Hi, I’m Amy. Lover of Lifting, Reading, Eating & all things Science or Health Based.
You can generally catch me ordering a Steak at a restaurant or chowing down on a Burger
on a high Calorie Day. Whilst my Female Friends will be drooling over the latest Acai bowl,
Chocolate or Pancake stack, I find myself unable to relate being more of an Umami or
Being Curious, I sometimes ponder to myself - Am I a unicorn? Or am I broken? What is both
the health impact & the basis of craving savour or sweet food? Does a Gender Bias exist? Is
one Gender more predisposed to illness, disease or non-communicable disease over the
other based on social or biological influence?
It is interesting to note that Gender is a socially produced term, not a biological one (1). That
being said, there is a shift of taste buds from Males to Females. Men and women tend to
crave different kinds of foods. Several studies have shown that men report more craving for
savoury foods (e.g., meat, fish, eggs), whereas women report more craving for sweet foods
(e.g., chocolate, pastries, ice cream; Further, men may crave different types of sweets than
women do (e.g., sugar-sweetened beverages, but not chocolate. Consistently, a few studies
have shown that more than 92 percent of those who experience strong cravings for
chocolate are female.
We know that men & women are generally treated differently. We take boys to be more
masculine & women to be more feminine, but this is not always the case. Men are
stereotyped as consuming greater amounts of protein & fat specifically from meat, whereas
Women as eating more fruits & vegetables with a higher correlation to vegetarianism. We
can see this in the marketing of food. Company’s understand this gender specific
predisposition to cravings & how to leverage it in a way to create the greatest amount of
demand or sales possible.
In Australia 65% of Females have sole responsibility of food over Men. The Women perform
more of a feeding role within the family dynamic. This was according to a 2004 study by
Wardle et al. On top of that, a 2011/2013 Australian Health survey revealed that 73% of
females do not achieve daily calcium RDI’s of 1000mg & 23% do not achieve sufficient iron
The Atkins diet was actually ground-breaking in that it allowed men to lose weight without
losing Masculinity as it was predominantly based around eating protein in a caloric deficit.
We see Media advertisements for Men based around Beer, Burgers (Whoppers) & Meat yet,
for Women see Vitamin Waters, Yoghurts & Aesthetically pleasing Fruit Smoothies or Acai
According to Cavazza et al 2005 studies (2), food type, portion size & dish presentation
greatly differ from Male to Female. Female meals are stereotyped as smaller, lower fat, low
carb & generally prettier. Because of this Men may not eat adequate amounts of fruits & vegetables and women may not consume enough fats for hormonal health (minimum .8g
per kilo of body weight) or Protein. We need adequate protein to facilitate transportation of
micronutrients &/or waste products throughout our blood stream and to perform muscle
protein synthesis. This is also evident in African Children who do not receive enough protein
and have distended belly’s due to an albumin (Amino Acid) deficiency.
Proteins are the basic compounds of all living cells. They act as: Enzymes (to catalyse
chemical reactions), Hormones (that regulate body Function), Storage Proteins (essential
substances on demand), Transport Proteins (carry substances through body fluids ie:
Albumin), Structural Proteins (Support & Maintain Shape of Cell), Protective Proteins
(Protect the Body from Foreign Matter), Contractile Proteins (for Mechanical Work).
An inadequate consumption of protein will affect our body’s ability to detoxify (which
includes fat loss efficiency), facilitate an immune response to invading pathogens, create
optimal neurotransmitters, Obtain Quality Sleep, Create Digestive Health including a
structurally sound Gut lining and avoid oxidative stress conducive to the ageing process.
The absence of Essential Fats within a diet puts Women at risk of suboptimal hormonal
health. Fat is both important for insulation & to cushion our organs. It also acts as an
endocrine gland which houses important hormones such as Leptin, which is needed for
Satiety and to regulate metabolic homeostasis.
Though often demonized, saturated fat is needed for the structure, stiffness & integrity of
cell membranes, making up 50% of the membrane. It plays a vital role in the health of bones
& is necessary for calcium to be effectively incorporated into the skeletal structure. They
not only enhance the immune system but help to protect the liver from Alcohol and other
toxins. Our monounsaturated fats are those associated with decreasing cardiovascular
disease risk, reducing inflammation or blood clotting & regulating blood pressure. Important
Antioxidants like Vitamin E are abundant in Monounsaturated Fats. Restriction of essential
fat intake therefore is counterproductive to the health of females.
Now, on to our Men…
Hydrogenated or Trans fats that are detrimental to health or excess sodium are higher in
well marketed ‘Masculine foods’ such as Pies, Pizzas & Burgers. Trans Fats are man-made &
should be avoided 110% of the time. Not only do they negatively affect cholesterol levels
but they alter cell membranes to a point that they can no longer function effectively.
Membranes become rigid with poor cellular communication. These fats, are synthetically
produced in an attempt to reduce saturated fat intake & improve shelf life of packaged
foods. The body has difficulty utilizing them due to their foreign structure. To spot a Trans
Fat on a Nutritional label you want to look for any fat (lipid) substance that includes the
word ‘Hydrogenated’ or ‘Partially hydrogenated’. You also want to avoid products that do
not identify the type of oil used i.e. if it simply states ‘Vegetable Oil’ rather than specifying a
specific type. Packaged Products are made with Palatability & Sales in mind, not health.
A lack of colourful fruit & vegetables in Male diets also leaves Men open to Micronutrient
deficiencies. Vitamins and Carotenoids are key micronutrients facilitating the maintenance
of health, as evidenced by the increased risk of disease with low intake (3). Fruit & vegetable
intake is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer & all-cause
mortality (see study 4). A 2011/2013 Australian Health survey revealed that 35% of
Australian’s daily intake comes from discretionary foods such as cakes, biscuits and pies.
Only 6% of us hit our requirements of vegetable intake and only 52% for fruit intake.
We want to aim to consume a minimum of 1.4-2 grams of Protein per Kilo of Body Weight
depending on the individuals & the goals they possess. We want to aim for 5 serves of
Vegetables & 2 serves of fruit per day with our fibre intake at 12-15g per 1000 calories
consumed. Be sure to consume 1ml of water per calorie consumed. This does not include
water lost during dehydrative processes such as sleeping, training or heated environmental
I hope this helps on your journey to better health & a greater quality of life!
In light of the recent International Women’s Day, let me end by saying: Saturday is For The
Boys – Saturday is For the Girls – Saturday is for Equality of the Sexes ;) Here’s to better
Health & Education for all.
Listed below are the sources for statistics contained in this blog.
(1) The Social Construct of Gender:
Source: Mooney .K.M. & Lorenz E 1997 ‘The effects of food & Gender on interpersonal
perceptions. Sex Roles: https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1997-05180-007
Bently ‘The other Atkins revolution: Atkins & the shifting culture of dieting.
(2) Ruby M.B and Heine S.J. (2011) Meat, Morals & Masculine Appetite:
(3): The Impact of Micronutrient status on health: Correlation network analysis to
understand the role of micronutrients in metabolic-inflammatory processes regulating
homeostasis and phenotypic flexibility:
(4) Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-
cause mortality—a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective
(5) Gender-related Differences in Food Craving and Obesity:
(6) Discretionary Food Intake:
(7) Calcium Intakes: