Bharti AXA General Insurance is now part of ICICI Lombard General Insurance.

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Teenagers have a lot on the go. They must eat well, not only to perform their best but have the right nutrition to fuel their physical growth. Whether it’s in the classroom or sports ground, kids in their teens need well-balanced meals and snacks, with high protein content, so that they can keep their energy levels up throughout the day.

With a high protein diet, teenagers receive the appropriate amount of nutrients and essential building blocks needed to build their muscle strength and overall immunity. Here’s why diets for teens must have a high protein content:

Why Is Protein Important for Teenagers?

Protein is a slow-digesting nutrient, which is needed for the repair and growth of muscles and tissues. At the same time, protein is also essential for the production of enzymes and hormones. During teenage, children experience rapid changes in their physical development. Popular diet plans for teens, thus include a combination of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, fats, and minerals.

While vitamins and minerals are vital for the overall development of children, it the proteins, carbs, and fats that act as energy sources for the body. That being said, your teenage child can obtain minerals and vitamins from the same foods that supply carbohydrates, fats and protein.

Strike a Balance While Going for a High Protein Diet for Teenagers

While protein is a crucial component for building new muscles, teenagers must consume the right amount of protein to ensure optimal physical growth. In case your teenage child consumes more protein than what their body needs, the surplus may cause inadvertent storage of excess calories in the form of body fat.

On the other hand, too little a protein in the diet may result in breakdown and loss of muscle mass because your teen child’s body may then have to look for alternate sources in itself. When diets for teens include protein-rich foods with simple carbs and vegetables, their body would not use protein (or muscle mass) but will spare it to fuel your growth and muscle repair whenever needed.

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The choice of protein depends upon the quality of protein your teenage child likes and how easily digestible the protein is.

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Diets for Teens Must Have Quality Proteins

The choice of protein depends upon the quality of protein your teenage child likes and how easily digestible the protein is. Typically, animal proteins are considered the "complete" proteins since they include highly digestible amino acids, and can provide a higher quality of amino acids, than other protein sources, say plants or lentils.

Thus, a high protein diet for a teenager must include plenty of milk, meats, and eggs. For vegetarians, foods such as soy, quinoa, and hemp seeds are some of the most popular choices of proteins. To make the meals more interesting, you can pair different proteins such as chicken and legumes or any other combination.

How Much Protein Is Enough for Teenagers?

Protein needs among teenagers are based on their age, body weight, sex, and stage of development. In general, teen kids need approximately 0.35 to 0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Moreover, the bodies of teenagers can best build and maintain muscles when they divide their daily protein intake evenly into two-three meals and a snack. Here are a few food options that you can consider for fulfilling your teenage child’s daily protein requirements:

  • Grilled cheese sandwich
  • Scrambled eggs with cheese
  • Hummus dip with carrots, celery, or crackers
  • Veggie burger
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Pasta with chicken or mutton
  • Meatballs in a soup or with pasta
  • Chapati roll with beans and cheese
  • Cheese pizza
  • Yogurt parfait with fruits
  • Protein-enriched cereal

Make Healthy Dietary Choices to Ensure Your Child’s Growth

As a parent, you must stick with healthy food choices for your teen child, especially protein-rich foods. Typically, a high protein diet for teenagers must be low in saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fat, salt, and added sugars. While the total fat content could be between 25 to 35 percent of the total calories for your teenage child, they must receive this fat from sources such as fish, vegetable oils, nuts, and fat-free dairy products.

According to the American Heart Association, it is also crucial that you don’t end up overfeeding your child. Let your child decide how much they want to eat, and you should not force them to finish their meals. Overall, while your teenage child must eat a balanced, healthy diet, you must keep in mind that you include a high-quality protein source that packs other nutrients. For example, diets for teens must consist of lean proteins such as fish and chicken into your teenage child’s diet, along with several vegetables and fruits.

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