for teenage boys
is good nutrition so important for teenage boys?
Between the ages of 13 and 17 most boys will gain around 17kg or 37lbs. That
is quite a growth spurt in just four years and a lot of food is required to
achieve this growth.
Teenage boys are known for their enormous appetites and they usually eat so
much food that they rarely lack any particular vitamin or mineral. As with all
things in life, however, there are limits for good health.
Too much of any one sort of food will lead to an imbalance. So how do you eat
well? How do you prevent excessive weight gain and avoid obesity? What should
you eat to perform well at sport?
about weight gain?
Weight gain or even obesity can result from eating too much. Currently about
half the adult population (male and female) is overweight.
Being overweight has serious drawbacks for young people. You are more likely
to be picked on or bullied if you are overweight and you are less likely to
do well at sport.
is the key to a healthy diet?
A wide variety of food is the key to a healthy diet, especially if you are
a male between 13 and 17 years.
Plenty of 'white foods' is what you should aim for. This means a large helping
of either bread, potatoes, rice or pasta should be included in every meal.
If it is breakfast time, breakfast cereal should be included.
These starchy foods are energy giving foods, which are needed in large amounts
to support the growth spurt of your teenage years.
You also need one-and-a-half pints of milk throughout the day, as well as a
piece of fruit or a serving of vegetables at each meal. You should be eating
four or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day.
I allowed to snack?
Yes. In fact snacking is good for you as long as the snacks are healthy.
When energy intake needs to be high, eating between meals helps you get there.
Snacking is good for you because it helps keep your energy levels constant.
Some snacks are better than others at supplying energy, vitamins and minerals.
Healthy snacks to choose from include a bowl of breakfast cereal (at any time),
a sandwich, bread and peanut butter, toast, beans/spaghetti on toast, cheese
strings, yoghurt, a yoghurt drink, a milkshake, a cereal bar, cheese and crackers,
fruit, a fruit scone, rice cakes, oat cakes and bread sticks.
Regular exercise is important so that you get a balance between the energy
you eat and the energy you expend (use up).
Exercise such as cycling, soccer, skateboarding or any other sport that you
enjoy is a good way to keep the balance right.
about nutrition and sport?
A lot of leisure time is spent on activities which are not physically demanding
such as watching television and videos, playing computer games and surfing the
net. So for many, sport is an excellent way of getting exercise and stimulating
muscle growth. Boys start to gain muscle at about 14 years old.
The foods which all serious sports people eat a lot of are bread, potatoes,
pasta and rice. These are carbohydrate rich foods and you need to plan to eat
more of these foods before and after training or a match. Do not depend on snacks
from a vending machine or a local shop.
The types of snacks you should choose are sandwiches made with thick slices
of bread, all types of breakfast cereals, milk, fruit, yoghurt, biscuits and
Cakes and desserts also contain carbohydrates and can supplement your energy
needs, but should only be eaten occasionally.
Protein rich foods such as cheese, meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, milk and
yoghurt should be eaten after exercise. So pack an extra ham or cheese sandwich
in your kit bag and have it after a match with a pint of milk.
Nuala Collins, BSc, Nutrition and Dietetics
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