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Weight-Loss Wars: Men vs. Women

Are the sexes really different when it comes to losing weight

Sometimes, it just doesn't seem fair. It seems like we women can just look at a decadent dessert and feel our hips widening, while all a man has to do is cut back his portions a little and watch the numbers on the scale drop.

Why do men lose weight faster than women? Or is that just a myth? Just for fun, we decided to take a look at sex differences -- real and perceived -- in the weight loss wars.

One big difference between the sexes lies in food preferences, according to Katherine Tallmadge, RD, the author of Diet Simple. "Men love their meat, and women are attached to carbohydrates," she says.

That doesn't mean one type of eating has the edge, however. "I individualize eating plans to allow both men and women to enjoy their preferences for carbs or protein, providing they select the healthy versions," says Tallmadge, who is also a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Another difference Tallmadge sees in her practice is that women tend to be fairly knowledgeable about food and calories, while the men don't think much about nutrition.

"As soon as the men start paying attention to healthier food choices, they tend to get quick results," says Tallmadge. Call it beginner's luck!

There are some weight loss tricks that work equally well for both sexes, she says.

Both women and men who have been skipping breakfast usually get quick results when they add a healthy breakfast into their plan, observes Tallmadge. "I also advise everyone to divide their eating plans equally so that one-third of their calories is eaten before lunch."

Let's Get Physical

The simple truth is that men are larger and have more muscle than women due to the hormone testosterone. They are genetically designed to have a higher percentage of muscle and less fat -- which works in favor of keeping them fit and allowing them to eat more calories.

But with a little work, women can even up the odds a bit. To build more muscle and get your engine revving, pick up some weights and start pumping. You'll increase your muscle mass and decrease your fat stores by doing strength training at least twice a week.

Not only will strength training build muscle mass and help you burn more calories, but it will also strengthens your bones, preventing osteoporosis -- a disease primarily of women. (And, of course, it gives you a more shapely physique.)

There is at least one area where women have the edge, weight-wise. When men deposit fat, it most often goes to their middles, while women's excess weight tends to settle below the belt and in the middle. And it turns out that the "pear-shaped" body has a health advantage over the "apple": Those who carry extra fat mostly around their middles are at higher risk of developing heart disease than those who are bottom-heavy.

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