Everything you need to know about women’s nutrition, as well as valuable tips for nutrition during specific life phases. In summary: everything you need to live healthily and consciously as a woman.
The right nutrition for women in every phase of their life
Nutrition has a big influence on our body – whether male or female. A healthy diet is the foundation for strength, efficiency and physical and mental well-being. Fundamentally, there are some small differences between the nutritional requirements of men and women. The gap between the metabolic processes of both sexes is in fact greater than was long suspected. For example, the flavonoids in green tea can lower cholesterol levels in men, but do not have this effect in women (instead the tannins in the tea can actually impair iron absorption in women). In addition, there are some life phases and unique features of the female body that require a change of diet or at least a slight adjustment of eating habits. Thus, nutrition for women is indeed a topic in its own right.
What women should really eat
Modern beauty ideals, which are conveyed through the media but also in our social environments, have an influence on the eating behaviours of women – in particular young women. It is often suggested that women should simply skip meals in order to lose weight. This behaviour not only provides a breeding ground for the development of eating disorders but It also creates a lack of nutrients and often leads to the yo-yo effect.
Food also influences fertility and the menstrual cycle, the development and health of the foetus during pregnancy and the symptoms you experience during your period. Being either underweight or overweight has a negative influence on fertility because oestrogen levels are disturbed. It is important that you have a sufficient supply of all required nutrients. In stressful everyday family-life, your diet can often fall short. In our Family Guide to Healthy Eating you will find everything you need to know about how to organize a healthy diet for the whole family.
“Take care of your body, you only get one!”
As a woman, you should consider the following in connection with your diet:
1. Risk of osteoporosis
The risk of developing osteoporosis is higher in women than in men. For this reason, it is important that you strengthen your bones with sufficient calcium and that you get enough exercise.
2. Psychological stress
Women are more prone to mental exhaustion than men. This is partly due to the hormone oxytocin, which is responsible for empathy and usually occurs in higher levels in women than in men. Potassium can prevent anxiety by relaxing the nervous system.
3. Joint problems
Inflammatory joint diseases such as arthritis affect three times more women than men. Vitamin E can counteract this by inhibiting inflammation.
4. Folic acid
Folic acid is important, especially during pregnancy. It belongs to the group of B vitamins. During pregnancy, you should take in enough folic acid to prevent disabilities in your unborn child. Would you like to know more? Then read our article about nutrition before, during and after pregnancy.
Women very often suffer from iron deficiency. The reason for this usually lies in their diet, but the deficiency is exacerbated by blood loss during their monthly period. You can read more about this in our article about finding the right diet to suit your menstrual cycle.
You can read about what to pay attention to during different stages of life in our articles on nutrition during pregnancy, your period, the menopause, when on the contraceptive pill or for a bloated belly.
Women's nutrition: The female hormones
A few days before menstruation the female body experiences hormonal fluctuations. The symptoms that then occur are called premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The symptoms may include:
- Food cravings
- Mood swings
- Increased appetite
- Water retention
- Sensitive breasts
- A craving for sweet foods
Women who are struggling with premenstrual syndrome can help to alleviate their symptoms through the right diet.
- Get enough vitamins
- Abstain from caffeine, alcohol and sugar
- Draining foods such as asparagus and nettle tea can counteract water retention
- Omega-3 fatty acids, iron and magnesium can alleviate menstrual pain, as they have an influence on the pain messengers that are released during menstruation
Nutrition myths that neither women nor men should believe
Some dietary myths persist regardless of generation or gender. They can have a negative influence on your eating habits, so you should find out whether such statements are true. These include the following myths:
Eating in the evening makes you fat
The principle is quite simple: If you are in a calorie deficit you will lose weight, if you are in a calorie surplus you will gain weight. It is irrelevant when you consume these calories, it is the daily or weekly balance that is decisive. How many calories you should consume per day can be calculated with our free calorie calculator.
