6 Weight Loss Struggles Only Men UnderstandArticle posted in: Nutrisystem for Men
It really is easier for men to lose weight than women: Thanks to factors including muscle mass and metabolism, men burn calories more efficiently, and can drop pounds quicker.
But just because it’s easier doesn’t mean it’s easy. Men still struggle to lose, and in some ways that create troubles women are lucky enough to avoid.
Here are the six reasons weight loss for men is a struggle (all men can relate):
1. You were taught to clean your plate.
In a 2014 study, scientists found that people who have a tendency to clear their plates were more likely to be overweight or obese. And that’s a problem. Portion sizes, especially at restaurants, are ridiculous: If you order a burger, fries and soda… and eat the whole plate, you can be downing well over 1,000 calories at one meal—and that’s with medium fries, not large. (Fast food junkie? Check out this recipe round-up. It’s got diet-approved versions of your drive-through go-tos).
If you’re a guy that has had plate-clearing ingrained in your mind since a young age, it can be tough to change this behavior. One strategy: When eating out, order a to-go box to arrive with your meal. Cut the portion in half right away, stashing the other half in the doggy bag before you dig in. Studies suggest that putting visual distance between yourself and food could potentially decrease the amount you consume. Then, with your plate only containing half a portion, clear your plate. You’ll get the satisfaction of not leaving bites on your dish, but eat a portion that’s more reasonable and can help with your weight loss efforts.
Parents raised you to clean your plate? Check out some of these other Things You Learned as a Child That Cause Weight Gain as an Adult >
2. “Diet foods” are often “women’s foods.”
Thanks to marketing, media and long-time preferences, experts believe that food really can be “gendered.” Fruits, vegetables and salads are considered “women’s foods” by society, while fattier, more calorie-dense foods are considered appealing to men. So, when a man gets healthy weight loss advice—to eat smaller portions and eat more vegetables—he’s not just being told to change how much he eats, but what he eats. A double change! Compounding the problem, is that so-called “men’s foods” fall into the high-fat categories scientists say can be addictive.
3. It can be harder—or less socially acceptable—to seek support.
Even though an estimated 60 percent of Americans are currently trying to lose weight—and men struggle with their weight at alarming rates—dieting is still not considered “manly” to do so. And while you may have heard that 10 percent of men suffer from eating disorders, more recent research estimates that more like one in four guys are engaged in disordered eating.
If you can’t talk about it, it’s hard to get support—and social support is key to weight loss success. According to one study published by the National Institutes of Health, only 24 percent of people who enrolled in a weight loss program by themselves lost weight and kept it off for six months. On the other hand, 66 percent of those with a social support system had this success.
4. Eating out with friends can hinder your efforts.
This one goes hand in hand with support. Going out with the guys means challenging each other to eat and drink with gusto. Obviously, this will impact weight loss. In research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions, people had a 60 percent chance of a “diet relapse,” if they ate out with others.
Guys don’t need to be hermits to lose weight, though. Handle these social outings with a little planning and some courage. For the planning, check out the menu for the restaurant you’re visiting before you get there. Check the nutrition information and figure out exactly what you’ll eat and drink in advance. When your friends egg you on for one more round, it’s courage time: Instead of hiding your weight loss efforts (because they’re not “manly”), tell your friends that you’re trying to lose weight, and why it’s your goal. If you get some gentle ribbing, so be it. The confidence to tell them will be more masculine than anything you’re hiding.
5. As you age, you need fewer calories anyway.
One of the reasons weight loss for men is easier is muscle: Men have about 25 more pounds of skeletal muscle on average than women, and more muscle relative to their overall body mass—about 38.4 percent for men compared to 30.6 percent for women. That muscle burns calories, which means men can burn food off more easily.
However, that muscle isn’t here to stay: Both men and women lose muscle as they age. To make up for this loss of muscle mass, your calorie consumption should be falling each year. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, men in their 30s need about 200 more calories per day than men in their 50s do. So even after you lose weight, you can’t “eat like you used to,” which can be a struggle to adjust to and continue to adjust to, year after year.
6. Diets can leave you with really low energy.
In addition to muscle mass, men’s testosterone levels fall about one percent per year. Being obese can make it worse: 40 percent of obese men have low testosterone
Low testosterone doesn’t just mean less chest hair—it means a lack of vim, vigor and energy. When you cut calories too drastically, in addition to this loss of energy, you can be left feeling really sluggish. Many weight loss programs that aren’t customized for men could leave guys eating as few as 1,200 calories. While there’s isn’t a ton of science to back up the idea that this puts your body into a fat-storing “starvation” mode, it might be too few calories to maintain your energy. And if you feel sluggish on a diet, you’re unlikely to want to stick to it.
Men who use Nutrisystem, like football Hall of Famer Dan Marino, report that they don’t feel hungry, and that the options for meals and grab-and-go snacks keep them feeling energized. Plus, there’s good news about those T levels: Losing weight has been shown to increase them, so the more success you have, the more energy you’ll get.