The Guys' Guide to Dieting

Is Weight Loss Different for Men?

By Leanna Skarnulis
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson, MD

A weight-loss expert gets a phone call from a friend: "I just made a $50 bet to lose 20 pounds in a month. Tell me how to do it." Guess the caller's sex.

"I get these calls from friends and relatives," says Gary D. Foster, PhD, clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "These types of calls are always from men."

That's probably what you'd guess, but you'd be hard-pressed to find research supporting that or any other assumption about how men and women differ when it comes to dieting, Foster says. "Most of the weight-loss research is about women," he says. "There are probably fewer than 10 good studies that separate men and women, and what they address is that men lose more weight and lose it faster."

Still, he and others in the field have run across some anecdotal differences in the two sexes' approach to weight loss. One, Foster says, is that men typically tend to be less process-oriented than women.

"Men don't want the fluff. 'Don't give me all the reasons I'm overweight. I just want to lose weight, not talk about it.' And they don't want to talk about maintenance. They'll deal with that later. Women stereotypically spend more time talking about how they got where they are and about things like emotional eating."

Is It Easier for Men?