Most of us who aren’t actively pursuing a fitness goal typically don’t count calories, but you don’t have to be a bodybuilder counting their macros to notice that Dad tends to clean up the leftovers from the girls’ plates at the dinner table. Men tend to consume more calories than women, but why is that?
There’s a shared but unspoken understanding that boys just tend to eat more calories because they can and should, but there are more interesting facets as to why. Read on to find out the factors at play, such as gender, age, lifestyle and body composition, that affect your unique caloric requirements and whether or not you should take this into consideration of your daily diet.
What Makes a Healthy Diet for Everyone?
Before diving into these differences, it’s important to establish that in general, you don’t have to obsess over these different gender requirements to feel healthy and energized.
That said, the NHS generally recommends that you should have a daily caloric intake of 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 for men. With this caloric quota as a guide, you can build out a healthy and balanced diet with complex carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. You can’t go wrong by being mindful of what you’re including in your meals.
Why Do Men Need More Calories?
Age, size and activity levels will influence your necessary caloric intake, but
While the recommended daily caloric intake varies depending on factors such as age, weight, height, and activity level, men typically require more calories than women. This is because
Exercise and Body Composition
Men tend to have higher levels of muscle mass, which burns more calories at rest than fat tissue. Additionally, men generally have larger body sizes than women. According to the American Council on Exercise, men typically burn more calories during exercise than women due to their higher levels of muscle mass and overall body weight. Muscle tissue is metabolically active, meaning it burns more calories at rest than fat tissue. This means that men require more calories to maintain their muscle mass than women do. Additionally, men tend to have a lower percentage of body fat – our body’s reserve store of energy – than women. As a result, this contributes to why men have higher caloric needs.
While women in sports are finding better representation nowadays, inspiring more girls to participate in sports and physical activities, a global analysis by the Lancet in 2018 found that 31.7% of women are inactive versus 23.4% for men across most countries. This can be linked to the tendency that men have more active lifestyles than women, which automatically necessitates a higher caloric need for men. This also accounts for the perception that men typically take on physically demanding jobs and engage in activities such as manual labor.
Testosterone, a hormone that is present in higher levels in men than women, can increase muscle mass and bone density, which in turn increases metabolic rate and energy expenditure. This means that men require more calories to support these processes. On the other hand, estrogen, which is present in higher levels in women than men, can increase fat storage and slow down metabolic rate. This means that women may require fewer calories than men to maintain a healthy weight.
Unique Nutritional Requirements for Women
Now we understand some reasons why men need more calories, but did you also know about these unique nutritional requirements for women? For example, women require more iron than men due to loss of this important mineral during menstruation. Additionally, pregnant and breastfeeding women require additional nutrients to support the growth and development of their baby, in which case women have to be extra selective of the content of their caloric intake.
Your Optimal Caloric Intake
General nutritional recommendations are great tools to getting more proactive with your nutrition, including daily caloric intake. However, as we’ve seen with the factors discussed above, so many variables can influence how much you should be consuming day to day, especially if you have your own fitness and weight goals.
You can consult a nutritionist or trainer to nail down a more tailored approach to your optimal caloric intake, such as deciding to load or go into a deficit, but you can take the first step yourself with the in-depth nutrition and diet reports from CircleDNA’s genetic tests.
Your DNA plays a prominent role in your body’s unique nutritional needs, so by understanding your genetic predispositions, you can make better, informed choices beyond just your dietary planning.