A Teenager’s Nutritional Needs

If you’re worried about your teen getting all the nutrients they need, just provide the same type of diet as you would eat for good nutrition. Notice I didn’t stop at the words you would eat. That’s because many adults don’t have the nutrient dense diet they should have. A teenager’s nutritional needs differ slightly, but one thing that’s different is the amount of calories they require. Boys need approximately 2800 calories each day, which shoots as high as 4,000 if they participate in sports. Girls need approximately 2,200 calories a day that increases up to 3,000 when they’re in sports. Adult women only require about 2,000 calories with adult men requiring 2,500.

Make sure they get plenty of calcium, but it doesn’t have to come from milk.

I won’t get into all the studies that are controversial, debating whether drinking milk is good for you or not. Some say it increases the potential for early mortality if more than a glass a day is consumed. Others say it’s quite healthy. One thing is certain, after a child is weaned, the potential for lactose intolerance increases and affects a large portion of the US. There are other ways to get your calcium and ensure your teen gets it. Almonds, beans and lentils, broccoli and dark leafy greens contain it, too.

Protein is extremely important.

Just like adults, teens need protein. Male teens and teens in athletics need more protein per pound of body weight than adults because they’re growing and developing muscle tissue, while adults are simply maintaining muscle tissue. Just like adults, teen diets should contain approximately 10 to 30 percent of the calories from protein. Since the caloric intake is higher for teens, more protein is required. The protein can come from fish, dairy, eggs, poultry, meat or vegetarian options like, lentils, chickpeas, most types of beans and Tofu.

Don’t forget plenty of servings of fresh fruit and vegetables.

You can cook those veggies or serve them raw, however, make sure you provide a colorful plate with many different colors of veggies to ensure your teen gets all the nutrients necessary for a healthy life. The recommended amount is five servings of different types of fruit and vegetables. Another way of saying it is Don’t forget healthy fat. The brain needs fat to operate at its peak, so does the rest of the body. It’s filling, so your teens won’t overeat or reach for snack foods.

  • Teach your teen to make smarter choices when it comes to food, such as whole grain bread or choosing brown or wild rice instead of white rice for more nutrients and lower calories.
  • If choosing yogurt for a teen’s diet, choose the regular yogurt over the low fat yogurt. It helps boost the feeling of fullness and was found to help people lose weight.
  • Avoid serving foods high in sugar and fried foods. Nobody needs extra sugar in their diet and nobody needs deep fried Twinkies, pickles or fries.

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