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Nutrition for Teens

Discussion in 'Nutrition & Supplements' started by phillydude, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. phillydude

    phillydude Don't Never Give Up.

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    I've been looking for solid research on nutrition for teens, particularly as it relates to fitness, and have been finding little that's not the typical "mainstream" advice that's either not specifically tailored to teens or that isn't the usual "bad" advice that you find all over the web.

    From the articles I DID find, it's looking like a teenaged boy should consume 2300-2500 calories a day with a 45c-35p-20f ratio, or use 3-4g carbs and 1g protein per pound of body weight to determine the numbers.

    This gives me a wide margin between the two formulas. Based on 2500 calories a day for a 135lb teen, here are the numbers:

    With 3g carbs and 1g protein per pound of body weight: 405g carbs, 135g protein, and 38g fat.

    With a 45c-25p-20f split: 281g carbs, 218g protein, 55g fat.

    I think that with example A, the fat is low. And I think with example B, the protein is high.

    Any thoughts?
     
    #1 phillydude, Aug 28, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012
  2. Robert2006

    Robert2006 Active Member

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  3. Robert2006

    Robert2006 Active Member

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  4. phillydude

    phillydude Don't Never Give Up.

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    Thanks for the links.

    In the information referenced above (page 2 of the pdf, page 22 of the document), a 9-13 year old is listed at 2279 calories and a 14-18 year old is 3152 calories. Taking an average of those (my son is 13) would be 2715 calories. He's looking to lose a little weight, so I rounded down to 2500 to come up with my estimate.

    Strange numbers in that chart, however... for the 2279 calorie 9-13 guideline, it recommends 130g of carbs and 34g of protein a day. At 4 calories for each, that would be 520 calories from carbs and 136 calories from protein. That leaves 1623 calories from fat, which would be 180 grams of fat per day (factor of 9). That doesn't seem right.

    Further down in the document (page 22, PDF page 7, it recommends 11-14 year old boys get 2500 calories a day, with 45g of protein. That page recommends "more than 50% carbohydrates and less than 30% fat" which would leave 20% for protein. That would be 312g carbs, 125g protein, and 83g of fat at a 50-20-30 ratio, or three times as much protein as recommended in the table.

    Adjusting that last set of numbers to 1g protein per pound of body weight (and taking the difference out of the fat) gives us 312g carbs, 135g protein, and 78g fat.
     
    #4 phillydude, Aug 28, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012
  5. Robert2006

    Robert2006 Active Member

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    The second link has calorie targets by height

    For 13 year old 15.9 calories per cm of height or 40.4 per inch. But those numbers are for light activity levels. That's borderline sedentary.

    Those numbers for carb and protein aren't max targets but min levels. The child needs at least that many.

    The closest I see to a suggestion on macros is 50% carb 30%fat. I guess that leaves 20% protein. But you could drop the fat level and still get all the need fat.
     
  6. phillydude

    phillydude Don't Never Give Up.

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    Appreciate the feedback... looks like I was editing while you posted.

    I'm leaning toward the 2500 calorie number, with a 55-20-25 split.

    That would put him around 345g carbs, 125g protein, and 70g fat.
     
    #6 phillydude, Aug 28, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012
  7. guava

    guava Elite Member
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    Your 13 year old eats what you tell him to eat? Impressive.

    Unless he's a professional athlete, or unless he really likes going by the numbers instead of trusting his own gut, I don't see the benefit in micromanaging his macro-nutrients. I would rather teach a teen to learn how to select a diet that results in a good balance of micro-nutrients, to learn how to feel the difference between hunger and appetite, and to experiment with different foods to see how well they satisfy his appetite.

    Has he tried the Food Advisor?

    Keep in mind that in general, nutrition advice for adults tends to recommend a higher proportion of calories from carbohydrates than what many people personally find satisfying or effective to meet their goals, so it's not surprising that advice for teens would follow a similar trend. One of the reasons they may do this is because your average carbohydrate has greater nutrient density than your average fatty or protein rich food. You have better odds of eating more healthier foods if you limit the amount of Big Macs you eat. Another reason is that protein can be prohibitively expensive.

    But, sure, 2500 calories, with a 55-20-25 split sounds like a decent starting point.
     
  8. Robert2006

    Robert2006 Active Member

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    I don't think the reason carbs are pushed for teenagers is this.

