Proper nutrition for boys and girls varies due to differences in body structure, size, and physical needs. The problem that often arises is determining the main differences between growing children and therefore creating a diet plan that works best for nutritional needs. While many know that girls need more nutrients like iron and calcium, confusion often arises when it comes to the right amount of protein.
When children are between the first years and seven years, the protein requirements are approximately the same for boys and girls. During the first years of life, children have similar nutritional needs because their growth rate is similar. Boys at this age do not have the testosterone levels that come with older age groups and therefore their muscle growth is similar to that of a girl of the same age.
Young children who are not yet in puberty will need plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein for healthy growth. This applies to both boys and girls, so parents should strive to ensure that their children receive a variety of foods for proper nutrition.
Boys and girls generally begin to have rapid physical growth and development from the age of eight to nine. This is when boys and girls will start to have different nutritional needs. In particular, boys will need more protein to keep up with the rapid development of muscle and skeletal structures, while girls will generally need more calcium and iron to balance menstrual cycles.
Around the age of eight, parents should ensure that children get a little more protein in their diet. This does not necessarily mean adding more meat, which could be higher in fat. Instead, parents should consider adding beans, eggs, brown rice, and nuts to the diet. Girls will need slightly lower amounts of protein because they do not have the same muscle growth as boys during puberty.
Late teenage years:
During the late teens, boys will continue to need more protein than girls for adequate nutritional value. When children are around 14 years old, they will need more calories to support changes in physical activity, growth, and physical development. This means that boys will need more protein than their younger years, and girls will generally need more iron.
Protein levels during adulthood vary between individuals, but most men will need slightly more protein than women. On average, women will need about 46 grams of protein, while men will need about 56 grams.
While these overall numbers are a good average, other factors influence how much protein the body needs. Physically active adults who often exercise or athletes will need more protein due to the level of activity. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding will also need higher levels of protein to adequately supply nutrients to the baby and produce milk.
While a wide range of factors are involved in the right amount of protein for proper nutrition, children generally need slightly higher levels to support muscle growth. Girls will need less protein due to less muscle mass.