“Men are statistically heavier, have a slightly higher bone density, and are often taller than the average woman,” says Liakeas. The result: they naturally need slightly larger muscles even in the absence of exercise, to carry their bodies, which could explain their (on average) improved metabolism and ability to eat more without gaining weight as quickly as the opposite sex.
“The thyroid is the boss of the metabolic process in the body,” says Frank Lipman, M.D., founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC. Testosterone, the mostly I-am-man-hear-me-roar hormone, also plays a role in the increased amount of lean muscle mass in men. “Women produce both estrogen and testosterone, but have more estrogen — the main female sex hormone responsible for menstruation and reproduction — than testosterone, roaming through the body, while men have the reverse,” says Liakeas.
Photo: Via H&M
Let’s face it. Women usually have them. And men typically don’t. “Women tend to gain weight more peripherally (hips, thighs, etc), as well as in their breasts and glutes, which tends to be the deeper more subcutaneous fat, while men tend to gain weight centrally,” says Liakeas. Translation: They’re more prone to having a beer belly. (The major exception is after menopause, when women can have an increase in tummy fat due to the lower production or lack of production of estrogen.)
Besides the places where we store fat, another point of difference is how men and women burn fat. “Although the female body is a highly effective fat burner, it also appears to be more effective at storing fat, probably due to estrogen,” says Liakeas. “Estrogen seems to have a slightly different (perhaps negative) effect on fat breakdown, and this may have an evolutionary role as women are the baby carriers and feeders, while the males [historically] play the hunter roles.”
Mom And Dad
Sometimes, the way your metabolism works is just like your hair color — it's what you’re born with. “There is an uncertain genetic link, but some people tend to just have a slower metabolism than others,” says Liakeas. See your doctor if you think you have a legit metabolism issue. Otherwise, here's what you can do: Eat clean and super colorful—opt for fruits and veggies and fresh foods over processed kinds — workout consistently, and be the healthiest version of you that you possibly can.