Is there a difference in the nutritional requirements of men and women?
For both men and women, the essentials of a healthy diet are the same. Eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full. Choose low-saturated-fat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and dairy products. Trans fat, high sodium, and added sugar should all be avoided.
While these general guidelines apply to everyone, a more specific nutrition and activity plan to implement the guidelines differs by gender.
Take, for example, calorie requirements. Men have higher caloric demands than women since they have a larger body (both in height and weight) and more muscular mass.
A 30-year-old woman of medium stature and moderate physical activity requires approximately 2000 calories per day, while her male counterpart requires approximately 2800 calories per day. The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) estimate that a male burns roughly 400 calories more per day than a woman, even if they are the same height and weight.
Although the recommended carbohydrate, protein, and fat breakdowns are the same for both genders, men require a higher overall consumption of each of the macronutrients because they require more calories.
MINERALS AND VITAMINS
Women require less calories than men, but they have higher vitamin and mineral requirements in many circumstances. For women, getting enough calcium, iron, and folic acid is especially important.
Women are more susceptible to weaker bones and osteoporosis than males due to hormonal changes linked with menstruation and childbearing. As a result, postmenopausal women require more calcium than their male counterparts (1000 mg for 51- to 70-year-old women compared to 800 mg for 51- to 70-year-old men). At other ages, calcium consumption recommendations are the same for both genders.
Due to the monthly blood loss associated with menstruation, women have a higher risk of iron deficiency anemia than men. Premenopausal women require about 18 milligrams of iron per day, whereas men require only 8 milligrams.
Both men and women require approximately 400 micrograms of the B vitamin folic acid, but the DRIs recommend that all women of childbearing age take a multivitamin containing at least 400 micrograms of folic acid to prevent brain and spinal cord defects in a developing fetus. These severe repercussions can emerge as early as the first few weeks of pregnancy, before a woman even realizes she is pregnant. The DRIs recommend 600 micrograms per day once a woman is pregnant.
Men and women can both benefit from moderate alcohol intake in terms of cardiovascular health, but women might also suffer from a terrible side effect: an increased chance of breast cancer. If at all, alcohol should be drunk in moderation by both genders.
CONTROL OF WEIGHT
Despite a higher caloric allowance, men are disproportionately more likely than women to be overweight or obese. Obesity [defined as a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30 kg/m2] has widespread and severe consequences, afflicting more than a third of Americans.
Nearly 70% of adults in the United States are overweight (defined as a BMI of more than 25 kg/m2) or obese. When it comes to men over the age of 20, over three out of every four are overweight or obese, compared to around two out of every three women. In older individuals, a similar percentage of men and women are overweight, but older women are significantly more obese than older males.
Only speculation can be made as to why men have become the heavier sex. Whatever the reasons, most men would find that, due to gender differences in fat storage and metabolism, it is actually easier for them to lose weight than women if they were able to overcome the barriers and commit to healthier eating and more physical activity.
Overall, greater knowledge of the nutritional value of foods, such as calories, macronutrient composition, and vitamin and mineral content, will enable men and women to make better nutritional decisions and get closer to their health, fitness, and weight-loss goals.