Life is Unfair to Women

18 overweight men and women walked on treadmills in multiple sessions while either eating enough that day to replace the calories burned during exercise or not. Afterward, the men displayed little or no changes in their energy-regulating hormones or their appetites, much as in the other study. But the women uniformly had increased blood concentrations of acylated ghrelin and decreased concentrations of insulin after the sessions in which they had eaten less than they had burned. Their bodies were directing them to replace the lost calories.

In physiological terms, the results “are consistent with the paradigm that mechanisms to maintain body fat are more effective in women,” Braun and his colleagues wrote. In practical terms, the results are scientific proof that life is unfair. Female bodies, inspired almost certainly “by a biological need to maintain energy stores for reproduction,” Braun says, fight hard to hold on to every ounce of fat. Exercise for many women (and for some men) increases the desire to eat.

Full article on exercise’s role in weight loss.

Comments (6)

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  1. Virginia says:

    I wonder what the mortality rates are during times of famine between men and women. This seems like a really good adaptation if you’re worried you might not see your next meal.

  2. Linda Gorman says:

    But I thought that we all knew that the supposed differences between men and women were just a social construct?

  3. Devon Herrick says:

    In women the natural proportion of bodyweight made of fat is around 25%, compared to 15% for men. I assume that’s an adaptation to maintain energy for reproduction. So it’s not inconceivable, then, that part of the adaptation also makes womens’ physiology want hold on to every ounce.

  4. Joe S. says:

    This is probably a politically incorrect observation.

  5. Marte says:

    As a woman who is sick of hearing “Why don’t you eat more, you’re too skinny,” I can’t identify with the problem.

    But I’ll have to agree – when I get more exercise than normal, it is easier to eat more.

  6. Bart Ingles says:

    I wonder how much this has to do with prior adaptation to exercise, rather than sex.