Do Boys Need More Protein?
Recommended dietary allowances, or RDAs, for protein are the same for boys and girls until age14, but teenage boys require more protein than teen girls. However, individualized protein needs are based on body weight. Since boys usually weigh more than girls, they may need slightly more protein, even those younger than age 14. Eating a variety of high-protein foods, such as lean meats, poultry, eggs, dairy products, soy products, legumes, nuts and seeds will help boys meet their protein needs.
Ages 1 to 13
Protein RDAs for kids ages 1 to 13 are based on age, not gender. RDAs are 13 grams of protein for children ages 1 to 3, 16 grams for kids ages 4 to 8 and 34 grams of protein each day for boys and girls ages 9 to 13, according to the Institute of Medicine. RDAs are estimated to meet the needs of almost all children in each age category.
Ages 14 to 18
RDAs are 46 grams of protein per day for girls ages 14 to 18, and 52 grams of protein each day for boys within the same age range. A main reason teen boys need more protein than teenage girls is because they are generally larger and have more lean muscle mass.
Grams per Pound
To help determine a child’s specific protein needs, you can use his body weight. The Institute of Medicine estimates protein needs for kids by using 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight for children ages 1 to 3, 0.43 grams of protein per pound for kids ages 4 to 13 and 0.39 grams of protein per pound of body weight for teens ages 14 to 18. According to the 2008 National Health Statistics Reports, an average 6-year-old boy in the United States weighs 53.3 pounds, while the average U.S. 6-year-old girl weighs 51.5 pounds. Based on this information and using the Institute of Medicine guidelines, an average 6-year-old boy in the U.S. needs at least 23 grams of protein, and an average 6-year-old U.S. girl requires at least 22 grams of protein each day.
Children who are very active, going through a growth spurt or recovering from a traumatic injury or surgery likely need more protein than RDAs indicate. A study published in a 2011 edition of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that actual protein needs of school-age children may be higher than current recommendations, including RDAs, set by the Institute of Medicine. Therefore, RDAs should be treated as minimum protein requirements for boys and girls.
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