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The truth about men and diets

In an experiment to find the different ways in which men and women diet, doctors asked 23 men and women to go on a three-day fast, and then tempted them with some of their favourite foods. The scientific study found that men's brains remained relatively calm and worked as normal when faced with tempting, fatty foods.

However, women's brains lit up in "the emotion and hunger desire areas", and it was a bigger struggle for them to resist the tasty and tempting fare in front of them. The study also concluded that women differ from men in other ways, too, when it comes to fighting the flab.

For example, it found that more women work around food, be it in restaurants or shops, or in the preparation of food in the catering industry. So women face more temptation to indulge their appetites. And women's work, on the whole, finds them spending more time sitting down during the day than men.

Then there was also the obvious difference, with many women facing the fight to lose weight after pregnancy.

How do men diet differently from women? How does their physical and emotional make-up make them approach losing weight, and calorie counting, in a different way to their girlfriends and wives?

1 Men do not comfort eat

When in stressful situations, men do not think that a bar of chocolate will make them feel better. Emotional eating is the practice of consuming large quantities of food -- usually 'comfort' or junk foods -- in response to feelings instead of hunger.

Experts estimate that 75pc of overeating is caused by emotions. And women do most of it. Men, it seems, think of something other than food when they are stressed.

2 Men are not educated about nutrition

When a woman decides it's time to get back into her skinny jeans, one of the first things she will do is steer her shopping trolley down the healthy-food aisles of the supermarket.

Men, in general, do not exhibit such an interest in healthy eating when it comes to weight loss.

Women will look for nutrients, read food labels and focus on healthy cooking and healthy meals.

That is why a woman on a diet suddenly takes to eating a handful of raisins or nuts, or produces a punnet of mixed grapes from her handbag.

Men, on the other hand, will continue to buy the same foods, however they will eat them in smaller portions when they are dieting.

So, while it means that women are eating a healthier diet, it can also mean that men lose weight quicker because their focus is straightforward and on cutting back on food and dropping the pounds.

3 Men tend to compete to lose weight

Weight-loss organisations aimed at women, such as Weight Watchers and Unislim, are not just about counting calories, but are about a community of women working together towards a common goal. It's why members often jokingly call them 'fat clubs', but the message is very clear; they belong to a club of like-minded individuals and the atmosphere is one of co-operation and achieving goals within a supportive environment.

For men, losing weight is a sport. Dr Robert Vogel is the author of a health plan called The Pritikin Edge, and he sums it up by

saying: "If I want to goad a man in to losing weight, I'll do it in a competitive way." For men, losing weight is more of an individual pursuit than something to do in a club environment. Dr Vogel adds: "A man will bet a friend he can lose more weight, whereas women will both agree to buy new dresses when they reach their goal."

4 Men don't care so much about looking thin

It's ironic, but while men tend to buy less healthy food than women, they are, however, more likely to diet for health reasons. Studies show men tend to diet from fear of sickness rather than wanting to improve their appearance. So while women are more likely to diet so that they look good in that little black dress or because of the social pressure to be thin, men have fewer, if any, such concerns about looking trim and toned.

A woman will compare herself to her friends, and will try to lose weight if they are thinner. Men have no such problems with having thinner friends. In fact, there is not the same stigma or social pressure about men carrying weight. Men are less likely to be dissatisfied with their bodies than women, and spend less time on the scales looking at the numbers.

However, if a doctor mentions that their weight is likely to cause them health problems, in general men have no hesitation in dropping the pounds.

5 Muscles mean men can lose weight quicker

If a boyfriend and girlfriend start on the same gym regimen, it is likely that he will lose more weight initially because he has more muscle mass.

The bodies of people who are larger or have more muscle will burn more calories, even at rest. And men usually have less body fat and more muscle than women of the same age and weight do, and so will burn more calories.

And a man is also likely to attack weight loss by exercising religiously.

For men, the gym is like a business plan, and once they decide to lose weight, they will start going four to five times a week, and will stick to it.

They will not avoid going to the gym because of a bad hair day, or because their best gym gear is in the washing machine.

More muscle mass and a determined gym plan mean men will lose weight more quickly than women.

So the moral of this article is never to begin a diet at the same time as your man, as he is likely to look better much quicker than you do.