BODYTEC: How do women’s bodies differ to men’s and how does this affect their nutritional requirements?
SALLY-ANN CREED: Men and women are different due to their hormones, which dictate fat storage and different nutritional needs. For example men need more zinc while women need more B6 and iron. We all have similar nutritional needs and it’s not possible to go through every nutrient, these are just two of the main ones. Because men have much higher levels of testosterone they are much better at burning fat and building muscle from protein. Women are not as efficient at fat burning as their hormones like to store fat, whereas men’s like to burn it.
BT? Do women crave sugar more than men?
SAC: People who eat a lot of carbohydrates will have a sweet tooth – however due to the fact that women’s insulin is less effective in the second half of their monthly cycle, they will crave sugar more in those weeks than before – again this is all linked to hormones. Anyone can get around this by increasing healthy fat and protein and cutting carbs, especially eliminating refined carbs.
BT: Should women drink less alcohol than men?
SAC: Yes, they have a far more limited ability to process the alcohol. Women have far less of the enzyme called alcohol dehydrenase to process alcohol than men do. There is also a strong breast cancer connection with alcohol, so limiting alcohol to four units a week is recommended (if at all).
BT: Do we need more calcium than men?
SAC: No, what women need is more Vitamin D3 and K2 to be able to assimilate the calcium and place it into the long bones. Calcium supplementation is never a good idea, as our food is awash with calcium. However it is not bio-available nor is it deposited into the long bones (it can end up in arteries and brain!) without adequate amounts of D3 and K2. There are other co-factors such as magnesium of course, and sufficient stomach acid (bones are never about just one thing) – so we would do better to have a better diet and maybe some supplements in this area.