Katie Couric Demystifies Gender Weight Loss

From her newsletter

Do Men Really Lose Weight Faster Than Women?

By Katie Couric Media

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If you’re a woman who’s tried to lose weight alongside your male partner, you might’ve noticed that the pounds seem to drop off way faster for him than they do for you. It’s a frustrating situation: You’re strenuously avoiding sweets every night and not seeing the scale move, and he eats one less bagel a week, then sees impressive results. 

We asked trainer Larysa DiDio (who’s trained Katie herself) for her take on the great gender weight debate: Do men really lose weight faster than women and, if so, why? Here’s her thoughts.

Katie Couric:  Is it true that men lose weight faster than women, or are women just imagining this phenomenon? 

Larysa DiDio: Yes! At least at first. In a British Journal of Nutrition Study, when men and women were put on the same weight-loss program, the men lost twice as much weight and 3x as much body fat as the women, in 3 months. But the good news is, if the women stuck to the program, the weight loss evened out at the 6-month mark, with men just slightly in the lead.

What part does metabolism play? What can women do to boost theirs?

It plays a huge role! Men naturally have more lean muscle mass than women, thanks to testosterone. That boosts their metabolisms not only while they work out, but while they’re at rest as well. The best things that women can do — in this order — to increase their metabolism is:

  • weight train with challenging weights
  • interval train to burn calories speedily
  • eat lean protein, which helps to increase muscle
  • eat small meals every 3-4 hours, to keep your blood sugar stable

Some say that there’s an optical illusion at play and, because men tend to carry excess weight around their abdomen, it’s just more noticeable when they lose it — have you found that to be the case?

Yes and no. Actually, men win in both ways here. They really do lose more weight…and when they do lose it, because they hold most of their weight in their bellies, it’s much more immediately noticeable. This also serves as a huge plus because it boosts their motivation and confidence, causing them to want to keep going!

We all know we need to diet and exercise to lose weight — is one more important than the other?

I’d say diet comes first, then exercise — but a combination of both is optimal. You can exercise like crazy, but if you’re not eating well, you’ll never lose the weight. If you diet but don’t exercise, it may take you longer to lose weight than with the combo of the two, but you’ll still lose it. You just won’t look as good from the outside, because the exercise also builds muscle, makes you look more toned, and lowers body fat.

For fitness, I love cross training. I believe the more varied your exercise routine is, the stronger and healthier your body is. This is what I normally recommend for my clients.

  • 2 days of strength training (with 10 mins of cardio)
  • 3 days of cardio (20-45 mins)..change up the activity
  • 1 day of extracurricular (workout class, martial arts, Pilates, yoga, etc)
  • And a day of rest

What do you consistently see women doing in terms of exercise that just isn’t productive for healthy weight loss?

There are so many, including:

  • Starving themselves
  • Taking weight-loss pills
  • Doing too much heavy HIIT [high impact interval training] exercise
  • Training with weights that are too light
  • Overtraining
  • Relying primarily on mind/body exercises (think: yoga)
  • Doing too much LISS [low intensity steady state] cardio

What’s your advice for frustrated women watching their partners lose weight faster than they are?

Move out for 3 months! Just kidding. Honestly, they need to make sure they keep their emotional eating in control. It’s actually helpful to check in with their partner and watch how guys focus on their tasks and don’t overthink the diet process. I often coach my female clients to “diet like a guy.” A woman will come home and complain that she ate half of a pecan pie for lunch because she was stressed at work. When guys go into “diet mode,” they hunker down and just do it, without overthinking. There’s no wiggle room for them. Also I think that just being kind to yourself and knowing that the guy might lose it a little faster — at first, at least — is helpful.

If that doesn’t work, maybe bring in a little friendly competition — or have some pizzas delivered to your partner’s office

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