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Healthy Eating for Teenage Boys
Many teen boys seem to have voracious appetites, which makes sense -- they need more calories than younger kids and adults, and their bodies are undergoing a stage of rapid change and growth. Teens aren’t always known for their smart choices, however, so it’s important to equip them with the tools they need to form and follow a healthy eating plan.
A teen boy’s calorie needs vary depending on his metabolic rate and physical activity level. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, typical teen boys who are between the ages of 14 and 18 need between 2,200 and 3,200 calories every day. If your teen is very active, however, he may need closer to 3,500 to 4,000 calories daily.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that teen boys get at least 38 grams of fiber, 52 grams of protein and 130 grams of carbohydrates -- no more than 25 percent of which come from added sugar -- every day. As a percentage breakdown, their diets should be 45 to 65 percent carbohydrates, 25 to 35 percent fats and 10 to 30 percent protein. Additionally, the minerals calcium and iron are especially important for teens. Teen boys need about 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily, which can be obtained from 3 cups of milk or yogurt plus smaller amounts of calcium in other foods. Iron requirements are about 7.7 milligrams daily, which you can get from three servings of red meat, beans or lentils, 1 cup of fortified cereal or two servings of soy foods.
A healthy meal for a teen boy doesn’t need to look much different than a healthy meal for a typical adult, but it might have larger portions. For breakfast, offer a bowl of oatmeal with skim milk and fresh berries or an omelet with vegetables, cheese and whole wheat toast. At lunch, a whole grain sandwich or wrap with lean turkey, fresh greens and other vegetables is a healthy option. Chili with lean meat or a whole wheat pasta salad are other nutritious choices. For dinner, try fish tacos with roasted vegetables, lean pot roast with a whole grain roll and vegetables or whole wheat spaghetti with lean meatballs, marinara sauce and a side salad. At meals, encourage teens to drink low-fat milk or water and skip juice or soda.
Keeping healthy snacks around can encourage teens to make smart eating choices. Georgia Orcutt, the author of “How to Feed a Teenage Boy,” suggests stocking healthy snacks in the fridge and cupboards and teaching teen boys simple cooking techniques they can use to prepare healthy foods on their own. Teens may be more likely to reach for fresh fruits, cut-up vegetables and healthy trail mix if those options are readily available and easy to take out of the house.
- John Muir Health: Nutrition for Teens
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes - Estimated Average Requirements
- University of Arizona Campus Health Service: Iron Rich Foods to Boost Your Energy
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: How Many Calories Does My Teen Need?
- The Washington Post: How to Feed a Teen Boy, Nutritiously and Inexpensively
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes - Macronutrients
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