Diets: Gender-based training and nutrition – expert warning

When it comes to our nutrition, key factors usually remain the same, such as the importance of maintaining a balanced diet. And an expert nutritionist encouraged people not to “trip up” on what they should be eating or training depending on their gender.

Vic Coppin, a nutritionist at Muscle Food shared her opinions about the differences men and women face when approaching fitness and nutrition, but highlighted a person’s goals should be their main focus.

“When we look at an anatomical and physiological level there are some key differences that may have a bearing on our training and nutrition,” she said.

“[This] includes bone and muscle differences, our metabolisms and our hormones.”

So what should be taken into account when planning a nutritional diet and fitness plan?

READ MORE: Diet: Expert warns against common mistake

Metabolism

Vic pointed out there are some key differences when it comes to the metabolisms of males and females.

She explained: “Women typically have a lower basal metabolic rate (BMR) than a man of equivalent weight and height.

“This difference can range in the hundreds of calories meaning there can be significant difference in the number of calories we need.”

Vic acknowledged that this does vary from person to person depending on various factors.

“This doesn’t, and shouldn’t, be interpreted to mean that women will always need to eat less than men – this is a problematic stigma,” she said.

“This assumption can mean that women who are very active and have increased energy demands due to a tough training regimen will very often shy away from eating the calories they need so it’s important to contextualise our own lifestyles.”

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Hormones

Women have numerous physiological factors to navigate throughout their lives, such as the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, peri-menopause, the menopause.

Vic explained that these hormonal changes may mean that many experience “greater hunger and food cravings, often brought about by a temporary increase in BMR”.

She added: “Add into the mix that these hormonal changes can also have an impact on our training where at various points in our cycle we may be able to tolerate more or less training volume, and experience fluctuations in strength.

“This is often the reason women will have different needs when it comes to vitamins and minerals than men.”

So, should men and women be eating and training differently?

Vic explained: “While there are physiological and psychological factors to take into consideration and some differing needs, how you approach your training and nutrition should always centre around your own goals and ambitions, and your own individual lifestyle factors (time, family, work, sleep, stress) than they really should around whether you’re male or female.

“I can not stress this enough.”

She added: “It’s important that we look at ourselves as individuals and not get wrapped up in some of those fine details which could trip us up.

“Some women will be in a position where they need to eat far more calories than some men, depending on their goals and lifestyle.”

Vic continued: “Some women may never need to make changes to their training and nutrition to coincide with their menstrual cycle, and some will have to build greater awareness of how their cycle impacts their progress and this can empower them to adapt accordingly.”

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