Adolescence is the age of 11 to 18 years when both the male and the female body experiences a lot of physical changes and it is essential to follow a healthy diet for teenagers in order to support the changes. Adolescence is the stage when the body is still growing, and it is best not to follow any restrictive low-calorie diet such as 1200 calorie meals. In modern times, where the entire world is driven by physical appearances, teens often feel the pressure to fit into social standards of the perfect body image which promotes them to opt for severe crash diets. But in reality, teenagers can easily maintain healthy body weight by following a balanced diet chart as per their sex and level of physical activity combining it with daily exercise.
In addition, teenagers are the highest consumers of junk foods like soda, sweets, cookies, chips, fries, burgers and pizzas which in turn increases the risk of weight gain and obesity among the youth. A balanced diet for teenagers should include a daily supply of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. In this article, we have mentioned four separate diet plans for teenage boys and girls based on their lifestyle – sedentary and active.
The benefits of eating fruits and vegetables to lose weight is well known but fruits and vegetables are also the best natural sources of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that help in maintaining the healthy functioning of the body. Here is a complete list of healthy diet foods ranging from all food groups that can be included in the balanced diet for teenagers.
Calcium Rich Foods – Milk, cheese, yogurt, soybeans, tofu and nuts
Vitamin D Rich Foods – Breakfast cereals, margarine, oily fishes
Natural Protein Foods – Red meat, fish, pulses, cereals, green vegetables
Folate-Rich Foods – Brown rice, green vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals and bread
Vitamin C Rich Foods – Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, potatoes
It is extremely difficult to form a standardized diet plan for all people because the daily calorie requirement of each and every person differs from one another depending on various issues such as age, gender and level of physical activity. Teenagers are busy, and active people, and it has been seen that the daily calorie requirement of teenagers ranges between 1600 to 2600 calories.
It is necessary to define the terms sedentary and active in accordance with this calorie chart.
“Sedentary” here stands for a lifestyle that includes only light physical activity associated with regular day-to-day life with no exercise or workouts.
“Active” here stands for a lifestyle that includes at least daily walking of more than 3 miles per day at the speed of 3 to 4 miles per hour or engaged in sports along with light physical activity associated with usual day-to-day life.
Obesity and overweight issues have become the epidemic of modern times, and it is more common among adolescent people. But the burning question of how to overcome obesity in children and adolescents can be answered with the right food choices and daily physical activity. Teenage girls are more sensitive about the weight, and they often develop disordered eating habits such as starving themselves or skipping meals in order fit in the popular social image. The daily calorie intake of teenage girls should range between 1600 to 2400 calories, 1600 calories for girls with more or less sedentary lifestyle and 2400 calories for girls with an active lifestyle.
The following is a sample 1600 calorie diet plan that can be enjoyed by teenage girls with a sedentary lifestyle if they want to maintain their weight at a constant level, or it can also work as a diet for teenage girls looking to lose weight when combined with daily exercisea like skipping rope, swimming or cycling for 30 minutes.
The 1600 calories diet has to be divided into 3 meals and 2 snacks, each meal consisting of 500 calories and 100 calories devoted to snacks.
Lunch – Chicken sandwich made with 2 slices of wheat bread, 3 slices of roasted chicken, lettuce, tomato slices, and mustard. 1 whole pear, 1 glass of skim milk
Evening Snack – 1 apple, 2 teaspoons of peanut butter
Dinner – 1 cup cooked brown rice, 1 cup steamed vegetables topped with 1 teaspoon of butter, grilled shrimps or fish, 1 cup fruit punch
The following is a sample 2400 calorie diet plan that can be enjoyed by teenage girls having an active lifestyle; ideal for those engaged in sports activities. This healthy food chart containing a wide range of nutritious foods will act as a consistent source of energy so that they don’t feel fatigued and worn out, and the proteins will help in building lean muscle mass while cutting out fat from the body.
A typical 2400 calorie diet chart should be divided into 3 meals and 2 snacks. Each meal should have 600 calories, and each snack should have 300 calories.
Breakfast – Banana smoothie made with 1 ripe banana, 1 cup of skim milk and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. 1 slice of wheat bread, 2 scrambled eggs
Midmorning Snack – 10 Whole grain crackers with 2 tablespoons of hummus
Lunch – 1 Cup of cooked brown rice, 85 grams of grilled fish, 1 cup boiled spinach and sweet potatoes, handful of fresh or frozen berries
Evening Snack – 1 Slice wheat bread, 28 grams of fat-free cheese, 1 cup low-fat skim milk
Dinner – Pasta salad made with 1 cup whole wheat pasta, ½ cup chicken cubes, 1/4th cup cheese, diced bell pepper and tomatoes. 1 orange
Healthy diets for teens should have optimum nutritional balance because girls are still growing at this stage.
