Your body needs fat for energy, and to store vitamins, protect organs, regulate hormone production and assist with numerous other functions. Fat should account for a portion of your total calories, with protein and carbohydrates representing the rest. Kids around the age of 14 need a bit more fat in their diets than adults because of their higher typical activity levels, increased caloric intake and increased nutrient requirements due to growth.
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According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, fat should account for 25 to 35 percent of the total calories of a 14-year-old boy or girl. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the average female 14-year-old with a moderately active lifestyle needs about 2,000 calories per day, while a moderately active male of the same age requires 2,400 to 2,800 calories each day. A 14-year-old female should then consume 500 to 700 calories a day from fat, while a male should consume about 650 to 910 fat calories. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, so a 14-year-old female and male should consume between 56 to 78 and 72 to 101 g of fat, respectively.
The majority, if not all, of your dietary fat should be unsaturated. Monounsaturated fats can help improve cholesterol levels and decrease risk of heart disease. Polyunsaturated fats provide similar benefits as monounsaturated fats, but may also decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes and improve some cognitive functions. While the majority of your fat should be unsaturated, the IOM provides specific recommendations for polyunsaturated fats. The average 14-year-old male should consume 16 g of omega-6 fatty acids and 1.6 g of omega-3 fatty acids. The average 14-year-old female should consume 11 g of omega-6 fatty acids and 1.1 g of omega-3 fatty acids.
Saturated and Trans Fat
You should limit your saturated and trans fat intake as much as possible. Saturated fat is commonly found in animal products, while trans fat exists in animal products as well as packaged and processed foods. Both fats have a high correlation to cardiovascular disease and the IOM does not provide recommended dietary allowances for these fats. The USDA advises consuming less than 10 percent of your calories from saturated fat and 1 percent from trans fat. The average 14-year-old female should then limit her daily saturated and trans fat intake to 22 and 2 g, respectively, while the average 14-year-old male should consume less than 29 and 3 g, respectively.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance similar to fat, and is commonly found in foods that are high in fat. Your body needs cholesterol to produce bile salts and hormones, but your liver produces enough each day so that you don't need much in your diet. Too much cholesterol in the diet can result in arterial build-up, potentially leading to strokes and heart attacks. The USDA advises that 14-year-old boys and girls consume less than 0.3 g of cholesterol per day.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- "Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning"; Thomas Baechle and Roger Earle (editors); 2008
- KidsHealth: Learning About Fats; February 2008
- Institute of Medicine; Dietary Reference Intakes; Macronutrients; 2005
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans; 2010
- Mayo Clinic; Dietary Fats; Know Which Types to Choose; February 2011
- KidsHealth; What is Cholesterol?; December 2009
- American Heart Association; Know Your Fats; March 2011
- MedlinePlus: Dietary Fats