The Metabolism And Women
It can be easier for a woman to gain weight and harder to lose it. Why is that? The reason is there are some biological and behavioural differences:
Men tend to have more muscle than women, and because muscle burns more calories than fat men tend to have a faster metabolism.
Through menstruation and also spikes in the hunger hormone “ghrelin” and lows of the satisfied hormone “leptin” women experience more hormonal changes which lead to weight gain and changes which make it harder to lose weight. Fluctuations can also cause bloating.
The female body has is programmed to store fat and fight energy deficits to preserve fertility. When women aren’t getting enough calories ovulation and hormones are suppressed.
There are broad dietary preferences between men and women. Men tend to prefer meat and protein while women often prefer carbs.
Side effects of medication commonly taken by women including contraceptives can cause weight gain.
Women are also naturally more resistant to the hormone leptin. Leptin is derived from the Greek word “leptos” which means “thin”. Leptin is the satiety hormone which is made by the body to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger. The opposite hormone, ghrelin is the hunger hormone. Both hormones act on brain impulses to regulate your appetite and stabilise your energy. When someone is obese they are less sensitive to leptin which results in an inability to detect satiety despite high stores of energy.
Weight gain and weight loss is about more than calories, exercise and willpower. Scientists are increasingly finding links to leptin. Being resistant to leptin, called leptin resistance is now believed to be the leading factor in weight gain. Leptin is the master hormone that regulates body weight and is produced by the body’s fat cells.
Leptin is meant to tell the brain that we have enough fat stored, don’t need to eat now and we can instead burn calories. Leptin’s main role is regulation of energy balance – the difference between the amount of calories we eat and expend and how much fat we store on our bodies. The leptin system has evolved to stop us starving or overeating.
Leptin is a hormone that is produced by the fat cells in the body. Its primary role is regulating how many calories we eat and burn, as well as how much fat we carry on our bodies.
Leptin resistance may be the main biological difference in obesity. Obese people have a lot of body fat in their body. Since fat cells produce leptin in proportion to their size, obese people have very high levels of leptin. In theory this means obese people should not need to eat more food – their brain should know that they have plenty of energy stored. However there is a communication breakdown and the message does not reach your brain. This is called leptin resistance, and is believed to be the main biological abnormality in obesity.
When the leptin signal does not get through to the brain, it wrongly thinks that the body is starving even though there are fat reserves. The brain thinks we must eat to avoid starving, and also thinks that we need to conserve energy. Additionally, losing weight reduces leptin, so the brain tries to regain weight.
If you have a lot of body fat, especially in the abdominal area, you are likely to be leptin resistant. Anyone can become leptin resistant, in the same way that someone can become insulin resistant through continuous overexposure to high levels of the hormone.
Reducing Leptin Resistance
• Avoid processed food – highly processed foods can increase inflammation
• Include soluble fibre and protein in your diet – eating soluble fibre can improve your digestive health, protein can help you lose weight and feel satisfied
• Reduce carbs to encourage your body to use stored fat as energy
• Exercise – physical activity may help to reverse leptin resistance
• Sleep – quality and quantity of sleep is known to affect leptin
• De-stress – stress and lack of sleep can affect the leptin hormone