Men lose "significantly" more weight than women on low-cal diets, study finds

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Men lose more weight than women in 8-week trial ©iStock/Nensuria
Men lose more weight than women in 8-week trial ©iStock/Nensuria
A new study has concluded that men and women experience different benefits from consuming a low calorie diet, with men likely to lose a “significant” amount more weight.

The research, published in scientific journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism​, tracked health markers for more than 2,000 overweight individuals with pre-diabetes who followed a low-calorie diet for eight weeks.

In total, 2224 individuals (1504 women, 720 men) attended the baseline visit and 2020, or 90.8%, completed the follow‐up visit having followed a low calorie diet plan.

The researchers found men lost "significantly​" more body weight than women, had larger reductions in a metabolic syndrome score, a diabetes indicator, fat mass, and heart rate. Weight loss was 16% greater in men than in women, at 11.8% and 10.3% respectively.

On the other hand, women had larger reductions in HDL-cholesterol, hip circumference, lean body mass (or fat free mass), and pulse pressure than men.

These findings are clinically important and suggest gender‐specific changes after weight loss, the researchers noted.

“Despite adjusting for the differences in weight loss, it appears that men benefitted more from the intervention than women. Whether differences between genders persist in the long-term and whether we will need to design different interventions depending on gender will be interesting to follow,”​ said lead author Dr. Pia Christensen, of the University of Copenhagen, in Denmark.

“However, the eight-week low-energy diet in individuals with pre-diabetes did result in the initial 10% weight loss needed to achieve major metabolic improvement in the first phase of a diabetes prevention programme,”​ Dr. Christensen added.

The results suggest “intrinsic differences​” in how men and women adapt to dietary energy deficits.

Previous research has pointed to differences in metabolic outcome according to gender occur because men mobilise more intra‐abdominal fat than women during weight loss, and that this is accompanied by a more pronounced improvement in the metabolic risk profile.

The international study was carried out by universities across Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Study sites were University of Copenhagen, Denmark; University of Helsinki, Finland; University of Nottingham, UK; University of Maastricht, The Netherlands; University of Navarra, Spain; Medical University of Sofia, Bulgaria; University of Auckland, New Zealand and University of Sydney, Australia.

Source: Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism

Published online ahead of print: DOI: 10.1111/dom.13466

‘Men and women respond differently to rapid weight loss: Metabolic outcomes of a multi‐centre intervention study after a low‐energy diet in 2500 overweight, individuals with pre‐diabetes’

Authors: Pia Christensen, Thomas Meinert Larsen, Margriet Westerterp‐Plantenga, Ian Macdonald, J. Alfredo Martinez, Svetoslav Handjiev, et al

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