March 31, 2021

How to be the best at growing

Nutrition

The adolescent years are huge years for growth, maturation, and physical development.

Did you know that by the end of the adolescent period, 90% of your child's peak bone mass has been acquired?

And what is peak bone mass?

Well... Peak Bone Mass (PBM) is the maximum bone size and strength an individual can reach. This can be both enhanced or inhibited by many genetic and environmental factors.

So, what are the environmental factors we can influence to be the best at growing?

FOOD:

With the increase in growth, the body demands more fuel and nutrients like:

Calcium:
The main nutrient used for building bone and maintaining the strength of the skeleton.

Calcium intakes should be at their greatest during this period, but statistics tell us that it is the most common nutrient an adolescent would be deficient in.

How to increase calcium intake:

- Include dairy e.g. milk, cheese, yoghurt

- Eat some calcium containing vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale

- Try soy products - calcium fortified soy milk, tofu, edamame beans

- Add in beans and lentils

- Eat more canned fish with bones

Protein:
A major structural component of bone cells that works alongside calcium to maintain optimal bone health.

Protein requirement is high during this period as it functions to prevent osteoporosis.

How to increase protein intake:

- Include dairy e.g. milk, cheese, yoghurt

- Eat chicken and other lean meats like beef and lamb regularly

- Add Eggs to the daily meal plan

- Include more fish

- Try tofu and other soy products including edamame beans

Vitamin D:
Essential for the absorption of calcium, it mostly comes from the exposure to sunlight but is found in some food products such as:

- Fatty Fish like salmon, canned tuna and sardines

- Egg Yolk

- Mushrooms

Vit D may be fortified in some of our regular foods such as milk, fruit juice, cereals and margarine spreads.

Energy:

A restriction in kilojoules coming from food can cause a reduction in growth and the increased risk of the development of osteoporosis even at a young age. It is super important to instil healthy habits into our children from a young age. A well-rounded diet consisting of whole foods, dairy, fruit and vegetables is essential.

Remember to be a good role model yourself, believe it or not your kids are watching.

How can EXERCISE help:

Just like muscles, the more your use your bones the stronger they will become. Exercising regularly, particularly weight bearing exercise, will help to strengthen bones. Anything is better than nothing, so get them moving more and sitting less.

What’s the difference between boys and girls?

Does this all differ between boys and girls? Short answer is yes. Girls begin their growth spurt and puberty before boys, therefore reaching their peak bone mass at an earlier age, around 11-13 years. For boys this happens later, but they experience a greater gain in both bone and lean tissue mass. They are likely to reach their PBM around 12-14 years of age.

Encouraging our young athletes to eat well, exercise regularly will help them reach their personal growing best.

BLOG POST WRITTEN BY: Rachel Stanford-Bush, Nutrition Student Intern with ETP and edited by Rachel Svenson

Blog post by

Rachel Svenson

Working with junior athletes and those who support them from the kitchen and the side-lines has always been a favourite part of my work and an area I have built expert knowledge around.

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