I have spent a lifetime on every diet under the sun—from counting calories to cutting carbs. Sometimes I’m successful and other times, not so much. Cue my husband. When he entered the picture, neither of us were very motivated to hit the gym, let alone break our raging Seamless delivery habit. And then he decided to participate in what would be the first of many obstacle races, while I aimed to shed some pounds for our upcoming wedding. He was focused and dedicated to everything from regularly working out to really changing his diet for the better. It was like he thought about wanting to lose weight and get in shape—and voilà! He was buff and trim so quickly it felt overnight. I, however, would lose a few pounds, get discouraged that the scale seemed “stuck,” and go off the deep end with some pizza to drown my sorrows.
Unfortunately, this is a common conversation I have with my friends; they’re struggling to lose weight and it “just happens” for the men in their lives as soon as the guys feel like it. But guess what? We aren’t making this up—men really do, thanks to genetics, have an easier time losing weight than women. “Unfortunately, for us women, we generally carry more body fat than men—on average between six and eleven percent more,” explains Monika Paez, fitness model, instructor, and nutritionist. “Men also have more muscles, which allow them to burn more calories.” And according to a 2014 study in England, guys have an edge because of their testosterone and lack of estrogen.
Kicking that science-y stuff aside, there are still some tricks we can learn from men to drop the weight a little more quickly—and safely. And to identify some habits holding you back, don’t miss these 30 Flat-Belly Mistakes That Women Make!
Men Cut the “Emotional” Fat
Yes, it’s a stereotypical image: A woman comforting herself after a disappointing day or bad break-up by eating an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting. But it’s rarely what you envision when it comes to men and their coping mechanisms. “Men don’t get weighted down with emotional fat. They have a greater ability to let drama and negativity go at the end of the day,” explains Leanne Jacobs, certified pilates and yoga instructor, clinical nutritionist, and creator of the Beautiful Money podcast. “Women tend to hang onto emotional drama longer—and it manifests into physical weight.” So, next time you feel upset and overwhelmed, keep the ice cream in the freezer and phone a friend to vent, try to meditate, take a walk—anything to distract your mind and let go of the emotion. And speaking of pints of ice cream, don’t miss our exclusive ranking of Every Ben & Jerry’s Flavor—Ranked By Nutrition!
Men Don’t Buy Into Society’s High Standards of Body Image
For women, it seems as though every extra pound is scrutinized and there are unattainable and unreasonable standards of beauty everywhere we look. Obsessing over our looks and wanting to meet the high expectations often sets us up for failure, too. “Although body image impacts both sexes, men are still less consumed by societal beliefs such as ”younger is better’ and ‘thin is in,’” says Jacobs. “They have a heightened ability to confidently move into action. So, just tune out the noise about what would be ideal and keep your eyes on your own plate—and mirror!
Men Don’t Beat Themselves Up Over a Carb
“Men aren’t as hard on themselves if they indulge in some carbs,” Jacobs says. “They would prefer to make up for the indulgence with a great workout rather than a self-sabotaging emotional self-attack.” This is pretty much the complete opposite of what so many women do after they—gasp!—eat some potato chips. What do men do? According to Jacobs, they certainly don’t eat their feelings. “They let go and move on.”
Men Don’t Obsess About Chocolate
If you’re married to a man who loves chocolate and keeps it in the house as much for him as you, congratulations on securing that keeper! But seriously, women really do seem to have killer cravings for chocolate whereas men can actually turn it down and not look back. Maybe it’s because chocolate stimulates dopamine production—the same stuff responsible for the euphoric feelings during an orgasm. The good news is that dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) has antioxidants that are good for you. But if you want to lose weight like a man, stop being such a sucker for the chocolate cupcakes, and chocolate-covered pretzels, and chocolate candies, and and and…
Men Love Protein, Protein, and More Protein
From downing shakes filled with protein powders at the gym to eating a plateful of lean meat like chicken or flank steak, these are often staples in men’s diets that make a huge impact. “Protein powders are not just for men or for body builders. Dietary protein is essential for a variety of functions in the body for both men and women—such as metabolism, immune support, and muscle repair and growth,” explains Eileen Weinheimer-Haus, Ph.D., RD, Scientific Affairs Manager of Glanbia Performance Nutrition. “Consuming high-quality protein as part of a weight loss strategy may have several benefits. Protein generally supports satiety, may help battle feelings of hunger, and helps maintain lean muscle that helps burn calories, even as we lose weight.” To start adding more protein powder to your life, check out our exclusive report on The Best and Worst Protein Powders.
