Unfortunately for us women, studies have shown that it’s much harder for us to lose weight than most men.
The research shows we’re more likely to overeat and ‘reward eat’ after exercise whereas men tend to have no increased appetite after exercise so have a higher rate of weight loss success than we do.
We can counteract this by making sure we don’t do too much chronic exercise and by watching what we eat. The problem is, as human beings we’re designed to crave variety in our diet as a survival mechanism to make sure we get all the nutrients we need. On top of this women also tend to find more ‘comfort’ in food and psychologically miss our favorite foods more than men do. That’s why dieting and women should never mix!
We also have metabolic and hormonal differences to men and not only do our hormones fluctuate monthly but they also change over our life cycle which can significantly effect the way we store and lose weight throughout our lives.
Most of us store weight around our hips and thighs which can be extremely hard to get rid of, while men tend to store weight around the abdomen.
During menopause we also start to store more fat around the abdomen because our estrogen levels start to drop significantly. Insulin sensitivity (from eating too often throughout our lives) can occur in both overweight and normal weight women and causes abdominal fat deposition. Unfortunately for women with a higher level of abdominal fat (which is likely to cause insulin resistance) it’s harder to lose weight when starting out with intermittent fasting.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2001) measured glucose metabolism during fasts in lean and abdominally obese women. It concluded that the normal decline in glucose production and uptake that occurs while fasting (which helps with the fat burning process) is less efficient in women with abdominal fat during the first 14 hours of a fast.
So if you’re having trouble losing weight with fasting and carry some abdominal weight you may need to increase the duration of your fast from 16 to 18 hours each day, or try two 24 hour fasts per week to get the results you need after the 14th hour of fasting onward.
Your weight loss may be gradual at first but as you lose weight (especially abdominal fat) and you become more insulin sensitive (when you start to become a fat burner not a sugar burner) your weight loss should start to significantly improve. So hang in there!