Focus on nutrition
The truth is, the best time to start good nutritional habits is when we are young. Unfortunately, the average American teenager diet is known to be low in fruits, vegetables and other complex carbohydrates and it is not uncommon to find deficiencies in Vitamins A, E and K, iron. Even calcium, fairly abundant in the average diet, has been shown to be deficient in over 50% of girls aged 9 to 13 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1996).
- Eliminate soft drinks and fast food (is this surprising!). These are very high in saturated fats and sugars that lack any helpful nutrients, and may have adverse health consequences over the long run.
- Like meat? Try fish and liver. Some of the best sources of essential protein and vitamins are liver and fish (i.e. shellfish and salmon). Liver is arguably the most nutrient food around and fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, an antioxidant and helpful in preventing some diseases.
- Vegetables… the greener the better. These vegetables are great sources of Vitamin A, C, E, K and half of the B Vitamins. Plus, vegetables are an excellent, non-meat source of iron. Some great examples are broccoli, spinach and kale.
- Increase protein intake to 1.5 g of protein per kg of body weight. The RDA and most research recommends 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight. However, this need increases in endurance athletes (Schmalz, K., 1993; Petrie, H.J., Stover, F.A., & Horswill, C.A. (2004). Many protein sources are also high in saturated fat, so read labels first.
–Dr. Matthew Mitchell