Men Are All About Resistance Training
Speaking of muscles! Many women are reluctant to lift weights, but it’s something many men do at the gym that really impacts their ability to reach their weight loss goals quickly. “When we weight train, we increase our metabolism and we also are able to continue to burn calories long after we have left the gym,” explains Dr. Kevin R. Campbell, MD, FACC at North Carolina Heart and Vascular. “Ideally, a combination of cardio and resistance training done four or five days a week will produce better results.” Check out these 55 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism to rev up the burn!
Men Are Fans of Intermittent Fasting
According to Dr. Daryl Gioffre, celebrity nutrition expert and founder of Alkamind, this trend is really popular among men—and a secret weapon for weight loss that is not as “extreme” as it sounds. “Intermittent fasting is when you restrict your eating to a specific window of time each day, but you still eat as much as you would on any given normal day,” says Dr. Gioffre. “It’s an excellent way to reboot your metabolism so that your body can start burning fat as its primary fuel source, and not sugar or carbs, which so many of us are currently burning instead.” So how does it work? Dr. Gioffre says you can select your own unique 8-hour window to eat and then you fast the remaining 16 hours. You’re in control, so, for example, your 8-hour window to eat could look like 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM or 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM— whatever time works for you.
Men Don’t Count Calories
Tracking your food is one thing, but counting calories is something you’ll notice that men don’t obsess over the way women do. “It’s not the quantity of the food that matters, but rather the quality,” says Dr. Gioffre. “Focus on this hit list to help melt off the pounds: dark green leafy vegetables high in minerals, low sugar fruits, smoothies, raw soups, green juices, healthy fats and grains, raw nuts and seeds.” In a nutshell, try these 30 Weight Loss Tips Better Than Counting Calories instead!
Men Aren’t Afraid of Eating Fat
Just like men aren’t afraid to eat without counting calories, they’re also not afraid to put fat in their diet. “Eating fat is one of the biggest misconceptions that I come across with my patients when we discuss losing weight,” Dr. Gioffre says. “There are fats that heal and fats that kill. Fat is essential for good health, and we need to incorporate more of it into our daily diets.” Researchers have hypothesized that people looking to avoid fats shifted their diet toward more processed foods, carbohydrates, and sugar—which all contribute to weight gain. Some go-to sources for good fat are plant-based omega 3-6-9 fatty acids like hemp, chia, and flax seeds, raw almond butter, and MCTs like coconut oil, coconut butter, and unsweetened coconut flakes. Add these to your smoothies every day and you’ll turn your body into a fat-burning machine. For 100+ creamy, delicious weight-loss recipes, click here for Zero Belly Smoothies!
Men Will Eat Like Cavemen
The caveman way of eating is simple: Think of your daily diet as 80/20. This means you want to eat and drink 80 percent alkaline (organic leafy greens, healthy fats, low sugar fruits, raw nuts and seeds, green drinks, smoothies, herbs, salads, healthy grains, raw soups, and minerals) and no more than 20 percent acidic (less of sugar, gluten, artificial sweeteners, trans-fats, dairy, meat, processed foods, soda, carbonated water, and coffee). “This applies to what’s on each plate as well as a whole week’s worth of meals,” explains Dr. Gioffre. “So if you have 21 meals, it’s okay to have a few meals that are more acidic a la ‘cheat meals’ because you’re going to balance it out over the course of the week with really nourishing alkaline meals.”
