Different people have different nutritional needs — that’s why that one diet posted by your favorite influencer on TikTok may have led to amazing results for your friend but did absolutely nothing for you. 

The truth is, there is no “one-size-fits-all” way of eating that will meet every single person’s unique nutritional requirements. Many factors can impact a person’s dietary needs — from where they are in their reproductive lifecycle to whether they are hoping to lose (or gain) weight. 

Nutrition is less about what you feel like you “should” be eating, and more about finding what works for your body. So, how can you pinpoint what will make you feel your best? Let’s dive in. 

woman eating veggies and using a nutrient tracker app

When it comes to nutrition, everyone’s body is different

While there are, of course, some fundamental aspects of nutrition that apply to all humans — like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. — there are factors like age, gender, and medical history that can have an impact on how much (and what) you should be eating.


Gender, for one, plays a significant role in determining a person’s dietary needs at a basic level. Men typically require more calories per day than women due to a higher ratio of muscle mass and a faster metabolic rate, while women often require increased levels of specific nutrients, such as iron and calcium. For women, iron is vital to compensate for blood loss during menstruation, and calcium is particularly essential for post-menopausal women due to an increased risk of osteoporosis. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can adjust a woman's nutritional requirements even more, emphasizing the need for additional nutrients like folic acid and vitamin B12.   

Medical history

When it comes to what a person should (and shouldn’t) be putting in their body, certain medical conditions demand specialized diets to manage symptoms and promote overall health. For example, individuals with celiac disease must adhere to a strict gluten-free diet, because, when consumed, gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye – can damage their small intestine, leading to digestive issues, nutritional deficiencies, and a whole host of other complications. 

Similarly, those with food allergies or sensitivities must eliminate specific allergens (think peanuts, eggs, or shellfish) from their diet to avoid reactions, while those with heart conditions are often advised to follow a diet low in sodium, saturated fats, and cholesterol to prevent further complications down the road. 

woman baking salmon

Physical activity 

This one may seem obvious, but physical activity plays a big part in a person’s dietary needs, as it directly impacts energy expenditure and nutrient usage in the body. Regular exercise increases the body's overall energy requirements, which is why physically active individuals typically require a higher caloric intake compared to those who lead a sedentary lifestyle to fuel their activities and aid in recovery. 

Nutrient needs also vary according to the type and intensity of physical activity. For example, endurance athletes may require a diet rich in carbohydrates to provide a steady energy source, while strength athletes might need a higher protein intake to support muscle growth and repair. On the flip side, those who don’t live an active lifestyle may require fewer calories per day. 

Hydration requirements also increase with physical activity due to fluid loss through sweat. While eating nutritious foods throughout the day is typically enough to keep your body’s electrolyte levels in check, if you’ve done a particularly long and hard workout or you have sweat a lot, electrolyte supplements can help balance your blood sodium levels as you work to rehydrate. 

runner sitting on the track drinking water

How to eat for your body

So, now that you know what genetic and lifestyle factors can affect your unique nutritional requirements, you may be wondering how you can better understand how to fuel your body with exactly what it needs. 

Speak with a healthcare provider

Consulting with a healthcare professional such as a doctor or Registered Dietitian is a highly effective and recommended approach to understanding and meeting your personal nutrition needs. These experts possess the knowledge and experience to provide tailored dietary advice based on your unique circumstances, including your age, gender, level of physical activity, test results, and any medical conditions or health goals you may have. 

They can guide you in making informed and appropriate food choices, help you understand the nutritional content of different foods, and educate you on the impact of diet on your overall health. Further, they can develop a personalized nutrition plan that takes into account your dietary preferences and lifestyle, making it easier to adhere to and making your journey toward better health more enjoyable and sustainable. “Fad” diets, be gone! 

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Track your intake

Tracking your intake, specifically your macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), can not only help ensure that you are meeting your basic nutritional needs but can help to pinpoint that perfect balance that supports your body the best. If you want your body functioning top-notch, you need to be getting the right nutrients!

By keeping an eye on your nutrition through a health data tracking app like Cronometer, you may discover nutrient deficiencies you would have otherwise missed. For example, iron or magnesium deficiencies can cause symptoms like gut problems, low energy, brain fog, poor sleep quality, and more.

Once you’ve established a baseline and are confident that you’re getting enough calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals, you can start tracking biometrics in Cronometer like stool, sleep, and energy level to see how your diet is working with or against your body. You can even connect to devices like Oura and WHOOP so your data is automatically synced into your account! 

woman inputting her coffee in a nutrient tracker

Go with your gut

Literally and figuratively. Are the foods you’re eating making you feel good? How are your energy levels? Are you pooping more than usual? Is your pee bright yellow, or are you adequately hydrated? Asking yourself these kinds of questions can help you figure out which foods to avoid vs. which ones to keep in your diet. Because who doesn’t want to feel peak performance? 

The bottom line? While it’s true that all of us require enough calories, adequate intake of certain micronutrients, and proper hydration, no two bodies are the same. From a higher protein diet for those prioritizing strength training to a diet rich in healthy fats to support happy hormones, many dietary patterns can help people achieve a healthier lifestyle. You just need to figure out what fills your cup, and download the Cronometer app (it’s free!).

Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, is an award-winning fertility registered dietitian with over 20 years of experience. She is a three-time author, freelance writer, and consultant. Her book, Fueling Male Fertility, has helped countless men who are trying to conceive make evidence-based nutrition decisions that support their fertility. She also manages the Instagram account @LaurenLovesNutrition, where she shares evidence-based fertility and pregnancy-focused nutrition information. Lauren and her husband, Matt, conceived their daughter after a 5-year fertility journey, which included three rounds of IVF. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina, and is enjoying life in the Lowcountry with her little family.