Women And WeightlossWho wants to diet?
Simple Facts About Women and Weight LossWomen, in case you haven't noticed, are biologically different from men.
Those differences imply consideration of some guidelines for diet, exercise and health matters in general which may be different from those taken into consideration when talking about weightloss for men.
For example: by nature, women generally have a higher percentage of body fat than men; 27% on average compared to 15% for a fit individual. That single number alone is a piece of helpful information if one of your weight loss or exercise goals is fat reduction. Any woman trying to reduce her percentage should take into account this natural difference, since it can help her avoid guilt and her provide a realistic goal for herself.
Women also experience hormonal changes that differ considerably from that of men as they age. Even young, healthy women can have irregularities in menstrual cycle and other physiological changes as a result of their hormones. This can be seen more clearly by looking at some extreme cases, for example.
Women in concentration camps during WWII frequently discontinued having regular menstrual cycles, as a result of the effects of starvation.
Highly trained female athletes will also often experience similar changes, as a result of ultra-low body fat and other causes.
The ill effects of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) can often be reduced by stabilizing blood sugar levels, regulating fat intake and other dietary changes. For example, mood swings can be smoothed out to some degree by higher amounts of soluble fiber, which helps produce a slower rise in blood sugar. Apples, oats and beans are good sources of this type of fiber. See our page on Weight Loss and Fiber.
Combining fat with protein and carbohydrate intake in a balanced way will help slow the rise in blood sugar from the carbohydrate consumption. Ice cream may be a comfort food but the effect is short-lived and doesn't provide the balance needed. Instead, increase consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables. Bananas are a good choice, along with walnuts.
Women are also more prone to arthritis, fibromyalgia and other conditions. Certain previously unsuspected food allergies can worsen the symptoms, but these are being vigorously studied. Testing is essential, but at the same time a healthy diet will help. Rice beverages or soy milk can be substituted for those sensitive to cows milk, there are wheat-free breads on the market that are still whole grain though peanuts may need to be avoided for some.
Unfortunately, some women who suffer from rheumatic symptoms will find they are allergic to wheat. A gluten-free diet will help lessen that problem. This requires finding substitutes for ordinary cereal, standard bread, pasta and other foods made from wheat flour.
During the period of menopause, as a woman's menstrual cycles become less regular as large hormonal changes are occurring, some dietary changes can help lessen the severity of any discomfort. Lowering sodium intake is helpful. Substitutes include herbs, garlic or lemon juice for flavoring. Each individual is different, though, and you should consult a physician for proper amounts.
Menopausal women will likely benefit from a reduction in saturated fats, beyond that of younger women or males. Since estrogen levels are declining during this period, HDL cholesterol (the beneficial type) will tend to fall and LDL cholesterol (the potentially harmful type) will rise.
One result is that, though men in general tend to have a higher risk of heart attack as they age, during this time a woman's risk becomes equal to those of men of similar age. Reducing saturated and trans fats are steps that can help reduce those risks.
Good news for some! Moderate wine consumption is beneficial to your health. It provides anti-oxidants and other helpful compounds and is generally lower in calories than many alternatives. Lowering caffeine can help reduce loss of calcium, which is more needed as women age. Some recently released data tends to indicate that red wine, in moderation, may help with weight loss.
What constitutes a proper diet varies somewhat by gender and age, so investigate what is right for your particular circumstances. Knowledge, and the proper application of what you learn, is the key to health.
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Page Updated 4:21 PM Wednesday 9/2/2015