Choose the foods you need to grow: Healthy tips for teen guys

Feed your growing body by making better food choices today as a teen and as you continue to grow into
your twenties.


Make time to be physically active every day to help you be fit and healthy as you grow.

Get over the idea of magic foods

There are no magic foods to eat for good health. Teen guys need to eat foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein foods, and fat-free or low-fat dairy foods. Choose protein foods like unsalted nuts, beans, lean meats, and fish. SuperTracker.usda.gov will show if you are getting the nutrients you need for growth.

Always hungry?

Whole grains that provide fiber can give you a feeling of fullness and provide key nutrients. Choose half your grains as whole grains. Eat whole-wheat breads, pasta, and brown rice instead of white bread, rice, or other refined grains. Also, choose vegetables and fruits when you need to “fill-up.”

Keep water handy

Water is a better option than many other drink choices. Keep a water bottle in your backpack and at your desk to satisfy your thirst. Skip soda, fruit drinks, and energy and sports drinks. They are sugar-sweetened and have few nutrients.

Make a list of favorite foods

Like green apples more than red apples? Ask your family food shopper to buy quick-to-eat foods for the fridge like mini-carrots, apples, oranges, low-fat cheese slices, or yogurt. And also try dried fruit; unsalted nuts; whole-grain breads, cereal, and crackers; and popcorn.

Start cooking often

Get over being hungry by fixing your own snacks and meals. Learn to make vegetable omelets, bean quesadillas, or a batch of spaghetti. Prepare your own food so you can make healthier meals and snacks. Microwaving frozen pizzas doesn’t count as home cooking.

Skip foods that can add unwanted pounds

Cut back on calories by limiting fatty meats like ribs, bacon, and hot dogs. Some foods are just occasional treats like pizza, cakes, cookies, candies, and ice cream. Check out the calorie content of sugary drinks by reading the Nutrition Facts label. Many 12-ounce sodas contain 10 teaspoons of sugar.

Learn how much food you need

Teen guys may need more food than most adults, teen girls, and little kids. Go to www.SuperTracker.usda.gov. It shows how much food you need based on your age, height, weight, and activity level. It also tracks progress towards fitness goals.

Learn more

Check Nutrition Facts labels

To grow, your body needs vitamins and minerals. Calcium and vitamin D are especially important for your growing bones. Read Nutrition Facts labels for calcium. Dairy foods provide the minerals your bones need to grow.

Strengthen your muscles

Work on strengthening and aerobic activities. Work out at least 10 minutes at a time to see a better you. However, you need to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

Fill your plate like MyPlate

Go to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for more easy tips and science-based nutrition from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (www.DietaryGuidelines.gov)

Learn more

Adapted from the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion’s ChooseMyPlate.gov Web site.