You might wake up one day to find your teenage boy has eaten you out of house and home. This can be a normal part of teenage development. His appetite may increase during growth spurts or as a result of puberty’s many changes. His eating will probably balance out as he gets older. On the other hand, if your teen is underweight or suffers from obesity, his calorie consumption might be of some concern to you.
The concept of calories in and calories out for maintaining a healthy weight applies to teens, too. When teens take in too many calories, they can gain excess body fat. When teens eat too little, they can become underweight. Calorie counts don’t only help make sure your teen’s energy needs are met. They also help make sure he’s eating enough to get the proper nutrition his rapidly growing body needs.
Number of Calories Needed
According to MayoClinic.com, boys aged 14 to 18 need anywhere from 2,200 to 3,200 calories per day. The large gap and lack of specific calorie counts comes from teens’ differing developmental rates. Your 15 year-old can look like a scrawny kid one month, then have a rapid, puberty-induced growth spurt the next. Calorie counts also differ based on your teen’s activity levels, so active kids and athletes will need to eat at the higher end, while sedentary kids and kids trying to lose weight will eat at the lower end.
Losing or Gaining Weight
If your teen is underweight, he may just need puberty to kick in. It could also be that he doesn’t take in enough calories. If he’s trying to gain weight, encourage him to eat more servings of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. If he’s overweight, it may be necessary to cut calories by eating healthier foods. All teens should get regular exercise to keep their weights in check and keep their bodies healthy in general.
Sometimes the type of calories your teen consumes matters more than the amount. If he eats a healthy diet most of the time and doesn’t have trouble controlling his weight, it may not be necessary to count calories. Diets high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy are ideal. Calories from junk food, fast food and rich desserts, while often portrayed as the mainstay of teen diets, should be eaten in moderation.
It’s a common misconception that youth offers protection from disease. While it does take time for unhealthy habits to take their toll on your body, teens who eat too many calories, take in too much saturated fat and have inadequate nutrition can develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other conditions typically associated with adults.