We are constantly flooded with messages to “get in shape” and to “eat healthy,” but do we even understand what this entails or why we need to do these things other than just to “look great”? Women’s nutritional needs are not only important for maintaining a healthy weight and appearance, but for keeping all aspects of the body healthy as well. Do you know if you are meeting your needs? Step away from the mixed messages of “healthy eating,” and get the facts about what your body really needs.
Yes ladies it is true – you require less calories than your male peers. While your personal caloric needs are based on individual factors and can vary from one person to the next, the typical starting point is around 1,200 calories a day. Of course if you exercise or live an active lifestyle, these needs will be higher. This number also changes based on body weight. Remember, despite what you ordinarily think about calories, they are necessary to give you energy and when they come from whole or unprocessed foods, calories are not the enemy!
The average adult woman needs about 46 grams of protein a day. Women who are nursing or pregnant require more – about 71 grams in total. Meeting your daily requirements for protein helps you build muscle and keep bones and cells in top condition.
*Eggs – A large/jumbo egg contains 6g of protein while a smaller one may contain somewhere around 4.65g.
*Nuts– Almonds are one of the most protein rich types of nuts. In fact, while many people associate nuts traditionally with fat, this is what many dieticians refer to as “good” fat, as long as it is not consumed in excess. In 100g of almonds, there are 21g of protein. Two handfuls a day are considered to be the right amount.
*Low Fat Yogurt (8 ounces) = 12g of protein
*Smoked Salmon (3 ounces) = 15.55g of protein
*Steak (1 ounce) = 7g of protein
Calcium is important for women of all ages, but especially those who are approaching menopause to help ward off osteoporosis which leads to weakening of the bones. Prior to menopause, you typically require about 1,000 mg of calcium per day and after menopause, continue with the same amount if you are taking estrogen. If you are not on an estrogen supplement then up your intake to 1,500 mg per day.
*Skim Milk (8oz) = 302mg calcium
*Plain Low fat Yogurt (8oz) = 400mg calcium
*Cheddar Cheese (1oz) = 204mg calcium
*Boiled Artichoke (a medium size artichoke) = 135mg calcium
Iron is more important for women than men since levels become lower during menstruation. Your daily requirements change as you age but are typically 18 mg per day until over the age of 50 when they drop down to 8-10 mg a day. If you are not meeting your daily iron needs, you run the risk of becoming anemic.
*Lean Beef (3oz) = 3.2mg iron
*Roasted Chicken Breast (3oz) = 1.1mg iron
*Boiled Lentils (1 cup) = 6.6mg iron