WHEN it comes to the physical make-up of men versus women, many differences are obvious. Men, on average, are 10–15% larger than women, weigh 20% more, and are 30% stronger (especially when considering upper body strength).Testosterone is one of the major hormones active in men’s bodies. Testosterone stimulates muscle enlargement and bone growth and also raises the level of red blood cells in a man’s blood stream. Men also produce more HGH (human growth hormone).What you may not know, however, is that all of these factors combine to make oxygen much more available to a man’s cells than a woman’s cells. That means a man could be working at 50% of his capacity during physical activity, but a woman would need to work at 70% of her capacity to keep up. It’s not as easy for her cells to absorb oxygen. This is due partly because women have a smaller percentage of lean tissue (muscle, organs, etc.) and a much higher percentage of body fat. Though this is detrimental in a short sprint, a higher percentage of fat means that women can power their cells longer from their body’s reserves without stopping to eat or drink in order to refuel. This may translate into greater endurance. Studies comparing men and women in running, swimming, and speed skating have shown that the differences in time versus distance decreased between men and women as the length of the event progressed. Hundreds of studies have showed some interesting differences between men and women in nearly every area. Looking through the research, you would discover all kinds of facts such as how much more likely women are to wear a seatbelt than men (two times more likely), to how often they are the sexual initiators in a monogamous relationship (65% of the time). As interesting as those facts may be, let’s concentrate on the differences between men and women that affect women’s physical fitness. These differences are primarily found in the functioning of a woman’s hormones and the construction and function of her fat cells. These two factors influence everything from the way a woman’s metabolism functions to how likely she is to suffer from stubborn fat and other health-related diseases such as osteoporosis
Two Types of Enzymes That Affect Fat Storage
Although the construction of male and female fat cells is basically the same, they differ vastly when it comes to size and function. To begin with, women’s fat cells are five times larger
than men’s! In addition, not only are women’s cells capable of holding more fat, they are genetically programmed to do so. It all comes down to enzymes: ?
Even though these enzymes are present in both men and women, women’s bodies have two times the number of lipogenic (fat-storing) enzymes, and only half the number of lipolytic (fatreleasing) enzymes. This is the genetic legacy of women’s role as the childbearing gender of the species. Nature wanted to ensure that women carried enough fat cells to nurture their growing
babies and to breast-feed them after they were born. A baby inutero requires the mother to burn at least 300 extra calories a day, and breast-feeding can require as much as 500 extra calories.
In addition to supplying the normal caloric needs of a baby, our foremothers also stored extra body fat in case of drought or famine. This extra fat was stored in the hips, thighs, and buttocks. Therefore, the females who survived famine and drought to pass down their genes were the women whose bodies were adept at storing fat. Skinny thighs in the past were a serious liability, serving only to increase the risk of death when food supplies became scarce. These enzymes tend to be balanced in a healthy person. Too much of either type develops an unbalanced system and leads to insulin resistance, a prime contributor to stubborn fat.
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