Losing weight – especially body fat – is HARD.
And I think we can totally agree that it often seems so much harder for women than it is for men! What’s up with that?! Why is the female body more stubborn when it comes to losing fat?!
It’s even more frustrating because at the same time, we’ve been programmed by the media and diet culture to resent our curves. Even the word “fat” leaves a bad taste in our mouths. We’re told it’s unhealthy and unattractive. We’re ashamed of cellulite and every single roll or dimple.
But let’s stop and take a second to think about why women carry weight differently than men. I mean, there must be a reason WHY, right?
Finding the perfect jeans to fit our curves may never be easy. But can we learn and appreciate the nature behind those curves a little more?!!!
I think so. Let’s talk about it.
Yes, it’s normal for women to have more fat than men
It’s true that women tend to have a higher body fat percentage than men. The difference might surprise you! Here’s how the recommendations for body fat differ, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE):
|Essential Fat||10 – 13%||2 – 5%|
|Athlete||14 – 20%||6 – 13%|
|Fitness||21 – 24%||14 – 17%|
|Acceptable||25 – 31%||18 – 24%|
I mean, just look at the ESSENTIAL category. This just shows how much more fat women NEED in order to function properly.
It’s all about reproduction
Women need more fat to support the reproductive process. Plain and simple.
It’s pretty amazing when you really think about it!
It takes A LOT of fat to support a healthy pregnancy. I mean, you’re growing a human, and the most important nutrient to develop one of the most important body parts – the brain – is FAT. So yeah, of course our bodies are stingy about getting rid of fat so we can make sure we have enough for a baby, even if a baby isn’t on the radar.
If our diet is too restrictive, our reproductive system literally stops working. Our period stops. Our hormones are all over the place. It takes a serious toll on our bodies. It’s actually a very real, scary thing for young, female athletes who are exercising intensely with very low body fat. The long-term risks? Psychological issues, reproductive issues down the road and most commonly – low bone density, leading to osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Curves are there for a reason
Women store fat differently than men too! Most of the time, women tend to store more fat in their hips and thighs. Men store extra fat mostly in the abdomen.
First, women just have more adipocytes (fat cells) in their hips and thighs. It goes back to the childbearing thing. We need more fat, and that’s just where our body wants to store it. The rest is pretty much hormonal. Having more estrogen causes more weight gain in this area of the body, whereas men have higher testosterone, which usually leads to weight gain in the belly area.
It’s so much more interesting when we think about this all scientifically, right?! Our bodies are miraculous machines and it’s doing its thing to keep us functioning as efficiently as possible!
Fat ≠ Unhealthy
Fat does not mean unhealthy.
Actually, the right amount of fat is VERY healthy. It gives us energy, it releases hormones to regulate hunger and inflammation, and it’s good for the skin, joints and organs.
And the right amount for women is never going to be the same as it is for men. In fact, it’s never going to be identical from person to person. Healthy looks different for everyone but knowing the science behind why helps us understand how to love and appreciate our bodies so much more.