Recommended Calorie Intake for Women

Recommended Calorie Intake for Women

We've all heard of calories - the measure of energy in our food that fuels the body and affects our weight.

However, how many of us know a healthy amount to consume by gender? According to Public Health England, the answer is only 39% women and 24% men.

Read: Types of Fat: Which to Eat and Avoid?

What is the Recommended Calorie Need for Women?

Calories for women

"The recommended calorie intake for women can be around 2,000 calories per day, although this intake can vary greatly depending on age, weight, activity, lifestyle and level of exercise." says Reema Patel, a dietitian.

The recommended calorie intake for women is less than for men (2,800 calories) because, in general:

  1. Men tend to be larger overall in terms of height and weight.
  2. Men tend to have a greater muscle: fat ratio (after puberty men have about 15 times more testosterone, which contributes to muscle mass).
  3. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue. This means that men's basal metabolism - the number of calories (energy) they burn at rest - is usually higher, as is the number of calories they burn during exercise.
  4. Nutritional needs for women
  5. While it is important to be aware of the proper calorie intake for women, to be healthy we also need to ensure that we are getting the right nutrients through food. In many cases, women need different levels of dietary minerals and vitamins than men.

Patel describes some of the essential nutrients that are important for women's health:

Iron

Pre-menopausal women need more iron because they can lose it through menstrual blood and during pregnancy when the iron in the blood is supplied to their babies.
The requirement is 14.8 milligrams per day (mg/day) compared to 8.7 mg/day for postmenopausal men and women.

Good sources of iron include red meat, chicken, fish, and liver (avoid liver if pregnant). Plant-based sources include beans, legumes, fortified cereals, legumes, and green leafy vegetables.

Combine these plant-based iron foods with sources of vitamin C to help support iron absorption.

Calcium

Pregnant and breastfeeding women need more calcium to help their babies develop and to prevent their bodies from using the calcium in their bones.

Postmenopausal women need more calcium to maintain healthy bones and to prevent conditions such as osteoporosis because the decreased production of estrogen after menopause makes a woman's body less able to retain calcium.

The need for women increases from 700 mg/day to 1250 mg/day while breastfeeding, and to 1200 mg/day postmenopausal.

Good sources of calcium include dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese; calcium-fortified plant-based alternatives, such as tofu (regulated with calcium); canned sardines, anchovies, and salmon; and some green vegetables.

Folic acid (folate)

This B vitamin is especially important for women trying to conceive and during pregnancy because it can help protect the developing baby from major birth defects of the spine and brain.

Needs increased from 200 micrograms per day (μg/day) to 400 g/day.
A folic acid supplement of 400 g/day is key, as it is difficult to get enough from food alone.

Lodine

A mineral that is important for the function of a woman's thyroid hormone, which during pregnancy and breastfeeding can affect the baby's physical growth and cognitive development.

Needs increased from 150 g/day to 200 g/day.
Good sources of iodine include dairy products and plant-based alternatives fortified with iodine, which is found in some beverages, fish, shellfish, and seaweed.

Be careful not to consume seaweed products — including nori, wakame, and seaweed — more than once a week as they can contain very high concentrations of iodine.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Supplementation during pregnancy supports the infant's cognitive development, and may also play a role in the prevention of premenstrual tension and postmenopausal hot flushes.

There are no specific recommendations, but research shows that supplements containing 200-500 mg of DHA (a type of omega 3) are important.

Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel; plant foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds; Specially fortified foods include some frozen fish and eggs.

That's the article Recommended Calorie Needs for Women. May be useful!