It’s no secret that kids are constantly growing and need plenty of healthy food in their diets. But what about teenagers? Many of them haven’t reached their full height, so what do they need? How about the teens who are full grown? Do their nutritional needs change as their vertical growth stops? Here is what you need to know to keep your teens well fed and healthy.
During adolescence, the body demands more calories than any other time of life. As the body rapidly grows, more calories are needed to keep the system running. It’s no wonder kids usually have an increase in appetite around the age of ten as they prepare for future growth. In general, teenage boys require around 2,800 calories per day, and teenage girls require around 2,200 calories per day. Those who are more physically active will need more calories, even after they finish growing.
Nutrients are divided into three categories, all of which are important for a wall balanced diet. These include protein, fats and carbohydrates. Although each type provides energy for the body, some provide more than others per gram. Nearly half of our body weight is comprised of protein, which is why it’s so important. However, most US teenagers eat twice as much protein as they need.
Carbohydrates turn into glucose, also known as simple sugar, and are usually the main fuel for the body. There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates break down quickly, providing instant energy that doesn’t last very long. Complex carbohydrates take longer to break down and provide sustained energy. They also contain fiber which makes you feel full longer. It’s recommended that at least 50% of a teen’s food intake come from complex carbohydrates.
Fat is essential for absorbing vitamins and minerals, but should be consumed with caution. No more than 30% of a teenager’s diet should come from fat. Fatty foods usually contain cholesterol, which can clot up arteries and veins, leading to heart problem. Whenever possible, choose plant based fats from things like nuts or avocados.
Vitamins & Minerals
There are a variety of essential vitamins and minerals that every body needs in order to function properly. This is especially important for growing bodies. The best way to accomplish this is by eating a large variety of fruits and vegetables. The more plant based foods the better.