Love handles. Spare tire. Beer belly. Whatever men call it, that abdominal bulge is not healthy and is not a normal part of aging.

According to the Mayo Clinic, men who carry extra weight around the belly are at greater risk for serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.

Gender Differences in Weight Loss

There are differences between men and women when it comes to weight gain and loss. Let's start with perception. Just as a women's "proper double chin" was a sign of wealth and leisure in Fiddler on the Roof, a man's belly was considered a symbol of prosperity in many cultures. Furthermore, unlike women, men haven't typically suffered body image angst.

Since men need more calories to maintain their weight, they don't need to restrict calories as much as women do. Furthermore, men have more testosterone, which makes it easier to build muscle, and muscle increases metabolism and burns more calories.

Action Tips for Losing Weight

The results of SHED-IT (Self-Help, Exercise, and Diet Using Information Technology), a men's-only weight loss trial, found the majority of men who succeed are those most willing to reduce portion size, limit fat intake, and limit consumption of sugary drinks.

Diet. According to Joseph Mercola, MD, about 80 percent of the health benefits from a healthy lifestyle come from diet. He says modern men eat more carbohydrates than our stone-age ancestors, who primarily ate vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, and meat. He believes being fat doesn't come from overeating; being overweight occurs because fructose and dietary carbs (grains, which break down into sugar) lead to excess body fat, obesity, and related health problems. To lose weight, avoid or limit processed carbs and sugars, wheat, and most grains.

Men should watch portion sizes and emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, low-fat dairy, and lean protein, and limit unprocessed or fatty foods, salt, and sugar.

Exercise. Good news for men who don't love exercise: Less may be better. It appears that short intervals of high intensity exercise are actually more productive if you're trying to lose weight. Dr. Mercola calls it the Goldilocks zone—shorter exercise sessions appear to allow men to burn calories without wanting to replace them due to hunger.

You may find that a few strategic changes to your diet and exercise routine provide sustainable weight loss.

Dr. Rafael Pajaro reviewed this article.




Michael Jensen, M.D. "Belly fat in men: Why Weight Loss Matters." Mayo Clinic. Web. 5 February 2011.

Kellow, Juliette, BSc, RD. "Men Losing Weight." Weight Loss Resources. Web.

Monti, Jennifer. "SHED-IT Trial Reveals Weight Loss Keys for Men." Medscape Medical News. Web. 4 June 2010.

Kellow, Juliette, BSc, RD. "Weight Loss for Men." Weight Loss Resources. Web.

Mercola, Joseph, MD. "The Paleo Diet: Should You Eat Like a "Caveman"?" Web. 5 September 2011 .

Anderson, Dean. "3 Weight Loss Tips for Men." Web.

Mercola, Joseph, MD. "Less Can Be More, Research Shows: Maximizing Health Benefits of Exercise By Finding Your 'Goldilock's Zone.'" Web. 12 October 2012.