It’s complicated. If you’re a woman, you don’t know. But it’s definitely not zero.
In the past, many doctors and nutrition researchers thought calories would be the most important part of any healthy lifestyle, but no matter what they did, the weight of evidence came back the same: people don’t get enough nutrition.
Now, it’s becoming the consensus that women, who account for 70 percent of the obese population, need to get more protein, less saturated fat and other dietary essentials, because without these nutrients men and women lose weight.
Some health experts believe that women are naturally heavier than men, and if they ate enough food in an effort to lose weight, they’d lose less weight. But now there’s increasing evidence that says that’s just not so.
“The notion that some people just simply aren’t meant to get fat is not that uncommon,” said Dr. Mark Mattson, the chief of the division of dietetics at the Yale School of Medicine. “But what’s interesting is that in many cases, people who are heavier are overweight. And some people are getting really sick.”
That’s because as fatty foods are consumed, people don’t just lose weight; sometimes they get sick.
But there are still a lot of unanswered questions about women’s weight and nutrition. Here are some of the top concerns being studied and being tackled by researchers.
What is too much?
Some new research shows that women need to eat about 1,500 calories — about 1,240 calories per pound of weight — a day for muscle and bone to grow, according to the Mayo Clinic. That’s far more than men.
Why women need a high-calorie intake? Weight management experts believe it’s because of the hormonal changes during pregnancy. Maternal estrogen can lower protein levels and muscle mass. But when a woman gets pregnant, these hormone changes may go away because she’s heavier.
The hormone progesterone also may play a role, since it can prevent muscles from getting too loose. Progesterone seems to help protect the uterine lining from infection while allowing the ovaries to start production of estrogen, which makes muscle bigger.
So do women need to eat that many calories?
Doctors don’t know. Many experts believe that women need to be able to lose weight. “But in a world in which it is possible, there’s no reason not to focus on the needs of the larger portion of the
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