Nutrition

Should Men & Women Diet Differently?

Male and female diet plans often differ due to reasons such as:

Hormone differences.

Body composition goals & Basil Metabolic Rate (BMR) changes.

Hormones

The ‘male’ hormone – testosterone, and the ‘female’ hormone – oestrogen play different roles in the body that causes chemical reactions that create changes to body composition and general health and well-being.

Testosterone: 

The male hormone increases muscle cell development, fat loss, and in some cases cognition. As an individual begins to age, testosterone is effected and can be decreased – specifically in those who live a more sedentary lifestyle.

Oestrogen:

The female hormone regulates the reproductive hormones alongside metabolic processes such as bone growth and cholesterol levels. It can also mediate fat metabolism and cognition.

However, an excess in oestrogen can lead to an increase in body-fat percentage.

Body Composition Goals

& BMR Changes

Invariably, women and men train for different goals. From a personal perspective as a Personal Trainer and Coach (and for example), a lot of my male clients look to lose body fat and gain muscle mass, whereas females commonly look to develop lean muscle tissue; with more of a focus on body-fat reduction.

Gaining Mass

When looking to gain muscle mass, men should focus on making small increments in their calorie intake. This would usually start at working out their BMR for their desired goal.

Secondly, increasing calories by 300-500 will create a calorie surplus and therefore will allow for muscle gain.

Keeping body fat in check, and assuming there is not a dramatic increase in body fat, calories can be increased slowly bi-weekly or monthly by a further 150.

Losing Body Fat

However, a female looking to lose body fat would be aiming at creating a calorie deficit instead of a surplus.

Upon finding the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) you can then begin to reduce calories by 300-500 and begin to slowly decrease body fat.

Diet Plans |

Macros & Calories

To find your exact BMR, you can calculate easily via the Harris-Benedict Method to get the exact figure.

Although this may not be the most accurate way to test to find a 100% figure, it will give you a very close and accurate answer.

To find the exact figure, I would look at finding a medical metabolic test. However, below is a rough guideline on macro-nutrient splits for specific goals.

macros diet

Macronutrients for Muscle Gain % Split
Protein 40%
Carbs 50%
Fats 10%
Macronutrients for Maintenance % Split
Protein 40%
Carbs 40%
Fats 20%
Macronutrients to Lose Body Fat % Split
Protein 50%
Carbs 20%
Fats 30%

*** Percentages are all to be the total calorie intake***

NOTE 

You should always look to rotate your protein, carbs and fat sources to ensure gut function is working at an optimal level.

A strong gut is important to transport vital minerals and vitamins to different cells and organs.

Read More On Gut Health

The Menstrual Cycle |

Diet Changes

The female menstrual cycle can influence your body’s ability to burn fat

During the first 14 days of the month (the follicular phase), heightening levels of estrogen means the body is more insulin sensitive, of which it can tolerate carbohydrates a lot more effectively.

However, towards the end of the month, where progesterone is more dominant, the ability to handle carbohydrates as effectively diminishes. This is why there may be a drop in carbohydrates during this week.

With carbohydrates being dropped, this time is unfortunately where cravings may be heightened due to lower levels of neurotransmitters responsible for feeling good and promoting focus.

Read More On How To Eat & Train Around Menstrual Cycle Phases

Take Home Message

Hormones can play a part in the need for male and females to diet differently – however, it doesn’t prevent anyone from receiving great results from eating and training right – it simply means adapting when needed.

References

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye has a MSc in Sport Physiology and Nutrition, and puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. She enjoys a pun, and in her spare time loves dog walking and eating out.


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