Men and women have to deal with different issues when it comes to many aspects of their body and weight loss is no exception.
This is because the hormonal environment is different from man to woman. For starters testosterone and estrogen are dramatically different from man to woman and even more specific to weight loss leptin levels are also different.
Leptin plays a vital role in the control of appetite; metabolism and the signals involved in weight gain and weight loss. Leptin levels rise when you eat and fall when you’re not eating. This helps control your sense of hunger and your metabolic rate to keep you from gaining or losing weight. As long as they don’t rise too high or fall too low you’ll remain weight stable and feel fine.
When attempting to diet ‘hard’ leptin levels can fall too far too fast and you will find it very difficult to lose weight. In fact you can eventually crash and experience big rebound weight gain.
This is dramatic rise and fall of leptin could very well be what is causing so many restrictive diets to fail and so many people to gain all the weight back and then some!
This effect seems to be worse in women than in men and it’s because women have higher leptin levels to start with that drop far lower than a mans when they diet.
In other words, when it comes to leptin levels and dieting, women have higher ‘highs’ and lower ‘lows’. It’s these dramatic swings in leptin that can lead to the crash and rebound weight gain that so many women experience on standard restrictive diets.
In contrast a man’s leptin levels rise and fall very predictably and within a relative small range. The high’s aren’t too high and the low’s aren’t too low, and as a result men can follow a pretty mundane, straight forward calorie restrictive diet and make it through to the end without a major crash or rebound and essentially lose all the weight they want.
This explains why men seem to have an easier time losing weight than women. Or to say it another way, weight loss for men is pretty straightforward and doesn’t require much creativity when it comes to the diet.
Women on the other hand experience dramatic swings in leptin that require a more intelligently designed diet to minimize these big swings in leptin levels. One of the techniques that has become popular is the idea of adding in a ‘cheat’ day. This is a day during your diet program where you’re instructed to eat more food and more carbs specifically to attempt to bring your leptin levels back up after days and days of dieting and lowering your leptin levels. Knowing that leptin drops farther and faster in women it stands to reason that the ‘cheat day’ is a more useful tool for women as well. But the concept of ‘cheating’ seems a bit problematic to me and needs some adjustments’.
I don’t like the word ‘cheat’ as it implies you’re doing something wrong, and it also implies that you should be going ‘all out’ on junk food and whatever else you can get your hands on. This leaves the door open to really overdoing that day.
I would rather call it a strategic ‘eat-up’ day.
Women need these strategic “eat-up” days throughout their weight loss program to prevent their leptin levels from crashing and rebound weight gain from happening. And they need these days more often than men.
For example a man could probably make it two or even three weeks eating very low calories and minimal carbs without having a serious crash in leptin levels and thus no major consequences to their weight loss progress.
Women on the other hand need a to add in these ‘eat up’ days weekly to keep leptin levels consistent and keep the fat burning going.
To say it another way, we’re really talking about is hitting the sweet spot between just enough ‘diet days’ combined with just enough ‘eat up’ days.
As a woman once you hit this sweet spot the fat will come off faster than you think and the process itself will be much more enjoyable because you get to take periodic breaks from the diet.
That sounds like a win-win scenario to me!