    It starts out by limiting the amount of fat. The amount of protein isn't really tied to total calories. In other words if a kid eats 3000 calories he doesn't need more protein then 2000 or less then 4000.

    So if you limit the fat and have a floor for protein then the only thing left free is the carb intake. If you're on a low calorie diet you cut the carbs. If you're on a high calorie diet you eat more.
     
  9. phillydude

    phillydude Don't Never Give Up.

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    It's the other way around right now... he's telling ME what he wants to eat. This summer was a big step for him, as he participated in several events which required him to "test his mettle": A two-day, 60 mile bike ride; a week of rowing camp; and ten days at Outward Bound, hiking and canoeing. While he was never a really athletic kid (and still doesn't have much enthusiasm for team sports), he seems to like the challenges of man against nature and man against himself.

    Anyway, he saw that his body changed from being a little chubby to being a little more toned, and just as importantly, he saw peers who were much more fit than he is. For example, when he was rowing, there was another kid his age who had a more muscular physique, including "six pack" abs. In telling me about this, he mentioned that "all that kid ate for lunch every day was yogurt and an apple," while his own lunch was a sandwich, chips, and cookies.

    So he's made the connection between what you eat and how you look, and he's starting to embrace exercise as the means to an end result. I bought him a rowing machine last week, and he's used it every day (several times a day for short fifteen minute workouts) without being prompted to do so. And my wife handed me a cheat sheet he's been keeping (of his own accord) with what he's eating each day, and how many calories it has.

    That's exactly what we are doing, in a way... I'm working up the numbers so we both know approximately what each meal should look like nutritionally, and then we are going to work together to find the foods that satisfy his tastes and appetite while staying within those parameters. I know he doesn't want to be the kid that's eating bean sprouts and tofu scrambles at the school lunch table, but he needs to see that you can eat "healthy" and still have room for other things too. His initial comment to me was "Wow... that seems like a lot of food" when I told him I was planning four meals per day plus a protein shake for after he works out.

    That's why I prefaced my initial comment with the difficulty in finding SOLID nutritional advice for teens. Most of the articles I read focused on the traditional "food pyramid" way of thinking, where carbs are the foundation of every meal and protein is considered an afterthought. And they were filled with the same advice that is obvious to people who have some knowledge of nutrition: Cut down on fried foods. Avoid sweets. Drink water. Duh.

    Two things jumped out at me from the article you referenced earlier (bold is my emphasis):

    1) The top 10 sources of energy among teens were milk, breads, cakes/cookies/donuts, beef, cereal, soft drinks, cheese, chips, sugar, and chicken.

    2) National data suggest that on average, teens consume about twice the recommended level of protein.

    The last one surprised me most of all... but in looking at the RDA of 45g a day for 11-14 year olds, that number seems ridiculously low. A 6" Subway turkey/ham sandwich has about 20g of protein, and an Egg McMuffin has 18g. Add two 8oz servings of milk (8g each) and you are at 54g already... before dinner.
     
    #9 phillydude, Aug 30, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2012
  10. guava

    guava Elite Member
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    What I meant is that there's no proven scientific reason why you should limit the fat and have a floor for protein. If you target to get the RDAs of vitamins and minerals, the calories in excess of that aren't any healthier if they're from pasta or rice or yogurt or cherries than if they're from chicken or coconuts or avocado.
     
  11. Zilla

    Zilla Well-Known Member

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    I don't have much to add in terms of the nutrition side of things. My son is a few years older than yours ( he'll be 16 this year) and according to his doctor this past June, he's fat. :rolleyes:

    He's 6 feet tall, around 120 pounds and doesn't have a gut. The reason his doctor said he's fat was because his doctor still uses the stupid BMI charts that have yet to be tossed in a pile and burned.

    With that being said, if your son is taking a intrerest in nurtrition, make him part of the process. Since your son is 13, he still has growing to do which means wanting more food during growth spurts.

    Speaking from my own experience, The Boy normally eats like a bird ( he'd rather graze throughout the day than sit and eat a full meal) but when a growth spurt hits, he eats everything he can get his hands on. We don't keep junkfood in the house so there isn't a issue in that regard, but he's been known to suck down a gallon of milk in a day, his cereal bowl in the morning becomes larger than normal, ect. Once the spurt passes, we actually have food in the house again. It's also during these times that he often complains about muscle aches and headaches when normally he doesn't complain about either of these things. Headaches come with allergy season, but when it's not his problem season (spring) such complaints corrolate with growth.

