Do women have more body fat than men? As a matter of fact, yes, they do. It all comes down to hormones and our biological make-up. The connection is drawn between one vital hormone – estrogen.
How Is Body Fat Stored
Body fat is stored in the form of triglycerides in fat cells called adipocytes. Triglycerides can also be stored as droplets within skeletal muscle cells. A healthy body fat range for women, is between 20-25%, while a healthy body fat for men, is 10-15%.
Why Do Women Have More Body Fat Than Men?
On average women have 6-11% more body fat than men. Women naturally have higher oestrogen levels, to aid in the childbearing process. Oestrogen reduces and slow a woman’s metabolism and energy expenditure, attributing to more total body fat. Time of increased oestrogen could be seen as states of efficient fat storage in preparation for fertility, fetal development, and lactation.
However, from an energy point of view, women should not hold more body fat and weight than men, particularly since men have a greater average caloric intake than women. Women tend to burn more calories than men when they exercise, yet don’t lose as much body fat, suggesting that they are far more efficient at storing body fat.
Women store more body fat than men, in their hips and thighs. This pattern known as the traditional ‘female’ fat distribution, independent of total body fat, confers protection against metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis [R].
There are significant differences between men and women, and how their fat is distributed. Males see a larger influx of lean muscle mass during puberty, while females, will see an increase in fat mass. Menopause is yet another time where fat is redistributed. Visceral fat rises in women during the peri-menopausal transition, presumably due to the fall in estrogen levels [R]. In men as testosterone declines visceral adiposity also increases in men [R].
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Studies show that premenopausal women, compared to age-matched men, have better lipid profiles: higher high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol levels and lower low density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, very low density lipoprotein (VLDL)-cholesterol and total triglyceride levels [R].
Do Women Have More Body Fat Than Men: Takeaway
On average women do carry 6-11% more body fat than men, due to the biological differences. Women are more efficient at storing body fat, yet burn more body fat when exercising. Estrogen and testosterone both, have a large impact on the ability to burn and redistribute body fat. Thus, in addition to a healthy nutrition plan and training program, optimizing hormonal levels especially as you age, is significantly important to overall body composition.
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