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Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

Feel like the weight loss odds are against you? Here's why it can be harder for some people to lose weight.
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2. You are female.

There are a number of reasons why men have the weight loss edge over women.

First of all, men have more muscle mass, compared to women, and women have a higher percentage of body fat than men. Muscle tissue burns more calories at rest than fat tissue. So it's no surprise that men's resting metabolic rate tends to be significantly higher than women's.

Also, women often deposit extra body weight in the hips, legs, and buttocks, while men tend to store extra weight in the midsection, says Robin Duncan, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at University of California Berkeley's Department of Nutrition Science and Toxicology. Extra fat around the gut is more actively recruited during times of energy need and thus may be easier to lose than fat on the legs and hips, explains Duncan.

Further, because men tend to be larger than women, they tend to burn more calories doing the same exercise as women.

"If they both run at the same pace for one hour, the woman will burn 500 calories, for example, while the man will burn closer to 700 calories," says Catenacci.

As if this weren't unfair enough, men also seem to be better at suppressing hunger when presented with food, according to findings of a recent study.

After 23 healthy, non-obese people fasted for 17 hours, researchers used cognitive inhibition techniques to try to suppress thoughts of hunger. They found that the technique significantly lowered the desire for food only in men. Subsequent brain scans of the men showed a decrease in activation in brain regions that are known to play a role in processing our awareness of the drive to eat.

3. You experience hunger, satisfaction, and stress differently than others.

Stevens believes that differences in how people experience hunger and cope with stress are important in determining who becomes overweight and who doesn't.

"Individual genetic differences in the numerous hormones and peptides made by the gut, brain, and fat cells (that regulate appetite, hunger, and satiety) may play a big role in predisposition to obesity and difficulty losing weight,” says Catenacci.

Researchers are only beginning to understand what might be at play here, and how it affects what and how much a person eats.

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