Nutrition for Teens and Athletes

Eat Well, Feel Well, Achieve.

Basic Nutrition
 Eat at least 5 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
 Eat a high quality source of protein (nuts, beans, lentils, yogurt, milk, eggs, cheese, meat),  at each meal and most snacks.
 Eat at least 3 servings of high calcium foods a day. (milk or soy milk, yogurt, cheese, fortified cereals, fortified juices, green leafy vegetables)
 Replace low nutrient density foods like refined grains, sweetened drinks, and sweets with whole grain foods, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and water. Whole grain foods should have about 3 grams of fiber for every 100 calories.
 Replace fried foods, fatty meats, and processed foods with healthy fats from vegetables, fish and nuts

Teens have special nutritional needs:
 Teens’ diets are frequently deficient in calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
 Make sure snacks contain at least one of these nutrients.
 Vitamins and supplements are sometimes necessary. Ask your doctor.

Examples of foods high in nutrients that teens need:
High iron foods: Beans, Iron fortified cereals (like Total, Cheerios), Chicken, beef, pork, Nuts and sunflower seeds, dried plums and apricots
High calcium foods: Skim milk, Yogurt, Fortified soy milk, Fortified fruit juice, Fortified tofu, Cheese and some fortified cereals
Foods high in Vitamin A: Orange or yellow fruits like cantaloupe, apricots, mangoes, and nectarines. Orange or yellow vegetables like carrots and squash. Tomatoes, Watermelon, Red bell peppers
Foods high in vitamin C: Broccoli and other dark green veggies, Peppers, Oranges and other citrus fruits, Melons, Berries, Potatoes (not chips or fries)

Tips for Teen eating Machines
 At the peak of growth, (around 11-13 for girls and 14-16 for boys) girls need about 2200 calories and boys need about 3000 calories a day.
 Athletes often need more.
 Make healthy foods available when hunger strikes. (You’ll eat junk if that’s what is available-Avoid keeping it in the house.)
 Stock up on whole grain cereals, skim milk, yogurt, Nuts, fruit, peanut butter, and whole grain bread.
 Make healthy leftovers available for snacks.

Breakfast is Essential
 Fifty percent of teens skip breakfast.
School performance, ability to drive, general health, sports performance, and mood all suffer when breakfast is skipped.
 A granola bar, liquid breakfast, or yogurt is better than no breakfast.
 Unconventional breakfasts are fine.
 Daily fast food breakfasts are not OK.
 If the thought of breakfast makes you sick in the morning, your blood sugar may be too low. You need to eat breakfast even more than most people!

Warning signs of an unhealthy diet:
Marked weight loss, gain, or fluctuation
 Odd or obsessive eating behaviors
 Excluding broad categories of healthy foods
 Frequent or severe dieting or fasting
 Hair loss, ankle swelling, nail changes, lethargy
 A diet that does not include sources of protein, calcium, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
 Meal skipping

Unrealistic expectations
 Fifteen percent of teenage girls are overweight, yet 70% express a desire to lose weight.
 Many mistake their new natural feminine curves for excess fat.
 Some athletes want muscles like the body builders on magazine covers.
Any teen who decides to make a dramatic change in his diet (like becoming vegetarian or trying a popular diet or supplement) during this period of rapid growth needs a check-up with a physician.

When do teens and athletes need supplements?
 Those who don’t eat meat on a regular basis may need iron and zinc as well as B vitamins.
 Those who don’t get three or more servings of calcium foods a day need a calcium supplement with Vitamin D.
 A daily multivitamin is good insurance if you don’t eat a lot of fruits and veggies.
 Protein supplements are not generally needed.

 “All natural” does not in any way imply that a supplement is safe.
 The government does not regulate claims or safety of supplements or herbs.
 Many nutritional supplements are contaminated with dangerous drugs and toxic chemicals.
 Major brands of multivitamins in the US containing the USRDA are safe, but mega-doses are not safe.
Ask your doctor about any herbs or supplements before taking them.
 Androgenic steroids (like androstenedione) and amphetamines (uppers or pep pills) are not safe.
 Most “performance enhancers” just don’t deliver the desired results.

What Performance Athletes need:
 Plenty of lean protein
 Calcium
 Fruits and vegetables
 Whole grains
 Healthy fats
 Limit low nutrient density foods especially sweetened drinks and sports drinks
 Plenty of water
Nine or more hours of sleep daily plus days off from training
Must enjoy the sport even when training intensively

Dr. Kocsis is the author of Savvy Eating for the Whole Family: Whole Foods Whole Family, Whole Life and practices pediatrics at Cornerstone Pediatrics in Cary, NC, (919) 460-0993 comcopyright 2009