Teenage is that phase of life which is marked by drastic changes and rapid growth. These physical changes and growth explains the avid hunger that teenage boys experience. This is because at this stage, the body requires more calories and energy, much more compared to adults and younger kids. And teenage boys need more calories compared to teenage girls due to their higher rate of metabolism. The ideal diet for teenage boys should have optimum nutrition along with daily workouts to lose fat and remain healthy. In case of boys, the daily calories required per day range between 1800 to 2600 calories, 1800 calories for boys with a sedentary lifestyle and 2600 calories for boys with an active lifestyle.
The following is a sample 1800 calorie diet plan that can be maintained by teenage boys who are not much into exercise, outdoor games and sports. It is the ideal diet plan to maintain the body weight at a healthy level without much exercise. But adolescence, the age between 11 to 18 years is a crucial period for most boys because at this age there is a growth spurt of almost 17 kgs and a lot of food is needed to achieve it. So, it is important to plan the 1800 cal diet by incorporating different food groups into a whole day’s meals.
The 1800 calorie diet is usually divided into 3 meals and 2 snacks, each meal consisting of 500 calories and each snack consisting of 150 calories.
Breakfast – 2 slices of whole grain toast, 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 hardboiled eggs, 1/2 cup melon, 170 ml orange juice
Mid-Morning Snack – 1 cup low-fat yogurt, 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries
Lunch – 1 cup cooked brown rice, 85 grams baked or roasted chicken breast, salad made with lettuce, carrots, onions, tomatoes and olives
Evening Snack – 1/2 cup of mixed nuts and dried fruits
Dinner – 115 grams of roasted chicken breast, 140 grams of baked sweet potato topped with 1 teaspoon of butter, 1/2 cup steamed broccoli, 1 orange
The following is a sample 1800 calorie diet plan that should be followed by teenage boys who are engaged in intense physical activities such as sports and outdoor games and the calories should mainly come from carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. The protein content of the diet promotes the formation of lean muscle mass and gives a toned appearance to the physique whereas the complex carbohydrates act as a consistent and steady source of energy that helps in better athletic performance.
The 2600 calorie diet plan is divided into 3 meals and 2 snacks, each meal consisting of 600 calories, and each meal consisting of 400 calories.
Breakfast – 1.5 cup of oatmeal with 1/4th cup almonds, 1/2 cup sliced kiwi fruit, 230 ml skim milk, 1 cup coffee
Mid-Morning Snack – 10 non-fat whole wheat crackers, 30 grams of low-fat cheese
Lunch – 1 cup cooked brown rice, 115 grams of baked fish, 1/2 cup cooked cauliflower, 1 cup lettuce salad, 2 small fat-free cookies
Evening Snack -230 grams low-fat yogurt topped with 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed, 1 plum
Dinner – 140 grams baked chicken breast, 3/4th cup mashed potatoes, 1 cup steamed broccoli
Healthy diets for teenagers, especially for boys must include specific nutrient-rich foods because their growing body have special nutritional requirements, unlike adults or younger children.
Although this article is about healthy diets for teenagers, no diet plan is really complete without mentioning the role that daily exercises and workouts play in making the diets effective and successful. The benefits of exercises for maintaining and improving overall health need no new emphasis. It is a truth well acknowledged that exercises are important at each and every stage of life and adolescence is no exception.
Weight Management – Adolescence is the stage when people become more conscious about their physical appearance. But an attractive physique does not mean a sickly body; it means a healthy and toned body with greater amount of lean muscles rather than fat. And this can be achieved through a combination of diet and exercises. Workouts burn calories and tone the muscle and help in weight management. Teenagers should try to devote at least 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity every day for best results.
Aerobic Exercises – Aerobic exercise and sport activities such as football, basketball, tennis, hiking, dancing, swimming, running and cycling helps in improving heart health by enhancing the breathing rate and strengthening the heart muscles. It also boosts energy levels and aids the teens to remain physically active for longer period of time without getting fatigued.
Strength Training – Strength training workouts like push ups, squats, pull ups, leg raises and crunches helps to develop stronger muscles, bones and joints which in turn reduces the risk of injury. These exercises also help in maintaining healthy weight by burning calories.
Improved Mental Health – All types of physical exercises promotes the release of the feel-good chemical endorphin that helps in improving mood and reducing the risk of depression in teens. It aids in providing restful sleep which in turn enhances thinking capacity, learning skills and academic performance. In addition, it provides a boost to self-esteem and builds self-confidence.
Prevention of Diseases – Chronic diseases are no longer restricted to aging adults; they are also becoming common among young adults and teenagers. Regular exercises during the early stages of life helps to keep obesity and overweight issues at bay which, in turn reduces the risk of developing heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer in future. Weight-bearing exercises like brisk walking, jumping ropes, and jogging also increases bone density and limit the chances of developing osteoporosis later in life.
So, now that you have a comprehensive guide to diet and exercise that you can follow as per your level of activity in order to maintain body weight at a healthy level as well as promote weight loss by combining them with daily physical activity.