Guest Blog: Connie Evers – Nutrition Q&A Part 1
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Connie’s Healthy Eating Blog

Connie answers nutrition questions from @TruthOnHealth twitter fans

Nutrition Q&A

Q. What would you recommend, nutritionally, for my 13 year old son to gain weight and muscle? – ArleneDickinson,LMHC @chionlynx

A. In order to gain muscle, it is necessary to regularly engage in a strength training program. Weight lifting, resistance exercises, kettle balls, or a variety of calisthenics can all increase muscle mass. With a growing 13 year-old boy, it is important to consult a knowledgeable trainer who makes sure that strength training is done in a safe manner which doesn’t risk injury or compromise growth.

As far as nutrition is concerned, the body’s first need is for energy (calories). If your son is not eating enough calories to support growth and fuel his energy needs, he will not be able to build muscle. On average, an active 13 year old male needs about 2600 calories each day. In terms of protein requirements, an active teen athlete needs roughly 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. For instance, a 13 year old boy who weighs 100 pounds and engages regularly in sports and strength conditioning will require roughly 100 grams of protein per day.

You do not need special foods, bars or supplements to reach this level of protein. Foods especially rich in protein include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, cheese, milk and some vegetables also contribute protein to the diet. A balanced diet that is adequate in calories and includes foods from all the food groups will naturally cover this higher protein need. If you visit http://choosemyplate.gov/myplate/index.aspx, you can input your son’s information and receive an individualized plan that will meet his needs for growth and energy.

Another consideration is timing after his workouts. Within 30 minutes to an hour after a workout or sports practice, your son should eat a substantial snack (250 – 400 calories) which includes 15-20 grams of protein and 50-80 grams of carbohydrate. Examples include a cup of vanilla Greek yogurt cup topped with 2 tablespoons granola and a sliced banana or a sandwich made with 2 slices whole grain bread, 2 ounces turkey, lettuce and tomato slices paired with an orange.

Q. What advice can you give for someone who is asthma prone like me?? – GichelleAdarayan @gchelgitch

A. Proper nutrition plays an important role in any chronic disease and the management of asthma is no exception. While diet cannot cure asthma, a well balanced diet can build a strong immune system and promote a healthy weight, both important factors in the control of asthma. While the role of diet in asthma management continues to be studied, many experts feel that a diet rich in plant-based antioxidants can improve lung function. Choosing deep colored fruits and vegetables will ensure a diet high in vitamin C, beta-carotene and other antioxidants. Nuts, nut butters and seeds are important sources of the antioxidant vitamin E. It may also be helpful to take a vitamin D supplement (1000-2000 IU of vitamin D3 each day) as well as a daily omega-3 source such as salmon, trout or a fish oil supplement. Finally, a healthy balanced lifestyle which includes adequate sleep, aerobic exercise and proper hydration all contribute to better asthma management.

Q. Are artificial sweeteners appropriate for kids who need to slim down if used with a healthy diet? – Maryanne N. ‏@MNicoTarm

A. In my practice, I advise my young patients to use small amounts of natural sweeteners (e.g. sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses, fruit jams) to enhance the taste of healthy foods instead of resorting to artificial sweeteners. While Americans eat far too much sugar in all its forms, I really don’t believe that artificial sweeteners are the answer. While the FDA has approved a number of artificial sweeteners for use in foods and beverages, I generally discourage their use, primarily because they are generally added to highly processed foods. I think it is more important to teach children to choose mostly whole or minimally processed foods and to enjoy natural sweeteners in moderation.

Stay tuned for Part 2! I’ll be back next week with more answers to your nutrition questions.

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