Why Women Gain Weight Faster Than Men?

Medically reviewed by Shanmukha PriyaM.Phil and Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition

Women gain weight fast! Well, at least, faster than men and that’s fairly acknowledged by both women and science, the latter source being more deplorable.

With all honesty, one has to admit that it doesn’t seem fair at all.

God! Gender inequality at a biological level. Who do we blame for it?

Scientists at the University of Missouri conducted a small analysis where they enrolled obese men and women on the same fitness regime. I’m sure you can guess the results by now.


Yes, men showed significantly more benefits than women. So what is it about us women that make us so prone to weight gain?

Damn you Leptin!

Well, among other reasons, it’s important that you identify this culprit first. Still wondering what’s Leptin?

Weight loss in both men and women is ruled by ‘Leptin’- a  master hormone that is produced by the adipose(fat) tissues. Leptin is the sentinel of fat metabolism that regulates the entire fat and energy utilisation mechanism.

Ah, let’s do away with the jargon–simply put, leptin regulates the amount of fat stored in the body.

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An increase in leptin level in our body signals our brain to stop eating and vice-versa.

Why do we women gain weight in a snap?

weight gain in women

There are two major reasons that explain weight gain in women.

Women show ‘leptin resistance’

Women have twice the level of leptin as compared to men and that makes us 3 times less responsive towards leptin.

 This makes us vulnerable to obesity as it slows down the metabolism and increases the appetite.  It indeed is a ‘cruel leptin trick’ that flips women to the fatter side.  

“Jargon Buster: In leptin resistance, if you’re fat, naturally your leptin is high but your brain can’t see it. So your body might be obese but your brain thinks that it’s starving.”

What triggers the insensitivity?

  • Consuming simple carbohydrates like sugar and white rice.
  • High Stress levels
  • Lack of sleep
  • Overeating
  • High insulin levels
  • Exercising too much, especially you have hormonal issues

‘Diet effects’ in women

Dieting and starving causes sudden drop in the leptin level, and the rate is faster in women than in men. The seepage of leptin reduces metabolic hits and thus, ends up in fat storage.

The leptin issue in pregnant women is far worse and that’s why, post-pregnancy weight loss is painstakingly difficult.

But don’t be disheartened ladies,  you can turn the table when it comes to beauty.

How to reset the leptin level in your body to favour weight loss?

Yes, by stimulating leptin, we can tap into the high metabolism zone.

A good leptin level satiates your cravings and powers your metabolism. Here are the thumb rules;

Set your body to workout mode

Exercises like aerobics, weight-training, and high-intensity training can initiate the leptin response and burn fat.

The fat cells that are burnt during these workouts release leptin.

Moreover, these exercises also activate the leptin receptors.

women strength training

Eat leptin glorified foods

Foods with anti-inflammatory property and that rich in omega 3 fatty acids can do wonders to set the optimal leptin level.

Foods for Leptin

Sources: Carrots, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, winter squash, papaya, blueberries, cherries, pomegranate, citrus fruits, green tea, onions, dark chocolate, fish, green and leafy vegetables, nuts and beans.

Be a sleeping beauty

Sleep well to stimulate the leptin level

According to the scientific study, people who spent sleepless nights had leptin levels 15% lower than people who had good sleeping habits.

And also, not sleeping means late night munchies, which messes around with your energy homeostasis.

A minimum of 7 ½ hrs of sleep  is adequate for adults in average.

Stay glossy with water

Hydration for leptin improvement

Good hydration not only improves digestion, mood swings, and control hunger but also, prepares your body to absorb vitamins and nutrients.

Lack of water intake can  inhibit your sensitivity to leptin and increase your resistance to it.

Drink at least eight to ten cups of water i.e. 64 to 80 ounces, regularly.

Stay off smokes and alcohol

Smoking and drinking causes imbalance in leptin level

If you have been smoking and over drinking, you should know that it restricts the leptin secretion. Additionally, drinking can lead to eating more than your satiating points, which once again affects leptin stimulation.


1.How to Stimulate a Leptin Response in Your Body- wikiHow
2.Cravings? Fix Your Leptin!-Wellness Mama
3.Women have to work HARDER than men to lose weight and get fit-Mail online

Also read: Exercise Vs Diet For Weight Loss

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4 thoughts on “Why Women Gain Weight Faster Than Men?

  1. Soma Das says:

    Hi, this was really helpful. I’ve been trying to burn fat for the last 5 years with exercise and diet, but find it extremely difficult as my body goes quickly back to the old weight once these regimens stop. Had I known about my brain’s predisposition, I would have been more aware and done things differently.

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