    Another thing to keep in mind is what he's being taught about nutrition in school. I don't know about where you are, but nutrition programs here are the worst. Corn dogs are considered healthy eats. :blank:

    The Boy will be a freshman at our vo-tech this year which is awesome school, so we'll see what they have to say about nutrition. They've impressed me with everything I've seen thus so far, so I don't think they're going to disappoint. It's a small school with a no BS policy, unlike the regular highschool which is nothing more than Romper Room for teens.

    As for students comparing themselves to others, this new school encourages healthy competition, but they also teach that some students are better at certain things than others, which IMO is what should be taught and explained. A student that has a interest in cooking isn't going to do well/ be happy in autobody shop.

    Hubby and I have been working on this issue for the past several years and it's only now starting to sink in. We encourage The Boy to be himself and do he things he enjoys versus what his friends think is the cool thing to do at the moment as many of them live by the moment.

    This post has gotten way longer than I intended, but I wanted to toss my support into the proverbial pot. It's hard enough being a parent to a teen and any support one can get helps.
     
  12. phillydude

    phillydude Don't Never Give Up.

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    That gets back to some of my initial frustration about the information I was able to find. We can go back and forth about the BMI issue, or the amount of carbs in "recommended" daily diet (whether that's MyPlate or the Food Pyramid or whatever the government wants to call it), or just how much protein is the right amount of protein. or whether dairy and/or soy is a good thing or a bad thing. There's no clear answer, except that everything gives you cancer.

    Thanks for your input. :tucool:
     
  13. Zilla

    Zilla Well-Known Member

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    I feel your pain. IMO, the best thing to do is start your son on a good baseline diet and tweak it as necessary. You'll spare yourself alot of headaches and pointless aggravation. Far too many websites, doctors and the like seem to believe that cookie-cutter diets work for everybody. As we all know around here atleast, that's not the case.

    My son's doctor has been known to tell me to feed my son stuff that he's highly allergic to. Need I say more? He's quick to tell me not to feed him { fill in the blank} once he realizes that doing such a thing would lead to a emergency room visit, but still. I just sit there listen to the foolishness while doing something like this ---> :suspicious:

    You live with your son. You know him better than anybody else, so if he needs to up the carbs so he isn't a total grouch, so be it. If he does fine with less carbs, that works too. At the end of the day, all that matters is that he grows into a healthy teen that is comfortable in is own skin.

    Good luck! :)
     
  14. phillydude

    phillydude Don't Never Give Up.

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    Today was the first day of school, so we started introducing the new nutrition plan to my son's daily routine. Last night we went to the grocery store (see my journal for more details) and filled a cart with healthy stuff (and I learned a lot more about what he likes to eat).

    Breakfast this morning was an egg sandwich (one whole egg, two strips of turkey bacon, and one slice of american cheese on a small bagel) with an 8oz serving of chocolate milk. That came in at 490 calories, with 57g of carbs, 26g of protein, and 18g of fat.

    Packed lunch was a turkey and cheese sandwich on whole wheat with low-fat mayo, a yogurt, and a Tastykake snack cake. As I said, we're gradually making changes, and I wanted to burn through the rest of junk food this week so we can start fresh on Monday (the remaining cookies in the house will go into the lunches Thursday and Friday).

    On a typical day, I will be packing an apple and a granola bar instead of the pastries. Granted, I will be changing up the sandwiches, but the lunch as planned (sandwich, yogurt, granola bar, and apple) comes in around 607 calories, with 92g carbs, 28.5g protein, and 18.25g fat.

    I'm very happy with those numbers for the first two meals of the day. We're still working out the after-school snack and dinner plans, but I am confident that we can come up with options that will round out the program to hit the target numbers.

    To encourage him, I bought a journal/planner in which he can write down his daily weight and BF readings (I was pleasantly surprised that the Omron hand-held unit will allow you to enter 13 years of age), as well as anything he eats beyond breakfast and lunch. I told him that if he completes all five weekdays in an honest fashion, he would get an extra $5 per week in his allowance. I think that's a fair deal, and he did too.
     
  15. Bell

    Bell Member

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    Healthy nutrition is the need of everyone. I think food is the only thing with we can stay healthy. Our teenager need lot of energy so nutrition is important for living healthy. Its a fantastic post and very informative.
     

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