah State on a full-ride academic scholarship, majoring in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Exercise Science and Sports Nutrition. McKay is currently the CMO of Belle Medical, a competitive bodybuilder, and a Certified Personal Trainer and Dietitian. When he’s not reading up on the latest breakthroughs in health and fitness research, he’s working hard to set trends of his own. Most importantly, McKay truly believes that with proper eating habits, training, and the right medical interventions (a la Belle Medical), no physique or personal body goal is out of reach for ANYONE.