Nutrition For Women - Dietary Guidelines For A
Healthy Female Body
Have you ever thought to yourself, "I know my diet isn't perfect.
Between family, work and running around, I just feel tired a lot
of the time. Maybe there's something missing in my diet that would
give me the energy I used to have."
you answered yes, or simply feel that you could use more energy
to get you bursting through each day, please take the next few minutes
to learn these eight nutrition tips to improve your stamina and
performance. Plus you'll be getting the nutrients you need to fight
the chronic diseases that are of increasing concern to women.
If you have a friend that could use a boost, print this out for
her. Busy women often find themselves skipping meals, eating "empty"
snacks, skimping on vitamins and overstuffing with fat-free foods.
Women also have to realize that what works for men may not work
for them. We have different nutritional requirements.
To help you meet those requirements, here are eight nutrition tips.
Follow them, and your stamina and performance should improve, plus
you'll be getting the nutrients you need to fight the chronic diseases
that are of increasing concern to women.
Most people don't east often enough to get as lean and trim
as they would like. Lets think of your metabolism as a burning fire.
Ok, what is your metabolism? The term: resting metabolic rate (RMR),
is the number of calories your body burns at rest to carry out typical
body functions like breathing and pumping blood. RMR makes up most
of your metabolism - the total number of calories you burn in a
day. Back to your fire, or metabolism; women that feed their bodies
with 300 calories every three hours will be naturally boosting their
metabolism and may improve their memory and cognitive skills later
in the day.
On the other hand, skipping meals can leave you feeling drained,
unable to concentrate and want to forfeit your evening workout.
Long stretches between eating signal the body to slow the metabolism
and store fat - it's the survival mechanism left over from out heritage
When we skip meals earlier in the day we may want to overeat at
night. When night time falls you'll be more likely to choose foods
that are high in fat, sugar and calories; leading to feelings of
Best to eat around five times a day--that's three meals and two
snacks. Always plan ahead if you have a busy schedule. Store snacks
you know that are healthy in your workbag. Some suggestions are:
Almonds, apple, dried fruit, energy bars, protein bars, meal replacement
or protein shake (with your shaker cup), canned vegetable juice
and small boxes of ready-to-eat breakfast cereal are all good choices
that are high in carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Get
yourself a cooler and enjoy cottage cheese or yogurt as your mini
Boosting Your B2
Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, assists in the breakdown of carbohydrates
and fats for energy for working muscles. It is obvious then that
this vitamin plays a crucial role during endurance exercise. Research
on women shows that 30 minutes of daily exercise lowers riboflavin
levels in the body. What does this mean for you? As a women that
exercises you should try to get at least the RDA (1.3 milligrams
for women). Talking with your doctor about whether or not you need
more than the RDA is best, especially if you enjoy endurance training.
Good sources of riboflavin
- 1 percent or skim milk
- Nonfat yogurt or other low-fat dairy foods
- Breads, cereals and other grain products are also good sources.
Bone Up On Calcium
"Drink your milk, it will help you build strong bones."
This sentence we have all heard over the years through our schools,
the media and in our homes. Getting enough calcium and protein is
particularly crucial for women, who are susceptible to osteoporosis.
Activities such as running and weight training help build stronger
bones, however if you are amenorrheic (missed menstrual periods),
you can lose bone mass despite regular exercise. Reason: amenorrheic
women have lower levels of estrogen, a hormone that plays a key
role in building and maintaining bone calcium.
An estimated 25 percent of women runners become amenorrheic at
some point often due to their low body weight and low levels of
body fat. Some are helped only by estrogen-replacement therapy.
In other cases, changes in their diet work well - especially if
they've been eating not enough calcium and protein.
For amenorrheic athletes, the calcium RDA of 800 milligrams for
women over the age of 24 is insufficient. Around 1,200 milligrams,
the equivalent of four servings of milk, looks to be more appropriate.
As for protein, women vegetarians should know that a low intake
may put them at higher risk for amenorrhea.
Always be sure you get regular servings of dairy products, calcium-rich
tofu and greens, and calcium-fortified orange juice. Also, eat lean
meat and/or high-quality protein combinations such as pinto beans
and rice. Avoid fiber supplements as these bind calcium and other
minerals in the intestinal tract. When this happens the absorption
of essential nutrients decreases.
Vegetarians, Getting Your Vitamins
Women who are vegetarian have thought that not consuming meat
products is a great way to reduce their fat intake, boost their
carbohydrates and improve their overall health. Are they right in
this way of thinking? Research is showing us that vegetarians are
generally healthier than meat-eaters, that they have a lower incidence
of cancer and heart disease and that they have leaner bodies
We need to be in the know: being a vegetarian doesn't guarantee
improved health. When the health of vegetarian women is compared
to non-vegetarians, they took in less:
" Calcium: Essential to the formation and maintenance of strong
bones and teeth.
" Zinc: Even a minimal deficiency of zinc impairs thinking
and memory. Important for a strong immune system.
" Vitamin B12: a vitamin crucial for healthy red blood cells
and nerve fibers.
Those in the study ate less than half the RDA for B12. Since B12
is found only in animal products (red meat, fish, shellfish, eggs
and milk are good sources) strict vegetarians (or "vegans")
must look for foods, such as soy milk, that are fortified with this
Zinc is found almost exclusively in meat (oysters are an especially
rich source). An exception is whole grains, but stay away from grains
that are refined as they lose their zinc content. Wheat germ is
one of the best zinc sources. You can easily add a tablespoon or
two to hot cereals, casseroles, soups or blender drinks.
Folate, another gem in the B vitamin family, is waiting for
you in green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale and certain
dark-green lettuces. Most women don't get enough of this vitamin,
and the deficiency is linked to severe neural-tube defects in newborns.
