Therefore, men (and women) who are “apple” shapes will have an easier time losing fat—especially in the beginning. The bad news is that their greater proportion of visceral fat (big, firm, beer belly) puts them at a much higher risk of obesity-related diseases than people who are “pear” shapes and who store more subcutaneous fat (soft love handles, spare tires, or rolls of belly or back fat).
This does NOT mean that it's impossible to lose subcutaneous or peripheral fat. If you maintain a caloric deficit, your body will burn fat from wherever you have it stored. In general, most people lose fat deposits in a "first on, last off" pattern. Those pesky problem spots will most likely be problem spots to the bitter end, unfortunately. And weight loss is not likely to change your basic body shape—just your size.
Fitness and Performance
FACT: Although women naturally carry additional body fat, it does not impair fitness, performance, or health. In fact, women who reduce their body fat below 12% may experience loss of menstruation, bone density problems, and an increased risk for breast and endometrial cancers, as well as other problems associated with poor nutrition.
Gender differences in muscle size, speed, and strength are mainly the result of testosterone-related differences in the quantity of muscle mass. There’s no evidence of gender differences in the quality of the muscle itself. Women will respond equally well to both strength training and aerobic exercise, improving in strength, endurance, speed and efficiency.
The maximum intensity and duration women can achieve during aerobic exercise is typically 5-10% less than their male counterparts. This is because women typically have 5-10% less hemoglobin (an iron-containing protein in red blood cells that helps deliver oxygen to working muscles). Women who find themselves unable to workout as hard or as long for no apparent reason (or during that time of month) should ensure they're getting enough iron, vitamins and B vitamins. If the problem persists, get checked for iron deficiency and anemia.
Body Image & Body Satisfaction
Recent national studies involving over 11,000 high school students and 60,000 adults found the following differences in how males and females feel about their bodies:
Speaking on behalf of men everywhere who have been rejected (on aesthetic grounds) from membership to the Federation of Muscle Shirt Wearers, this writer wants to express his appreciation to those women (and men) who remain firm in their convictions that it's not the packaging that's important, but what's on the inside that counts.