23 January 2006

Male weight loss considered

Most men have certain physiological advantages that not only 'protect' them against gaining weight, but that can also be roped in to help them lose it. DietDoc explains.

Most men have the following physiological advantages that not only 'protect' them against gaining weight, but that can also be roped in to help them lose it:
  • Higher basic metabolic rate (BMR)
  • Lower body fat and higher lean muscle percentages
  • Higher maximum oxygen consumption or VO2
  • Testosterone, which acts as an anabolic agent to promote an increase in muscle mass

a) Higher BMR
Men can use these advantages when they need or want to lose weight. Their higher BMR means that they can use a higher energy intake than women when they go on a slimming diet.

Generally speaking, adult men require approximately 2900 cal or 12200 kJ per day to maintain their normal weight. To lose weight, the general consensus is that an individual needs to reduce his energy intake by 500 cal or 2100 kJ a day.

Thus the average overweight man should cut his energy intake to 2400 cal or 10100 kJ a day. This means that a man on an energy-reduced diet is able to eat nearly 900 cal or 3800 kJ a day more than the average woman.

This higher energy intake will stave off hunger pangs and prevent cravings that often defeat attempts at dieting.

b) Lower body fat and higher lean muscle percentages
Even overweight men will have a higher percentage of lean muscle tissue in their bodies than overweight women of the same age and height.

Lean muscle tissue can therefore be stimulated by exercise to burn energy and promote the weight loss process. Exercise is one of the most potent metabolic stimulants available to reduce body fat content.

Men can achieve greater losses by getting active than women, so if you only have a small amount of weight to lose, start exercising on a daily basis.

c) Higher maximum oxygen consumption or VO2
Because men have a much larger maximum oxygen consumption, they are able to burn more fat at each exercise session than women. Utilise this advantage by doing exercises like running, jogging, speed walking, spinning, rowing, cycling or swimming.

d) Testosterone
This anabolic steroid helps to build lean muscle tissue and promotes weight loss, provided men reduce their energy intake and do regular exercise.

How to lose weight
In contrast to women, men who need to lose weight can usually lose more weight at a faster rate and they have more options at their disposal.

The following strategies should produce results:

1) Stop or cut down on drinking alcohol/sweetened beverages
Go on the water wagon or reduce your alcohol intake to one drink every second day and the kilograms will drop off.

If you are addicted to sweetened cold drinks, cut these out and drink non-calorific beverages like soda water, sparkling or still water, or artificially sweetened cold drinks.

Recent research has indicated that the consumption of sugar in liquid form tends to promote weight gain.

2) Reduce your energy intake
Either reduce the portions you eat (i.e. have a 200 g steak instead of a 500 g steak) or cut down drastically on fat intake.

If you explore this Weight Loss Section further, you will find details on how to reduce fat intake. You will also find an example of a healthy slimming diet and tips on low-fat eating.

3) Increase your energy expenditure
As mentioned above, the male body is geared towards building lean muscle tissue – provided you do regular exercise.

Stick to fat-burning exercises if possible. Men like to work out with weights and build large muscles when they train, but such exercises will not burn fat as effectively as the so-called 'cardio workouts'.

Until you have lost a sufficient amount of weight, concentrate on exercises that will burn fat. There will be time to build muscle and firm up once you have lost weight.

4) Metabolic syndrome
The number of men suffering from metabolic syndrome is rising. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions including raised blood glucose and insulin levels, insulin resistance, increased blood lipid or fat levels, high blood pressure, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Scientists believe that metabolic syndrome is triggered by derangements in insulin metabolism, among other factors.

If you suffer from metabolic syndrome, it is important that you lose weight (this can clear up or improve many of the symptoms such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes).

The recommended diet for individuals with metabolic syndrome is one with a low glycaemic index (GI). Anyone with metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes should consult a clinical dietician to assist you with a low GI diet.

The dietician will explain how the diet works and what foods you need to include so that your insulin levels can normalise. In addition, it is recommended that anyone with metabolic syndrome should start doing exercise.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you need to check with your doctor and obtain permission to do exercise. Ask the doctor what type and intensity of exercise you are allowed to do. Don't start off with a two-hour session of sit-ups as this could be very dangerous.

If you are overweight or suffer from obesity, you need to do something about your health. Start now and you will be feeling 100% healthier and more mobile within a few short months. – (Dr Ingrid van Heerden, DietDoc)

Any questions? Ask DietDoc


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