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Eating to Grow – How Do You Know?

How do you know you are eating enough to grow and develop? Recommendations have been made for how many calories you should eat (Department of Health, 1991). These are suggested as enough to meet the needs of 95% of children in the population and are based on the average weight for each age group. Maturation is simply how you grown from a child to a fully-developed adult (Lloyd and Oliver, 2014). This is crucial for motor skill development, strength, power, and injury-risk in young athletes (Dobbs, Science for Sport).

How Do I Know I’m Eating Enough?

It is tough to be certain you’re eating enough; especially as young athletes are likely more active than the average child. Carbohydrate are key to provide energy (Bean, 2013) so eating enough is crucial for your development. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you get from a mix of foods. As a general guide, the following may be useful:

Listen to Your Body - Are you finding it harder than usual to recover from training? Is your performance getting worse? Has this been going on for a while?

How Are You Feeling? – Are you always hungry? Tired and moody?

Not Been Well? Your Body Can Tell! – Ok, so this is kind of like “Listen to Your Body”. But! If you’ve been poorly, suffering from colds, infections, sickness, and any general bugs and illnesses; it might be a sign you’ve not been eating enough. Not eating enough can weaken your immune system!

Monitor Your Growth – Maturation is a huge thing at your age. This can be done by keeping an eye on your body mass (kilograms; or weight in pounds) and height (centimetres, metres). If you know your height in feet and inches (e.g. 5 ft 7 in) and weight in stones and pounds (e.g. 9 st 3 lbs), it is worth getting to know these values in kilograms and centimetres. You can use these values to calculate your BMI with an online NHS BMI calculator to see, generally for health, where you are on the fit on the scale, so to speak.

Final Words

It you are gaining weight healthily over the years in line with the reference values, you are likely doing a great job. Likewise, if you are wanting to lose weight, you should be careful not to overeat as this can lead to weight gain and extra body fat that is not needed and unhealthy. In this case, eating less carbohydrate can help you lose weight.

There are more complex ways of looking at it, but right now, simply taking an interest in maximising your growth and development will help improve your health, performance, recovery, and will likely impress coaches and clubs by showing you are an athlete who cares about looking after themselves and being at their best!


Photo credit:

Guest Author, Liam Oliver.


Great Britain. Department of Health. (1991). Dietary reference values for food energy and nutrients for the United Kingdom (Report on health and social subjects; 41). HMSO.

Bean, A. (2013). Anita Bean's Sports Nutrition for Young Athletes. A&C Black.

Ian Dobbs -

Lloyd, R. S., and Oliver, J. L. Strength and Conditioning for Young Athletes: Science and Application. Routledge, 2014.

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