What’s Healthy? After testing thousands of men and women in our clinic, we realized that men and women carry practically the same amount of fat. Most of us have around twenty five pounds of fat if we’re healthy and forty or fifty pounds if we’re average.
It doesn’t matter whether we’re male or female. The pounds of fat we carry are about the same. But let’s not talk about fat anymore. Let’s drop the fat talk and instead talk about what’s left, the lean part of our bodies.
Now we see a big difference between men and women. Men have anywhere from twenty to forty more pounds of lean body mass, mainly muscle and bone, than women. And it’s the amount of lean we have, not the amount of fat, that determines how easily we gain or lose weight.
It doesn’t seem fair, but because women have considerably less lean than men, they not only gain weight more easily but it’s also more difficult for them to lose the weight they gain. When I talk about “lean” I am thinking mostly about muscle, because that’s the part that can be changed.
Technically, lean body mass includes bones and other soft tissue, but those parts don’t have high metabolisms and can’t be changed very easily. Muscle, on the other hand, can be increased or decreased and can be trained to burn fat.
The muscle on your body is similar to the engine in your car. It’s the part of your body that uses the most calories. Your hair doesn’t need calories, your fingernails don’t need calories. Just picture a woman with long beautiful hair saying, “Oh I must eat more because I have such long hair!”
Similarly, you don’t need to send calories to your fat. Fat IS calories. Muscle, the underlying engine, burns most of the calories you eat. Because men’s engines are considerably bigger than women’s, they can eat more without gaining weight.
And, if they do gain weight, their bigger engines burn off the excess fat more readily than a woman’s smaller engine. While it’s fun to talk about how much fat we have, the significant number is how much lean do we have? To find out, however, we have to talk about fat again. We have to first determine how many pounds of fat we have.