Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD
Last Updated on:
Men are from Mars and women are from Venus – and we can add nutritional differences to the list of things that are different about men and women. This Father’s Day, let’s look at the specific nutritional needs of the men in your life.
Specific Nutritional Needs for Men
Men weigh more and have more lean muscle mass and more circulating blood cells. Hence, men need more calories. The average man has 50 more pounds of lean muscle mass than the average woman. This alone accounts for a difference of 500 calories needed per day! To calculate your calorie needs, use our calorie calculator.
Because they have more muscle mass, men generally need more protein than women. The average requirement is calculated based on 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight. For instance, a 170 lb (77 kg) man will need to eat up to 62 grams of protein per day. Increased protein needs in men don’t necessarily mean they need to eat more meat. Protein requirements can also be met using plant-based protein foods, like nuts, seeds, lentils and whole grains.
Men require more fiber, mainly due to increased calorie intake and because it offers potential protection against heart disease. Men under 50 years of age need 38 grams of fiber per day, and those over 50 require 30 grams of fiber.
Men need just half the iron that women require. Studies conducted in the ’80s found that high iron stores in men were associated with increased risk of heart attacks. Don’t worry, it is difficult to overdose on iron from food alone. However, you should pay attention to the multivitamin supplements you’re taking. Due to the big difference in iron requirements, you should always choose a gender-appropriate formula. In other words, your multivitamin supplement bottle should specify that it is formulated for men’s use.
Many multivitamin supplements for men have some kind of claim about their selenium content. This gives the impression that selenium is more important for men, and that men need more. This is just a myth. The selenium requirement for men is exactly the same as that for women. It is true that selenium may help prevent some cancers more prevalent in men, such as prostate, lung, colorectal, gastric, and so on. But since selenium deficiency is quite rare, there is no advantage in taking more of it. Brazil nuts and seafood are the best food sources of selenium.
Men’s increased liquid needs are mainly due to increased calorie intake. Depending on climate and physical activity, an average man needs about 10 cups of water per day.
Gloria Tsang is the author of 5 books and the founder of HealthCastle.com, the largest online nutrition network run by registered dietitians. Her work has appeared in major national publications, and she is a regularly featured nutrition expert for media outlets across the country. The Huffington Post named her one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter. Gloria’s articles have appeared on various media such as Reuters, NBC & ABC affiliates, The Chicago Sun-Times, Reader’s Digest Canada, iVillage and USA Today.