There are plenty of differences between women and men but a considerably noticeable one is
the way their body is shaped. Women’s bodies are always associated with curves and men with muscles. Representation of women in popular culture has created the notion of the ‘perfect figure’; we have all heard the phrase ‘36-24-36’, just like an hourglass. Because of this mental imagery, many women who don’t conform to this depiction question their body type and always try to constantly fit in to the ‘norm’. Many try different workouts for arms, thighs and butt and some also diet themselves to the point of starvation.
How can women accept their bodies when they don’t even understand them? Add to this, when compared to their male counterparts, women have a tendency to hold on to fat differently as well. Ask a woman about her ‘problem areas’ and she can probably write a book on them. The need to hide these flaws or more seriously to ‘fix’ them has given rise to and sustained many industries, from cosmetology, liposuction to Botox.
What if someone told you that where and how you store fat depends on some biological factors, that your ‘problem areas’ are there for a reason. The fact is that bodies are different and no one ‘figure’ or ‘shape’ is perfect. However; there is research around the fat storage patterns in men vs women.
Have you ever observed that many men tend to hold fat in their mid-section (known as visceral fat) whereas women have a tendency to accumulate fat around hips and thighs? INFS Faculty & FITTR Coach Aditya Mahajan confirms that women’s physiology causes fat to build up at certain ‘fat storage sites’ which in turn, makes it difficult for them to lose fat in those areas. This is possibly why those workout programs targeting these areas are so popular! The misconception that certain exercises can help cut fat at one particular spot causes women to lose their sleep over finding that ‘magic’ workout. Not that women struggling with losing fat need any validation of how difficult the journey is but we hope that being aware will help set some realistic goals!
The difference in the body storage between men and women can be attributed to the difference in their hormones. Men have higher testosterone and cortisol levels whereas women have high levels of estrogen and progesterone. Higher testosterone levels tend to promote visceral fat accumulation whereas higher estrogen level promotes higher subcutaneous fat deposits. Subcutaneous fat is the layer of fat just underneath your skin. You can feel it when you pinch your skin. Visceral fat is the fat stored around your abdominal cavity covering your organs. Because men hold on to fat in the mid-section, their body shape is compared to that of an apple and women’s bodies are often called pear-shaped due to fat retention in their thighs and hips.
WHAT CAUSES THIS DIFFERENCE?
The higher fat stores in women’s bodies are to prepare for pregnancy – to support their bodies through the stages of gestation up to the lactation stage. The other possible reason contributing to this relates to evolution. Some scientists postulate that this particular body fat distribution pattern is more prominent due to the primal processes of sexual selection and attraction.
HOW CAN THE PEAR-SHAPED BODY LOSE FAT?
Exercise and training have shown results when it comes to fat loss in the pear-shaped body.
Training is beneficial in improving the blood flow to the fat cells. Fasting has also been known to improve flood and fat oxidation in women. However; fasting may not suit everyone’s lifestyle and so, as an alternate, a low carbohydrate diet (<100 gm) may be more suitable since it has been found to mimic many effects of fasting.
- Most women have more subcutaneous fat in their hips and thighs. However; this is not
nature’s thumb rule. In certain cases, a woman’s fat distribution pattern can be similar
to that of men.
- Genetics and ethnicity also play a major role in determining the fat storage patterns. You might have noticed how women from Hispanic countries are envied for their voluptuous figures.
- Though women tend to lose fat slower than men, a low body fat percentage (18-20%) is
absolutely attainable through right nutrition and training.
About the Author : A psychologist by education and a fitness enthusiast by choice, Saakshi dreams to combine these worlds. Content writing and social media management is a passion that keeps her in the constant learner mode.
This is taken from Women’s Series book.
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