Anahad O'Connor, contributor to the New York Times newspaper's health column, Well, begins the "New Dietary Guidelines Urge Less Sugar for All and Less Protein for Boys and Men" article with "New federal dietary guidelines announced on Thursday urge Americans to drastically cut back on sugar, and for the first time have singled out teenage boys and men for eating too much meat, chicken and eggs."
My question is for parents of teenage boys, or of young men who were recently enough teenage boys that the food bills are still prominent in the memory, or of people who remember being teen boys, or pediatricians, or family doctors, or dieticians (dietitians):
How much daily intake of complete protein is too much for an active adolescent boy? There is no realistic upper level where toxicity begins for teenage boys' ingestion of protein. A 12 year old boy at 50 percentile for weight and height according to the Center of Disease Control growth charts for males age 2 through 20 can expect, if he is to grow to be 50 percentile for height, over ten inches added to his stature, and increase weight from 88 pounds to 155 pounds, by the time he is 19.
I cannot help but think that an above average caloric intake would be required to fully support the growth his hormones are signaling, and thusly more good quality protein needs to be ingested to build muscle, hair, skin and cartilage during those rapid expansion years. Personally, my kid begged me to take him to the doctor's to be examined for ankle/shin/knee pain which was confirmed as growing pains. He grew over four inches in a year. I want him to have sufficient protein to help his body. I am confused by the statement that teenage boys and men are eating too much meat, chicken and eggs.
What are the telltale physical signs a teenage male has had too much protein? Damage to heart, liver and kidney? How does it show in the hair, skin, muscle? If dietary patterns differ widely, how do the analysts who prepared these guidelines determine what the average protein consumption is for teenage boys, and how were the actual intakes of meat, chicken and eggs measured among teenage boys so it could be determined they were eating too much?
I am skeptical of the claim teenage boys eat too much protein. They haven't stopped growing and most of them are not sedentary. Their caloric requirements are higher than those for the rest of us.
I call BS on this one too. I suspect they are trying to address the teenage boy who sits on the couch eating cheeseburgers and is obese. I have a growing 15year old who we constantly have to encourage to eat more protein. If your boy is active, and growing protein is an important part of his diet. If he sits on the couch playing video games all day, he should lower all fat/protein/carb intake so he does not set himself up for long-term obesity problems.
I work out several days a week and try to keep my protein intake up as high as possible to promote muscle growth. If I ate the same amount, but never worked out I would be excessively overweight and would have to cut back. I think the same applies to growing boys, let them eat while they are growing, cut back when they aren't. Usually the amount they consume is directly proportional to the amount they are growing.