Get the latest from TODAY
Why is it easier for men to shed pounds? It may sound like a weight-loss myth, but women generally do have a more difficult time losing weight — and the reasons are both biological and behavioral.
During Wednesday's Take, anchor Tamron Hall played a SlimQuick commercial she's "been obsessed with for years" that shows one cartoon woman’s frustration with her husband’s huge weight loss, while the woman only slimmed down a few pounds on the same diet.
"It's true," said Natalie Morales. "You guys decide you're not going to eat bread and you lose 10 pounds."
Natural emotional differences between men and women play a huge role in weight loss challenges, says TODAY diet and nutrition editor Madelyn Fernstrom. “Behavioral barriers for women are much tougher than for many men. But typically, women struggle more because women tend to be more emotional eaters, rewarding ourselves with food high in calories, high in sweet, and high in fat,” said Fernstrom.
Men, she said, typically do not eat emotionally, to “suit the hungry heart.”
Men also tend to have more muscle mass that keeps metabolism revved up and helps them burn more calories, even at rest, says New York nutritionist Elisa Zied, R.D. "Men may be able to lose more fat in response to diet and exercise because belly fat, which is where men tend to accumulate more body fat, may be easier to lose than fat around hips and thighs —where women tend to accumulate body fat — especially in response to exercise," says Zied, author of "Younger Next Week."
Gaining muscle mass is harder for women because women don’t have the testosterone to fuel that sort of tissue, says Fernstrom. “It’s a sort of diet lure that if you built muscle, you’ll burn calories faster,” Fernstrom says. “Even men who don’t exercise have greater muscle mass to begin with. That’s the prime biological difference.”
But even if dropping pounds takes longer for women, "slow and steady is better than fast" when it comes to weight loss, says Zied.