4 Challenges Women Face When Trying to Lose Weight

Mar 22, 2024
4 Challenges Women Face When Trying to Lose Weight
If you’re a woman, and you’ve struggled to lose weight, you know there are barriers—but maybe you don’t know exactly what they are. Four specific challenges can make it difficult for women to lose weight.

There are more people in the United States who are overweight or obese than not, and sometimes, women face specific challenges when it comes to losing weight. Weight loss isn’t always about simply eating less and moving more; and there are other factors to consider. 

At Northeast Florida Internal Medicine, Elyssa Blissenbach, MD, and Lea-Anne Griffis, APRN, help both men and women learn what’s necessary to lose weight. At that time, they found that it could be helpful when women understood the challenges clearly. Our weight loss management services can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. 

Here are the four sometimes hidden barriers that often impact women’s weight loss. 

1. Muscle vs fat 

Even very fit women tend to have more body fat and less muscle than men. Depending on age, a healthy body fat percentage for women is between 21 and 35%. For men, that range is from 11% to 24%. 

Part of the reason for the difference is that men have more muscle mass than women, and muscle requires more calories than women. Women also begin to lose muscle mass around 30; with each passing decade, you can expect to have 3-5% less muscle than before. 

The steady loss of muscle mass can make losing weight more difficult as women age. The solution to this challenge is to focus on building more muscle through resistance training and eating a sufficient amount of protein. 

2. Pregnancy

Although not every woman goes through pregnancy, if you do, it can have a serious impact on your weight. It’s a natural part of pregnancy to gain more weight and body fat. Following the birth of a baby, women may find it difficult to fit in important weight loss activities such as exercise and sleep.

Breastfeeding can help you return to a healthy weight and prioritize healthy foods, exercise, and quality sleep whenever possible. 

3. Perimenopause and menopause

As you approach menopause, the period of time called perimenopause, your body produces less estrogen. Your metabolism may also slow down, as well.

Hormone fluctuations combined with the other changes that come with menopause can lead to weight gain. Unfortunately, the medications that can help improve your symptoms may also promote weight gain.

Paying extra attention to your exercise routine and food choices can help you avoid menopause weight gain. A combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training is recommended. Lowering your daily caloric intake by about 200 calories to maintain your weight during your 50s could be helpful; you may need an even greater decrease to lose weight. 

4. Polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects the balance of your hormones. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 6-12% of women in the United States have PCOS. 

PCOS can cause insulin resistance, which leads to weight gain and may lead to diabetes. Along with weight gain and a higher risk of diabetes, PCOS is associated with a greater risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and sleep apnea.

Working closely with a healthcare provider to find the best diet for you and regular physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight even if you have PCOS. 

Get personalized advice

If you’re struggling to lose weight, schedule an appointment at Northeast Florida Internal Medicine. Understanding exactly why you’re struggling can be the key to finding the right solution for your individual situation.