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Knowing how many calories you need is mostly based on body size and exercise level for both men and women. For example, moderately active men or women who weigh 150 pounds need about 2400 calories a day to maintain their weight.
Male and female bodies are the same in that they only lose weight if they burn more calories than they eat. With positive lifestyle changes, both men and women can achieve lasting weight loss.
Still, it takes more than simply adjusting calorie intake to get into healthy shape. In fact, there are some big differences between men and women when it comes to the foods they need to eat.
Fill up with fiber. Most Americans fall behind on their daily fiber intake. Women need 21 to 25 grams per day, but usually eat only 13 grams. Men average 17 grams per day, but they should aim for 30 to 38 grams.
How can men bulk up on their fiber intake?
Milk it. Men need less calcium than women. For men, excess calcium may even lead to a higher risk for prostate cancer. That doesn’t mean men should abandon dairy, though. It just means men should eat and drink dairy in moderation. About 800 mg of calcium a day is the sweet spot for men ages 19 to 70. Eight ounces of low-fat fruit yogurt contains around 345 mg of calcium, while one cup of skim milk has about 306 mg of calcium.
The pros of protein. Proteins are a good source of amino acids, which help the body to rebuild the specific proteins it needs. Getting a daily supply of protein is key, because the body doesn’t store amino acids.
Protein should make up at least 15% of men’s daily calories. On average, that’s about 60 grams of protein a day. That’s equal to about 8 ounces of chicken or 6 ounces of canned tuna. One egg has 6.29 grams of grams of protein, depending on the size of the yolk. Endurance athletes, people doing strength training and people with special medical conditions may need more protein each day.
Iron man. Despite the fact that so many men love iron-rich meat, men actually need less iron than women. Men should aim for 8 mg of iron a day, while women need 18 mg a day. Men should avoid excess iron.
A 3-ounce serving of beef has between 10-24% of the recommended daily allowance of iron, depending on the cut and preparation. Proteins like poultry, fish and red meats contain ‘heme’ iron. This type of iron is more easily absorbed by the body than other types.
Plant-based iron sources and egg yolks contain non-heme iron. This type of iron is not absorbed as efficiently as heme iron. But you can boost your body’s ability to absorb iron from the non-heme foods by eating them with foods that are high in vitamin C, like strawberries, melons, mangos and citrus.
Are you getting your nutrients in? Tell us how in the comments!
Originally published 6/4/2015; Revised 2019, 2022
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