Burnt out: Why women should avoid using fat burners formulated for men

While the hardcore packaging of the thermogenic fat burners in your man’s supplement cupboard may look appealing, it’s important for women to understand that taking products formulated specifically for men can have an adverse effect.

That’s because men and women are distinctly different, not only physically in terms of their weight, height and relative body composition, but also in their physiology and biology, particularly the ways their hormonal (endocrine) systems function, along with their metabolisms.

Multiple factors

Let’s look at the obvious differences first. Women generally weigh less than men. This means that, to have the same effect, a dose of a potent thermogenic compound would need to be significantly higher in a fat burner formulated for men than it would for one formulated specifically for women.

The manner in which women metabolise compounds can also be vastly different to the way the same substance is metabolised by a male’s body.

Take alcohol, for instance. As a women’s body is, in general, composed of more fat, and they carry less water – the average adult male is approximately 60% water and the average adult female is approximately 50% – the concentration of alcohol (or medication or stimulants) will likely be greater in the body of a female, even when body weight is the same. Alcohol is also metabolised slower in the digestive systems of women, allowing more alcohol to reach the blood stream and other organs than in men.

There are also differences in enzyme activity between men and women that influence the metabolism of substances like medication and alcohol.

For example, gastric alcohol dehydrogenase activity is higher in males than in females. As a result, women have a lower alcohol threshold than men.

Differences in digestive health, food interactions, gut motility and transit time (mean transit times are shorter in men than in women), gut pH (gastric fluid is more acidic in males than females), and gut flora composition can also influence differences in the absorption of specific compounds, like those found in thermogenic fat burners.

Hormonal differences

In terms of hormonal differences, oestrogen, which is the dominant sex hormone in females, has a major influence in gastric first-pass metabolism and the elimination rates of both alcohol and orally-ingested medications (the ways drugs are metabolised is known as pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics).

Even caffeine is metabolised at different rates, with men experiencing a greater effect, and within just 10 minutes than that experienced by women, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Barcelona.

The fact that the metabolism of most substances is slower in women than in men is believed to be the major cause of differential pharmacokinetics between the sexes.

Practically speaking, this means that higher doses of compounds will take longer to be metabolised and get to work in females, and will also take a longer time before they can be eliminated from the body. Long-term use of the wrong fat burner can therefore cause a build-up for powerful compounds as the female body is not able to process the dosages and volumes being taken.

Stress response

Exceeding gender-relevant dosages of specific compounds can also affect your body in other ways.

Thermogenic fat burners have a tendency to elevate cortisol levels, which increases total stress, reducing muscle mass and down-regulating hormones that play a vital role in lipolysis (fat metabolism). This has a significant impact on your ability to change your body composition.

Yes, despite its primary function as a fat burner, overdosing on these products can actually reduce your ability to lose fat over time.

By increasing stress hormone output, fat burners and stimulants elicit a fight-or-flight response by increasing adrenaline output. While this will give you more energy and you’ll be able to work harder during this time, with the rise in body temperature helping to boost your metabolism, over time this effect will diminish and your body will eventually stop responding in this way as adrenal fatigue sets in.

You’ll very quickly start to burn out as endocrine organics and the metabolic hormones they produce become overworked, with the receptors in your brain responsible for signalling fat loss also becoming fatigued.

Faced with all these potential issues, it’s pertinent to ask yourself if you really want to dip into his stash of powerful thermogenic fat burners, even if they may seem more effective at ‘shredding’ or ‘torching’ fat

While you may get an initial boost, over time the metabolic costs on your body will mount and you’ll ultimately pay the price with issue like endocrine disruption and hormonal imbalances that could lead to a metabolic slowdown or, worse, a shutdown.

A better approach

Rather stick to the wide range of products that have been specifically formulated to work with a female’s unique physiology and biology by delivering the right dose and combination of research-backed ingredients that have been proven to deliver results.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

When he's not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He's worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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