Bad news, women… men lose TWICE the fat by dieting – but scientists claim your weight loss efforts will be more successful when you turn 45
For women of a certain age, spread in middle age seems impossible to prevent.
But actually, women may find that their diet is more successful after they go through menopause.
One study found that women over 45 who cut back on calories for a month were able to lose about 10 percent of their body fat.
That compared to just eight percent body fat lost by women under 45 on the same diet.
Unfortunately for younger women trying to slim down as a couple, men under 45 were found to lose more fat than women when they consumed fewer calories.
Research shows that men are more successful with dieting before the age of 45 than women, but the difference between the sexes disappears after this age (stock image)
But the difference between the sexes disappeared past this age, when women approached or passed menopause.
The hopeful results of a diet for older women come from a small study of 45 people, but researchers think they have further evidence, from mouse experiments, that losing fat is easier for older women.
Younger female mice stored more fat and burned less of it than males while dieting – probably because fat is important for fertility and childbearing.
That suggests, for mice and women, that it’s easier to get rid of fat after childbearing age, when it’s no longer needed.
Dr. William Cawthorn, who led the study from the University of Edinburgh, said: ‘These results are good news for women who may have struggled with dieting at a younger age, as they suggest that results may get better with age.
“It’s a good incentive not to give up.
Low-calorie diets have many health benefits and can help you age in a healthier way.
“Some previous research has suggested that the effectiveness of these diets may differ between men and women, but our study is the first to show that these sex differences largely disappear when dieting begins in old age.”
Researchers looked at 42 people ages 21 to 61 who were overweight or obese and answered a newspaper ad for a weight loss study.
They ate three meals a day, but were told to cut their calories by about 30 percent on average over four weeks.
Men consumed an average of 1,600 calories per day, while women consumed an average of 1,300 calories per day.
When researchers analyzed the results of this previous study, they found that men at all ages were able to lose more weight through dieting than women.
But on the essential measure of fat burning, it was only younger men who outperformed women.
Over the four weeks, men under 45 lost more than 16 percent of their body fat, while women in the same age group lost half as much — just 8 percent.
But when men and women over age 45 were looked at separately, both lost an average of 10 percent of their body fat.
The researchers plan to do more work to understand why, but believe men may get worse at burning belly fat with age, which may partially explain the predominance of beer bellies.
Meanwhile, women whose estrogen levels typically drop after age 45 may lose more fat if it’s not necessary to support a potential pregnancy.
The study is published in the journal eLife.
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 servings of different fruits and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count
• Basic meals based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole grains
• 30 grams of fiber per day: This is equivalent to eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat muesli biscuits, 2 thick slices of whole-wheat bread, and a large baked potato with skin
• Provide dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks) and choose lower-fat, lower-sugar options
• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 servings of fish per week, one of which is fatty)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume in small quantities
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water per day
• Adults should have less than 6 g of salt and 20 g of saturated fat for women or 30 g for men per day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide