Does Gender Affect Nutritional Needs?
Gender is fluid. With the increase in individuals who identify outside the female and male binary, we now know this to be more accurate than ever. But when it comes to biological sex, do our nutritional needs vary depending on if we were born male or female? Science would say yes - to an extent. Read on to discover what nutritional requirements you may need depending on your biological sex.
Men vs. Women: What’s the Difference?
Today, we know that men and women are more alike than different. For many people, nutritional needs vary from individual to individual based on a number of factors, not simply on gender. Despite this, gender can indicate general nutritional needs such as when it comes to the amount of nutrients that men and women need to function optimally. Considering the nutritional needs of a typical person of your gender can be beneficial if you want to know what foods and nutrients you need in order to stay healthy.
Calories In and Calories Out
Every individual is different, but this does not mean that a baseline cannot be a helpful guide for those beginning or continuing in their nutritional journey. One factor to consider when evaluating your nutritional needs is caloric intake and expenditure.
Generally, women are smaller and have less muscle mass than men. Evolutionary processes such as a woman's ability to carry a child mean that women tend to hold more fat than men. Muscle tends to burn more calories than fat, and thus women typically will not burn as many calories as men. This is why women are recommended to eat 2,000 calories a day while men are recommended to eat 2,500 calories a day. This, of course, is a very general rule of thumb, and factors such as exercise and genetics can play a role in how many calories an individual person should be consuming daily.
When it comes to nutrients, men and women may require differing amounts depending on the nutrient and the effects on the body. For example, women are typically recommended to consume 1,000mg of calcium per day in order to reduce their risk of osteoporosis. While it is important for men to incorporate calcium into their diet, the daily recommended intake is 800mg. This is because a diety higher in calcium has been shown to increase the risk of prostate cancer in men. Therefore, gender does affect the amount of calcium one should be consuming.
Another nutrient that varies between men and women is protein. While different factors can vary the amount of protein recommended from person to person, men are generally considered to need more protein in their diet than women. This is because men typically weigh more and carry more muscle mass than the average woman. Too much protein can lead to a loss of calcium in the urine, and so women who are at risk or have osteoporosis should limit their daily protein intake to no more than 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight.
The same calculation can be used for men, and since they typically have more body mass than women, their recommended protein intake will be higher. However, when it comes to athletes, whether male or female, the amount of protein needed to keep the muscles working at full functionality increases.
Due to the monthly menstrual cycle most women experience, women typically need more iron in their diet than men. Women are also at a higher risk of anemia for this reason than men, and so incorporating more iron into their diet can help them reduce the risk of becoming iron deficient.
Too much iron in men, however, can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks and therefore do not need as much iron in their diet as women.