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Individualized Approaches to Weight Loss

Thursday 15 February 2024
Weight Loss
5 minute(s) read

Table of Contents

I. Factors Influencing Weight Loss

II. Weight Gain Due to Medical Conditions

III. Conclusion

When embarking on a weight loss journey, many of us fall into the trap of following cookie-cutter plans that promise quick results. However, adopting an individualized approach to weight loss is the true secret to long-term success.

In this article, we'll discuss the effects of age, gender, body composition, and medical conditions on weight loss.

Factors Influencing Weight Loss

If you're trying to lose weight, it's crucial to consider the factors that can influence your progress. Age, gender, and body composition determine the most effective strategies for shedding those extra pounds.

Age and Metabolic Rate

One crucial aspect of weight loss is your age and its impact on your metabolic rate. Metabolic rate refers to the amount of energy, or calories, your body uses to maintain itself. [1]

Unfortunately, as we age, our metabolism tends to slow down. Studies have shown that the rate at which we break down food decreases by 10 percent with each passing decade after age 20. This means that even if you don't consume more calories than usual, a slower metabolism can lead to weight gain over time. [1]

However, the good news is that you can somewhat influence your metabolism. Making small changes to your routine boosts your calorie-burning potential.

  • Incorporate high-intensity interval training. This involves alternating between periods of intense activity and slower-paced movement. For instance, try speeding up for 30 to 60 seconds while walking or jogging, then returning to your normal pace. Repeating this pattern for just 12 minutes allows your metabolism to remain elevated for an entire day, resulting in increased calorie burn.
  • Eat more protein. Protein has a higher "thermic effect" than carbs or fat, meaning your body uses more calories to digest it. Aim for 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal.
  • Drink green tea. Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate, which has been found to burn calories. A 2011 study found that drinking about three cups per day, which provides about 250 mg of this compound, can burn up to 100 calories daily. [2]

Gender Differences in Weight Loss

Man and woman at the gym

Although we share many similarities in how our bodies function, there are some key differences that impact calorie burning and fat storage between the sexes.

  • Differences in fat storage: Men tend to store fat in their abdomen, giving them more of an "apple" shape, while women tend to store fat lower in the body and between muscles, leading to more of a "pear" shape. This is due to hormonal differences and women naturally having less skeletal muscle mass and more body fat. The fat that men store in their midsection is more dangerous than fat stored elsewhere, putting them at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues.
  • Differences in fat burning after a workout: Women tend to burn more carbohydrates right after a workout, while men begin burning fat sooner. This means it may be easier for men to lose fat through exercise alone.
  • Differences in hormones: Puberty marks a divergence point for weight gain patterns between girls and boys. Girls gain more fat mass during puberty, mostly due to a rise in estrogen. Boys gain more muscle mass after puberty thanks to increased testosterone. This leads to different calorie needs, with men requiring more calories to maintain muscle as they age than women do. [3]

Body Composition

Understanding your body composition is crucial for balancing your fat and muscle mass. A good ratio of fat to muscle mass can lower your risk for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. [4] To achieve a healthy body composition:

  • Have a healthy ratio of fat to muscle: Skeletal muscle and bone density allow you to perform daily tasks, live actively, and prevent diseases like osteoporosis.
  • Pair physical activity with a healthy diet: This helps shed excess fat while maintaining or building lean muscle mass. This combination is the healthiest approach for achieving your optimal body composition. [4]

Body composition can be measured in two ways:

  • BOD POD: this egg-shaped chamber uses air displacement to determine your body composition. It's quick, non-invasive, and very accurate. 
  • Skinfold measurement involves your doctor pinching and measuring skinfold thickness at seven sites on your body with a caliper. This method is quick, inexpensive, and slightly invasive. [4]

Weight Gain Due to Medical Conditions

Elderly man taking a pill with water

Occasionally, weight gain isn't caused by lifestyle factors alone. Underlying health issues or medications can also lead to unintentional weight gain. If you're gaining weight and unsure of the cause, speak to your doctor. They can assess if any medical reasons are contributing to your weight gain.

Certain health conditions like hypothyroidism, PCOS, or menopause can slow metabolism and make it difficult to lose weight. Some medications, such as birth control pills, antidepressants, or steroids, may also lead to weight gain as a side effect. [5] Your doctor will analyze your hormone levels, run blood tests, and review your medications to determine if there are any medical causes of your weight gain.

While the underlying issue may need to be addressed, your doctor may advise adjusting your diet and exercise regimen. They may refer you to a nutritionist who can design an eating plan tailored to your needs. Some examples of diet plans your nutritionist may recommend are the following:

  • The DASH diet is often recommended for hypertension. It emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. This well-balanced diet helps control blood pressure.
  • The Mediterranean diet is excellent for weight loss and diabetes management. It promotes healthy body weight through moderation rather than restriction. Whole, minimally processed foods are encouraged over fast food.
  • The autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet eliminates inflammatory foods. This helps reduce systemic inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto's. Foods are first eliminated, then gradually reintroduced to identify triggers. [6]


Everyone's weight loss journey is different. By taking the time to consider unique factors such as age, gender, medical history, and body composition, you can craft personalized plans tailored to your needs. This holistic approach promotes sustainable weight loss and supports overall health and well-being.

To learn more about weight loss, visit our dedicated weight loss blog.

The content provided in this article is based on thorough research and in some cases, reviewed by a medical professional. Our goal for the information is to provide helpful, general health information. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice.