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A comparison of the nutritional needs between teen athletes and average teens

Teens' appetites can be insatiable when they have a growth spurts because their bodies require more energy and nutrients to build new muscles, bones and skin. Adults' nutritional requirements are mainly influenced by their gender and physical activity level. Whether you are a teen or an adult, your nutritional requirements are highly individual.

1. Introduction

Protein Ten percent to 30 percent of the calories in a teen's diet should come from protein, providing a minimum of 34 grams of protein daily for teens between 9 and 13 years of age. Adults need a similar portion of their calories to come from protein too, between 10 percent and 35 percent, but adult females should get at least 46 grams while adult males need a minimum of 56 grams of protein a day.

Protein should provide all the essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein, for both teens and adults.

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  • Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 110, 1501-1510;
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Animal proteins, such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs, are complete and contain all the essential amino acids. Vegetarian proteins are incomplete and vegetarians therefore need to pair different types of proteins to get all the amino acids they need.

Calcium and Phosphorus The dietary requirement for most nutrients is usually similar or slightly less for teens compared to adults, with the exception of calcium and phosphorus.

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Teens are building new bones and extra calcium and phosphorus help them to reach an adequate bone mineral density. For example, adults require 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 700 milligrams of phosphorus a day, while teens need 1,300 milligrams of calcium and 1,250 milligrams of phosphorus a day.

Comparison of nutritional intake in US adolescent swimmers and non-athletes

Dairy products are the best condensed sources of calcium and phosphorus. Calories The energy requirement for teens is higher than for children, but not as high as for most adults. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that teen boys get between 1,600 and 2,600 calories a day while teen girls should get between 1,400 and 2,200 calories a day, depending on their physical activity level.

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  • Iron About the Author Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian;
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The daily calorie requirement for healthy adults is slightly higher, at 2,200 to to 3,000 calories a day for men and 1,800 to 2,400 calories a day for women.

Whether you are a teen or an adult, adjust your calorie intake according to your physical activity levels and weight goals. Carbohydrates and Fat About one-tenth to one-third of the daily calories consumed by teens and adults should come from protein, while the remainder should be provided by carbohydrates and fat.

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The recommended proportion of carbohydrates and fat for both adults and teens is similar, but the total amount should be adjusted based on your physical activity level and gender. Teens and adults need a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrates a day and about 45 to 65 percent of your calories should come from this nutrient, while fats should correspond to 20 to 35 percent of your calories for adequate nutrition.

Variety A balanced and varied diet is the best way for both adults and teens to get all the nutrition they need to stay healthy.

Nutritional Considerations for Performance in Young Athletes

Processed foods and fast foods should be kept to a minimum because they provide a lot of empty calories -- calories with few important nutrients. Instead, both adults and teens should fill up their plates with whole foods, such as an array of vitamin-rich vegetables and fruits, protein-packed eggs, poultry and fish; as well as healthy fats from nuts, nut butters, olive oil and avocado.

Eating fresh foods that don't come in boxes or packages is your best bet to get all the nutrition your body needs. Overweight and Obesity Many adults and teens carry more weight than they should.

Adult Vs. Teen Nutrition

Paradoxically, they may be deficient in various minerals and vitamins despite getting too many calories, because of poor diet. If you are an adult or teen who needs to lose weight, eating a balanced diet based on "real" food is essential to provide your body with the nutrition it requires to function better.

Whole, unprocessed foods are usually higher in protein, fiber and water and can help you feel fuller with fewer calories, to help you naturally lose weight while meeting your nutrition requirements.