In order to lose weight you have to do without carbohydrates
Slimming success has nothing to do with the amount of carbohydrates you consume. So you can lose weight with both a high and low carbohydrate diet. What is crucial, however, is to pay attention to the difference between short-chain and long-chain carbohydrates. Short-chain carbohydrates are found more often in sweets, white flour products, sugary drinks and convenience foods. You should avoid these in order to avoid peaks in your blood sugar levels, which are followed by crashes and sudden hunger. You can read more about this topic in our detailed article on long- and short-chain carbohydrates.
Fats are bad for you
The key here is that fats are not all equal. Healthy fats are a necessary part of a balanced diet. Healthy fatty acids include the polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which the body cannot produce on its own. Therefore, it is vital to get them in your diet. The unhealthy fats on the other hand are trans fats. Trans fats are artificially hardened fats that the body cannot process. They increase the harmful LDL cholesterol and lower the healthy HDL cholesterol and are produced when oils are industrially hardened, but also when unsaturated fatty acids are heated and fried.
Being slim means being healthy
It has been scientifically proven that being severely underweight is just as harmful as being severely overweight. Despite being thin, you may still have nutritional deficiencies – for example, due to an unhealthy diet. The so-called “skinny fat” body type also carries risks. This is where you are slim, but still have a high body fat percentage. Carrying organ fat around your abdomen is particularly harmful to your health, regardless of your dress size, and is usually caused by alcohol, stress, unhealthy nutrition and a lack of exercise. In order to avoid this, make sure you eat a balanced and healthy diet, have an appropriate lifestyle and get enough sleep, regardless of whether you want to lose weight or not.
Soya contains female hormones
Soya contains phytoestrogens (secondary plant substances). These act similarly to the female sex hormone, oestrogen, and can actually relieve women’s menopausal symptoms. However, unlike oestrogen, phytoestrogens have no effect on female development (e.g. breast growth).
Frequently asked questions and answers
Your calorie exenditure depends on your height, age, gender, weight, body composition and activity level. You can use a formula to calculate your basal metabolic rate and add a PAL (= physical activity level) factor. The Upfit calorie calculator helps you to calculate exactly what you need to achieve your individual goal and also gives you your ideal micronutrient and macronutrient distribution.
No, not generally. A ‘Refeed Day’ or ‘Cheat Day’ (better still a Cheat meal) is used to replenish the glycogen stores in your muscles, liver and brain during a low carbohydrate diet. A Refeed Day is therefore only useful if you follow a strict low carb diet, or if you do a lot of sports during a low carbohydrate diet. An indication for the necessity of a cheatmeal is persistent listlessness about one to two weeks after starting a low carb diet. In the Upfit Coach you will find more information on how a cheat day can help you lose weight and build muscle.
No, there is no point in skipping carbs in the evening. On the contrary: the body usually digests carbohydrates faster than proteins or fats, so the digestive tract is emptied faster and does not have to work overnight. This has a positive effect on sleep, as does the increased serotonin release after carbohydrate consumption. The idea that we absolutely need carbohydrates for energy in the morning is just as wrong as the assumption that we store carbohydrates consumed in the evening more quickly.
No, it is not necessary – a calorie deficit is sufficient to lose weight. But incorporating training into your weight loss plan has huge advantages. On the one hand, exercise burns energy so we don’t have to reduce the amount of food we eat as much in order to lose weight. On the other hand, strength training in particular maintains the muscles during weight loss so that we lose proportionally more fat than muscle. Since fat has more volume than muscle for a given weight, the visual effect of weight loss with training is much greater than without. We have summarized the most important information for you in the article Training & Sports Nutrition.
Upfit is developed with graduates from the renowned Sports University in Cologne, Germany. Upfit incorporates the latest nutritional findings for a 100% scientific based approach. Our plans are always individually tailored to you, your everyday life and your personal needs. In addition to this, our nutrition experts are always there to help you with advice and support to help you reach your goal. A huge range of delicious recipes with trimmed down shopping lists and shorter cooking times are our claim, so that healthy nutrition can be integrated into every day life and can be enjoyed. Create your diet plan for losing weight in just a few minutes and put your plans into practice!