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Teenage boys can seem like they are hungry all the time because the human body needs more calories during the early adolescent years than at any other time of life.
The big increase in overall appetite that typically characterizes young teenagers entering the growth spurt of puberty has caused many parents to think that their kids are simply hungry all the time. This is due to the fact that the human body needs more calories during the early adolescent years than at any other time of life. Health experts estimate that on average, teen boys need around 2,800 calories per day compared to the 2,200 calories per day that teenage girls need. The seemingly unquenchable need for more calories starts to drop off after most boys have stopped growing, but not in all cases as many boys who are big and tall and participate in physical activities like sports will still need increased amounts of calories to give them energy long into late adolescence.
The nutrients in proteins, carbohydrates and fats are the main body’s energy sources during adolescence and a single gram of protein or carbohydrates will supply four calories, while fats can contribute far more at up to nine calories per gram. Of the three main nutrients, most teenage boys usually get enough protein. In fact, some nutrition experts have estimated that U.S. teenagers already get twice as much protein as they need due to the large amounts of beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, eggs and cheese that they consume.
Ample nutrients from carbohydrates are found in almost all starches and sugars, and are easily converted into body fuel as the simple sugar glucose. However, there is a big difference between complex carbohydrate foods and simple carbohydrates, as only the complex carbs can provide enough sustained energy for today’s teen boys. In comparison, the simple carbohydrates should be minimized in the diet because they offer little more than very small amounts of energy. Complex carbs are filling but low in fat and can deliver fiber and other assorted nutrients too, and this explains why most nutritionists recommend that complex carbohydrates should account for about half of a teenaged boy’s total caloric intake.
Dietary fats contain undesirable cholesterol that can clog arteries and cause them to harden. Fats can also contain varying amounts of monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and saturated fat. Although fat does supply energy and help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K, fat also has the effect of adding weight and any teenage boy who eats a lot of fat will gain weight even if they have an active lifestyle. The saturated fats found in meat and dairy products like beef, pork, butter, cheese, cream, and oils are all heavy in cholesterol, and most nutritionists recommend that these types of fats should never account for more than 30 percent of a teenager’s diet. Saturated fats should be limited to just 10 percent of a teen’s total daily caloric intake, with the other 20 percent of their daily calories coming from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Because many adolescent boy’s diets will often fail to deliver the minimum daily requirements of calcium, iron and zinc they need, a diet based on the USDA’s recommended guidelines that delivers sufficient amounts of all the essential vitamins and minerals is what will benefit them the most at this time of life. Obtaining the proper amounts of nutrients from a good diet of natural substances is preferable to taking dietary supplements because real vegetables, fruits and grains all contain the natural phytochemical substances that can help safeguard the body from disease, and supplements do not.
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