When it comes to dealing with physical activity, our young ones and adolescents top the chart. Adolescence or pre-teenage is the most significant part of the growing stage, one can never underestimate it. With growing competition and technological advancement in the world, it has become necessary to look after the physical and emotional well-being of an adolescent.
An adolescent's body goes through a lot of change that needs to be looked after and supported by taking a proper and healthy diet. What they eat and what they drink has to be balanced. It is necessary to check whether they are getting the right amount of macro and micro nutrients their body needs.
Also, eating healthy doesn't mean a pre-teen has to skip their favourite food completely (Franky, it wont happen), but it should be taken in small amounts and less often.
Importance of protein in pre-teens
For a body to grow well, it needs to have the macros in place. One such macro that is essential for the growth of muscles and tissue building is Protein. They help oxygenate and regulate the hormones when adolescent bodies are going through rapid change. There is a small period of growth (8 – 13 years) and if that is nutritionally rich, the teen can grow to their maximum potential. Otherwise they second and last opportunity to grow can be lost.
When the calorie intake is too low, the body finds it's difficult to break down protein to perform various roles and uses all of it to provide energy. It eventually leads to a deficiency of protein in the body. Protein deficiency can cause various health issues like fatigue, loss of concentration, hair fall, dry skin or acne, weakness, and brittle nails.
What is protein?
Proteins are nutrients and are known as a fuel source for the body. It is polymer chains that are made of essential amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. During the process of human digestion, the proteins which are present in the food, break down in the stomach to smaller polypeptide chains by protease actions and hydrochloric acid, which is then absorbed by the body and cannot be biosynthesized by the body.
How much protein is needed in a body?
The amount of protein required in an adolescent diet is measured by overall energy intake, body weight and composition, carbohydrate intake, and physical activity level.
If the adolescent is involved in extra physical activity like sports, the protein intake increases than normal day-to-day body activity.
On an average, we all need 1 gm of protein per kg of body weight. So if your child is 35 kgs, give her 35 gms of protein daily (approximate figures).
However, if the child is active, sporty, adventurous the protein requirement increases. Sportspersons and athletic kids are seen to have 2 gms of protein per kg of body weight.
What happens if there is protein deficiency in the body?
When there is an inadequate amount of protein intake, adolescents might suffer from many diseases. One can also see the delay in sexual maturity, reductions in linear growth, lack of concentration, fatigue, lowered immunity, acne, hair fall and more.
To sum it up, here are the 5 reasons all of us need protein:
Protein helps to build. Growing years of adolescence is very beneficial and it is most likely to be looked after. Our body's parts like skin, hair, and nails are mostly made up of protein. Proteins provide amino acids which are also called the building blocks of bones, cartilage, muscles and skin. It helps build the muscles and keep them powerful.
During this age, the body of a kid goes through changes that need constant energy to keep up the pace. The protein here acts as a repairing agent, which provides essential acids to the body which the body then uses to repair and grow muscles and body tissue.
Oxygen is the most significant element that is required by every living being to survive in the environment. The protein compound which is present in the red blood cells carries oxygen throughout the body. This helps in providing the entire body with the nutrients it needs.
As much as healthy eating is necessary, proper digestion of food is also something that is much needed. About half of the protein we consume each day through food and beverage goes into making enzymes which then helps in the digestion of the food.
The most crucial thing that protein does is the regulation of growth and development of the body during puberty. It helps in the changes that take place in the body of the pre-teen and teen.
On behalf of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Healthcare Specialist, Jodie Shield says
"Growing kids need protein to help them build and repair cells, enzymes, and hormones, and, as a last resort, to provide energy."
"Prevention is better than cure", so for a child to step into healthy and happy teen years, make sure the protein intake is right!