This connection is so strong that the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now recommend
that women take in 400 micrograms of folate daily, which is more
than twice the current RDA. Recently there has been talk by the
FDA of fortifying grains with folate (as is already done with the
B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin and niacin). Adding folate to breads
and pastas would boost your folate intake by an estimated 30 to
As we wait for this to take place, try to eat good sources of folate
Sources of folate include: leafy greens, citrus fruits. A 6-ounce
glass of orange juice contains 120 micrograms of folate.
Folate can be lost from foods during preparation, cooking, or storage.
To retain folate:
- Serve fruits and vegetables raw whenever possible.
- Steam, boil, or simmer vegetables in a minimal amount of water.
- Store vegetables in the refrigerator.
Add Soybeans To Your Routine
People who eat regular servings of soybean products such as
tofu and miso are at a lower risk of heart disease. One of every
two women will die of cardiovascular disease. And although we women
are on average are a decade older than men when the disease first
strikes, it kills as many women as it does men. (Ten times more
women die of heart disease than die of breast cancer each year.)
Causes of Death in the United States Most Common, 1999*
Native to East Asia, soybeans have been a major source
of protein for people in Asia for more than 5,000 years. Soybeans
are high in protein (more than any other legume) and fiber, low
in carbohydrates and are nutrient-dense. Soybeans contain substances
called phytoestrogens, which can significantly lower your "bad"
LDL cholesterol and raise your "good" HDL cholesterol.
Add soybeans to soups and casseroles as you would other dried beans.
Tofu works well in salads, pasta dishes, sandwiches and even shakes.
And though soybeans are somewhat higher in fat than other beans,
that fat is primarily the cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated and
Did you know that 50 percent of all women runners are deficient
in iron? Iron is necessary for production of hemoglobin in your
red blood cells. Low iron levels result in fatigue and poor endurance,
since the blood is unable to carry oxygen as efficiently to working
muscles. Another sign that your iron levels are low: feeling chilled
Though losses of this important mineral occur during menstruation
and in a few other small ways, lack of iron in the diet is the most
likely cause of deficiency, as studies show that women distance
runners usually get less than the RDA of 15 milligrams.
The solution is simple: eat more iron-rich foods. The two best
choices are lean red meat and dark poultry, because the form of
iron they contain is easy to absorb. Women often say no thank you
to red meat due to its fat content, but by choosing lean cuts you
can get your iron while still maintaining a low-fat diet. Two good
non-meat sources are lentils and iron-fortified breakfast cereals.
(see list below) Also note: the tannins that are in coffee and tea
block iron uptake from food, so drink these beverages between meals,
not with them.
Checking in with your doctor is best, before turning to supplementation
as your source of iron. Too much iron has its risks. Too large of
amounts can limit the absorption of zinc and may also cause constipation.
You can increase your iron intake with 2 to 4 ounces of lean meat
Some Good Sources Foods Rich in Iron* (Dietary Iron) are:
|List of Grains Rich in Iron:
|Brown rice, 1 cup cooked
|Whole wheat bread, 1 slice
|Wheat germ, 2 tablespoons
|English Muffin, 1 plain
|Oatmeal, 1 cup cooked
|Total cereal, 1 ounce
|Cream of Wheat, 1 cup
|Pita, whole wheat, 1 slice/piece, 6 ½ inch
|Spaghetti, enriched, 1 cup, cooked
|Raisin bran cereal, 1 cup
|List of Iron Rich Legumes, Seeds, and Soy:
|Sunflower seeds, 1 ounce
|Soy milk, 1 cup
|Kidney beans, ½ cup canned
|Chickpeas, ½ cup, canned
|Tofu, firm, ½ cup
|Soy burger, 1 average
||1.8 to 3.9*
|List of Vegetables Rich in Iron:
|Broccoli, ½ cup, boiled
|Green beans, ½ cup, boiled
|Lima beans, baby, frozen, ½ cup, boiled
|Beets, 1 cup
|Peas, ½ cup frozen, boiled
|Potato, fresh baked, cooked w/skin on
|Vegetables, green leafy, ½ cup
|Watermelon, 6 inch x ½ inch slice
|A Sample List of Foods Rich in Iron:
|Blackstrap Molasses, one tablespoon
|Dates or Prunes, ½ cup
|Beef, Pork, Lamb, three ounces
||2.3 to 3.0
|Liver (beef, chicken), three ounces
||8.0 to 25.0
|Clams, Oysters ¾ cup
|Dark meat Turkey ¾ cup
|Pizza, cheese or pepperoni, ½ of 10 inch pie
||4.5 to 5.5
Count Calories When Cutting Fat
Sure there are countless varieties of fat-free and reduced-fat
products but this fat-free frenzy has a downside. Too many people
think that if a food is fat-free they have a license to eat as much
of it as they want. Not true. Remember that Fat-free doesn't = calorie-free.
Fat-free foods are usually loaded with sugar and calories, so gorging
on them will cause weight gain.
Fat-free yummys may also starve you of important vitamins and minerals,
since many fat-free products are refined which means low in key
nutrients. Many are also lower in fat-soluble nutrients such as
vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects against age-related diseases.
Research shows that women who switch to a low-fat diet (less than
30 percent fat calories) often fall below their requirement for
To beat the fat-free nutrition blues and retain your youth, make
sure you're getting several servings of fresh fruits and vegetables
a day. To get your vitamin E, eat plenty of whole grains, and try
to use small amounts of vitamin E-rich oils, such as flax or Udo's
oil on foods after they are cooked and on salads. If you are buying
fat-free foods check food labels for calorie amounts. It's the number
of calories consumed (taken in) verses the number of calories burned
(out) that will result in a healthy body weight and appearance.
Simply put: for weight loss, you need to take in fewer calories
than you burn.