By Natasha Vani, MSc., ATCP
As children we often fought with our siblings, and regardless of gender it was a fair game—our body size and composition were somewhat similar. In fact, there was little difference in our height, weight and even strength. But in no time at all, the onset and progression of puberty began and all of a sudden for us girls, the flight response kicked in more than the fight response.
Girls and boys
When it comes to changes in body size and composition, the transformation from prepubescent child to adult is primarily a result of hormonal changes, with the two most significant hormones being testosterone and estrogen. While both hormones exist in girls and in boys, puberty involves a greater increase in testosterone in boys and a greater increase in estrogen in girls. What ultimately causes the “fair game” to become not-so-fair is that fact that testosterone is linked to increases in bone formation and muscle size, whereas estrogen is linked to fat deposition and breast development. Therefore by the time puberty has finished…
Women and men
The adult male is larger overall, has a greater muscle mass and has a lower percentage of body fat than the average female. While it is obvious that this discrepancy in body composition results in appearance differences, we must recognize that it also causes a difference in our ability to manage weight and perform daily tasks.
Both men and women need an essential amount of fat, however, excess fat becomes stored and does relatively little other than provide insulation. Excess muscle, on the other hand, does not have the same function or storing mechanism and is therefore always active, which requires fuel.