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Nutrition Needs for Boys & Men

Boys and men require proper nutrition to stay healthy and maintain an ideal body weight. However, Weight-control Information Network reports that about 74 percent of men and 33 percent of boys in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Making calories count by choosing nutrient-dense foods can help keep boys and men healthy, control their body weight and optimize growth and development.


Getting the right number of calories each day will help boys and men avoid malnutrition and obesity. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggest men need 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day, boys ages 4 through 8 need 1,200 to 2,000 calories, boys ages 9 to 13 require 1,600 to 2,600 calories and teen boys ages 14 to 18 need 2,000 to 3,200 calories each day. Individualized calorie needs for men and boys are based on their size and physical activity level.


Protein is essential for proper growth and development in boys, and helps boys and men build, maintain and repair lean muscle mass. According to the Institute of Medicine, the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for protein is 19 grams for boys ages 4 to 8, 34 grams for boys ages 9 to 13, 52 grams for teen boys ages 14 to 18 and 56 grams of protein each day for men. For most boys and men, protein RDAs should be treated as minimum daily requirements, especially for those who are physically active. A review published in a 2010 edition of “Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care” reports that actual protein needs may be significantly higher than current RDAs suggest. Protein-rich foods include lean meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, low-fat dairy foods, soy products, legumes, seeds and nuts.


The Institute of Medicine recommends men and boys consume at least 130 grams of carbs each day, or 45 to 65 percent of their daily calories from carbs. This means eating 225 to 325 grams of carbs per day for men and boys requiring 2,000 calories daily. Examples of foods that contain healthy carbs are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, low-fat milk and low-fat yogurt.


Fat is crucial for brain development in boys, helps with vitamin absorption and is an important source of energy and satiety for boys and men. According to the Institute of Medicine, fat should make up 25 to 35 percent of the calorie intake of boys ages 4 to 18, and 20 to 35 percent of a man's daily calorie intake. Since fat provides 9 calories per gram, 30 percent of a 2,000-calorie diet is about 67 grams of fat per day. Examples of nutritious fats include nuts, seeds, peanut butter, plant-based oils, fish oils, avocados and olives.

Vitamins and Minerals

Eating a variety of healthy proteins, carbs and fat will help ensure boys and men get the vitamins and minerals they need each day. However, since vitamins and minerals are so crucial for proper growth and cognitive development in children and teens, according to Linus Pauling Institute, supplementation may be necessary to ensure their nutrient needs are met daily. Important micronutrients for boys and men include iron, calcium, vitamin B-6 and vitamin D. Vitamin C is also important for boys and men; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that males have an increased risk for vitamin C deficiency.

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