Men Eat Six Times a Day
Men aren’t afraid to eat—and you shouldn’t be either. In fact, eating six times a day (three meals and three snacks) can actually rev up your metabolism. “Not all calories are created equal. It is qualitative and quantitative when it comes to nutrient dense foods and snacks,” explains NY Health and Wellness Fitness Director Lisa Avellino. A snack she suggests to cut hunger and cravings between meals is mixed nuts, especially a handful of raw almonds. “They will satisfy your craving for something crunchy while helping to build muscle.”
Men Stay Hydrated
Women sip on their drinks while men will “pound” a whole bottle of water in what seems like a few seconds flat. And what does chugging a ton of water have to do with weight loss and your overall health? Simply put, dehydration slows down your metabolism and affects your body’s ability to burn fat. When your metabolism slows, your body has a harder time getting rid of toxins, and this leads to excess fat storage. “It’s a fact that 90 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated,” says Dr. Gioffre. “But the good news is this is an easy fix. Aim to drink three or four liters of filtered, alkaline water every day with an ideal pH of 9.5. You can make your water more alkaline by adding a lemon or lime slice.” (We call that detox water at Eat This, Not That!)
Men Work Out in the Morning
Truth be told, women are often needed at home in the morning to get the kids to school or to make sure everyone has what they need for the day. “Women are caretakers by nature and tend to put others first, sometimes delaying our workouts until after work,” says Dempsey Marks, who is a fitness expert, yoga instructor, and founder of DempseyFit.com. If you see men at the gym first thing, it’s because they’re making working out a priority—and there are so many important benefits. “Morning workouts kick start your metabolism and help you burn more calories throughout the day,” says Marks. ” Plus you won’t get stuck at the office and miss your fitness!”
Men Don’t Eat Out All the Time
No, we’re not saying that men never eat out—surely you’ve seen them packing away their fair share at an all-you-can-eat buffet or probably eating too fast at a fancy restaurant. But women are more apt to go out to lunch with the girls or eat while on the go. According to April Buchwald, a Miami-based fitness expert and personal trainer, the trick is to plan your meals. “This means shopping in advance with specific meals in mind and it means preparing food so that you don’t find yourself in a compromised position when hunger strikes,” she explains. “It’s simple and it works well when you keep eating out to a minimum. I’m not suggesting never to eat out of your home. My suggestion is to keep eating out to a minimum. Eating at home ensures you know exactly what you’re consuming.” Before your next meal out, you should also check out The #1 Healthiest Menu Option at 40 Popular Restaurants for your best pick at the place you’re going!
Men Will Spice It Up
Eat like a man and don’t fear spicy food,” says Avellino. “Add garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, and hot sauce for all their benefits.” And if you aren’t quite there yet in your palette, try adding chia seeds (super high in omega-3s and fiber) to your favorite dish for similar benefits. “Chia’s hormonal benefits include stabilizing blood sugar, improved insulin sensitivity, and easing metabolic syndrome symptoms like blood pressure and blood sugar spikes,” she says.
Men Eat a Hearty Breakfast
No more processed cereal, Frappuccino sugary coffee drinks, nor any of these other breakfast foods you should give up! You want some protein and fat—two things men will eat without abandon in the morning. Avellino says that scrambled eggs and an avocado will keep you fuller for much longer than carbs (which just spike your insulin levels and actually make you feel hungrier)!
Men Focus on What They Can Eat
Does this sound familiar? Every time you (or a woman you know) goes on a diet, you go into mourning over all the food you must give up? Yeah, stop doing that. “When men are looking to shred and build muscle, they are very focused on what they can eat versus most women dieters who focus on what they can’t eat,” says Avellino. ” Try the man’s crowd-it-out method. Just understand that foods like pasta, white bread, and potatoes make you fat. If you must have pasta, make yours a lentil grain pasta. Swap white potatoes for sweet potatoes and try Ezekiel bread as a smart swap.” Get to know these 36 Swaps and Tips for Weight Loss and watch the pounds melt off—finally!