Women’s Nutrition and Diet Guide
When puberty begins, women start to develop nutritional requirements, and as women age, the bodies go through more physical and hormonal changes, so women’s nutritional needs continue to evolve, making it important that diets evolve to meet these changing needs.
Women tend to need fewer calories than men, their requirements for certain vitamins and minerals are much higher. Hormonal changes associated with menstruation, child-bearing, and menopause mean that women have a higher risk of wekened bones, anemia, and osteoporosis, requiring a higher intake of nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin D, and folate or vitamin B9.
• Consume approximately 3 balanced meals daily, along with protein and fiber-filled snacks as needed.
• Balance meals and snacks with whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean and plant-based proteins, milk and dairy products, and healthy fat sources.
• Fill at least half the plate with veggies, a quarter with a lean or plant-based protein, and complement with a whole grain and healthy fat source.
• Relish on life’s indulgences, as the best diet for women is one she can enjoy, stick to, and never tire of!
• Offer color and variety to all meals and snacks to ensure adequate intake of all nutrients.
• Practice mindful eating, especially paying attention to hunger and satiety cues.
While a balanced diet for women lessens the risk of nutritional deficiencies, the nutrients below deserve specific and additional consideration:
Dietary fiber is a component found in plants that cannot be absorbed or digested within the body. Instead of being used for energy, fiber remains mostly intact and travels down the gastrointestinal tract.
It’s most notorious role relates to digestive health, though fiber can also supports heart health, manages weight, manages blood sugars, and reduces the risk of certain types of cancers.
Fiber is predominately found in plate-based sources such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, and veggies.
Women are encouraged to obtain at least 25 grams of fiber daily.
Protein is of the three macronutrients, with fat and carb being the other two, and required for the structure and function of the body’s tissues and organs.
Protein’s most recognized role relates to muscle synthesis, which supports weight loss by cultivating lean body mass to innately boost metabolism. Protein has also shown to be considerably satiating, thus lowering the risk of overeating and controlling caloric intake.
Protein is found in a widespread of animal sources, including chicken, beef, fish, eggs, and dairy products, along with plant-based proteins such as quinoa, lentils, and beans.
Healthy adults are encouraged to consume at least 10 to 35 percent of total daily calories from protein sources. The dietary reference intake (DRI) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (g/kg) of body weight, which amounts to at least 46 grams per day women. However, protein needs also flux based on activity level, pregnancy, and other factors.
Water is recommended to be the primary fluid source. Water is essential for life and facilitates numerable and critical processes in the body, including the digestion of food, transportation of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, excretion of waste material, regulation of body temperature, and lubrication of joints.
Especially when reducing the intake of drinks essentially offering only empty calories, including soft drinks, energy drinks, and alcoholic beverages, water can play a large role in weight management.
Adult women are advised to drink about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids per day, in which water is advised to be the governing hydration source. Hydration can also be supplied from water-rich foods, including watermelon, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, and oranges.
Folate is mostly known for supporting fetal health and development, as it is critical for the metabolism of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) to prevent neural tube defects. The B vitamin is also required for the synthesis of and amino acids.
Beans, lentils, chickpeas, dark green veggies are considered significant sources of folate, though folic acid also often enriches pasta and bread products.
Women, especially of childbearing age, need 400 milligrams (mg) of folate per day.
Women need considerably more iron to compensate for women’s menstrual cycles and during childbearing years.
Beef, lamb, seaweed, soybeans, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, lentils, and clams are rich food sources of iron. Pairing with vitamin C-rich foods, including oranges and other citrus fruits, increases iron absorption.
Women aged 19 to 50 are recommended to obtain 18 mg of iron daily, 27 mg during pregnancy, and 10 mg if lactating.
Calcium plays a significant role in bone and heart health, along with assisting in functions related to nerve impulses and muscle contractions.
Adult women are encouraged to consume 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Daily needs are increased to 1,200 mg after age 50 to protect from bone loss and osteoporosis.
Calcium is rich in milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products. If lactose intolerant or have a dairy allergy, orange juice with added calcium, whole grain cereals, sardines with bones, almonds and unsweetened almond milks, soybeans, and collard greens are safe alternatives.
In addition to the diet and nutrition for women’s health guidelines above, additional dietary considerations include recommendations during pregnancy, if diagnosed or managing certain disease states, or following a specialty diet.
And if desiring meal assistance, look to a meal delivery service that offers customized diets for women to help address and complement individual needs and personal health goals.
Diets for women are not primarily weight-loss focused, but formulated to offer the most opportune nutrients for a happier, healthier life!