Your teenager is still growing, and her nutritional needs are different than they were just a few years ago. She may be worried about her weight, may follow her peer group in choosing what types of foods to eat, or may be an athlete looking to boost her performance. Your daughter needs enough protein in her diet to keep hunger at bay and for optimal health. Teach her about how to consume enough protein by making good food choices.
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How Much Protein?
According to Drugs.com, 12- to 14-year-olds should consume approximately 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. Girls aged 15 to 18 need slightly less protein, or 0.9 grams per kilogram of body weight. Find out how many kg your teenager weighs by dividing her weight in pounds by 2.2. For example, if your 13-year-old weighs 100 pounds, she weighs 45.5 kilograms, and should consume about 45 grams of protein each day. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that 13-year-olds consume about 34 grams of protein each day, and 14- to 18-year-olds, about 46 grams.
A popular misconception is that girls who are athletes need a lot more protein than those who are not. KidsHealth says that a teen athlete can get all of the protein she need through a healthy diet, and eating foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, soy, nuts and legumes.
If your daughter is vegan, she may not be getting enough protein in her diet. If she is vegetarian and eats a variety of non-meat animal products, she is more likely to consume adequate protein. Vegans should be sure to eat nuts, tofu and other soy products, beans and whole grains. If you are concerned that she is not getting enough protein, talk to her doctor.
If your daughter eats a 3-ounce portion of meat daily, she will consume about 21 grams protein. A cup of milk has 8 grams protein, and a cup of yogurt has 11 grams. protein. One cup of dried beans contains 16 grams protein. For better heart health, she should avoid saturated fats when possible. Encourage your teen to choose low-fat dairy products and leaner sources of protein, such as fish, poultry, legumes and lean cuts of milk.
Eating a high-protein diet can be detrimental to your teenager's health. Too much protein can cause kidney problems, dehydration and calcium loss. Tell your daughter about these dangers and ask her to avoid high-protein shakes, powders and other protein supplements unless her doctor recommends them. In addition to potentially providing her with too much protein, they may make her less hungry for other foods containing nutrients that she needs.