Nutrition Advice For Teen Athlete With Set Schedule

Thanks for reading!


My son (15 yo, 5'8" 190lbs - broad shouldered kid with size 13 feet!) is seeking advice about what to eat and when for optimum performance while loosing weight (he wants to get to 175 lbs).  He is a high school student and is on the swim team.  Their practices are everyday at 4 pm.  He also does some weight training in the evening if I have the time to take him to the gym.  His schedule and diet are all self driven... this is an athletic and motivated kid.  He is his own bio-hacker trying to figure out what to do next.


His schedule: Leaves for school at 6:30 am, school until 3.  Stays there doing homework until practice at 4.  Comes home by 6 pm.  Shower, dinner, homework/relax.  Bed by 10 pm.  He clips along at a pretty good pace but is enjoying it.


His fuel:  He makes a fatty tea in the morning with tea and 1 tbsp coconut oil which he drinks throughout his morning.  He LOVES this since starting it about a month ago.  His feedback has been that he feels energized and is not hungry at all.  He is slowly increasing the amount of coconut oil as his body gets used to it (initial disaster pants).  He eats an apple at lunch time.  He doesn't eat anything else until dinner.  He claims he isn't hungry, but he's starting to warm up to the idea that adding the right fuel at some point before his 4 pm practice (basically swimming laps for 90 min) would be beneficial.  He also is doing cross-fit type stuff during his PE (everyday, but not sure when this happens.  I think right after his lunch hour).  His dinner is a lot of veggies and meat, plus carbs (potatoes, rice, or pasta... Not gluten free).  He eats almost no processed food.


I'm thinking to get some protein in him but when?  Also needs to be a form that he can carry with him all day since he isn't home mid-day.  Also, he is allergic to nuts!




  • WalterWalter ✭✭✭
    edited April 2016

    So he is 190lbs, has classes, swims 90 minutes every day, and does weight training. Breakfast is tea with coconut oil, lunch is an apple, then dinner must be around 3000kcal with 190gr of protein, at least.


    As for the protein recommendation: most types of meat and fish will do. Perhaps some whey protein powder. Eggs. Etc.

  • Yea no.  It's a big dinner but nothing you would bat an eye at.  I agree he's not eating enough and your calculation helps me see just how far he is off!  Yikes.  No wonder he isn't making progress with lifting.  Thank you.  I am new to figuring out that sort of thing.  I am starting to get through to him that he needs to eat more healthy fat and protein in order to build, grow, etc.  The guys at the gym are pushing the protein shakes and bars and he's asking about a BP version.  He avoids the processed crap.  And thus the post here.


    I'm thinking jerky, maybe hard boiled eggs...  and a DIY recipe for a fatty protein bar?  I think I could convince him to take something like that to school and eat sometime mid day.  I found a recipe in the forums that I think I could tweak to be without nuts.  I have grassfed whey and collagen on hand.


    So at this point, I'm guessing it won't matter if he adds this extra food around noon with the 4 pm work out.  Should the carbs all wait until dinner?

  • So he is 190lbs, has classes, swims 90 minutes every day, and does weight training. Breakfast is tea with coconut oil, lunch is an apple, then dinner must be around 3000kcal with 190gr of protein, at least.


    Would you mind explaining how you get to 190 grams of protein/day?  I'm not sure he would eat that much even if he had protein at every meal.


  • So he's got a Basal Metabolic Rate (amount of calories to just lay there and breathe) of approx. 2000cals per day. He's swimming 90mins which is approx. 1000cals (depending on which stroke and pace). Bam, there goes 3000cals.


    He's burning additional cals each day by standing up and walking around, sitting up straight in a chair in school, using his brain to study, weight training, crossfit, maybe mowing the lawn, throwing a frisbee, stretching, yawning, scratching his elbow, and any one of a thousand other things that burn calories in a day. Fatty tea, an apple and a regular dinner isn't sustainable. Something is going to break, and probably soon.


    Sit him down with a blank piece of paper and a pen, do some math with him so he can see his current road to ruin. You don't have to talk about the endocrine system impact, immune system impact, muscle catabolizing or any other associated areas. Just do simple math and make him understand he needs to eat more. 

  • WalterWalter ✭✭✭

    Would you mind explaining how you get to 190 grams of protein/day?  I'm not sure he would eat that much even if he had protein at every meal.



    One protein shake can be around 30grams of protein. Then you can spread the rest over 3 or 4 meals with meats, eggs, etc. Check out the Bulletproof Infographic if you haven't already.

    And like staylor says he needs a lot of energy. I know young guys can do it all and not feel hungry (I was pretty much the same around that age), but it's far from optimal. I was lucky to acknowledge this problem early on, or I would have crashed many years ago.

  • Can't thank you guys enough for the responses.  As you can probably guess, teenagers seem much more receptive to this kind of advice when it doesn't come from their parents.  I picked up some protein powders (RAW protein, RAW meal, and Reserveage Grass Fed Whey Protein), some nut free epic bars and he agreed to eat more during his lunch hour.  It's a start.  I'll sit down with him and figure out exactly what 200 grams of protein looks like and calculate how much he is eating at dinner to give him a more precise target for how much to add along with supplying him with lots of options that he can carry with him to school.


    Thank you so much!  He is eating up the advice (no pun intended).

  • C-CupC-Cup
    edited May 2016



    Thanks again for your sage advice on this forum.  My son is doing fantastic... added three eggs cooked with veggies in the morning and some homemade protein bars to his lunch and post workout.  With this, he saw a jump in his appetite at dinner too and so is eating more then as well.  Hes is also getting closer and closer to being totally bulletproof by now avoiding bread and pasta.  He not only lost 10 lbs this month but is performing better in his sports (And sleeping better, calmer, more confident...)


    So he is all fired up for summer and wanted me to ask you guys if there is a different post workout approach for weights vs. cardio  He's totally on board with the eating more, and wants to optimize when and what he is eating.


    His summer schedule (M-F) will be a 1 hour swim workout at dawn (cardio) and a 1.5 hour water polo workout in the late afternoon (closer to HIIT workouts) plus two days of weights in the evening.


    Any tips specific to recovery after cardio vs. weights?  ALSO... ok to do fasted cardio?  He's thinking he'll just have a hearty breakfast after the morning swim... I'd say he's fat adapted.  Should he drink a bulletproof tea before swimming for fat or just go into the workout fasted?

  • WalterWalter ✭✭✭

    Post workout for weights and cardio would be the same: high glycemic carbs and easily digestible protein.


    And since he's working out 12 times a week at pretty high intensity he will need it. Fasted cardio is okay but his performance depends on what he ate at dinner the evening before. Butter tea is better left for after the workout, however it is more important to have some protein before and after the workout. BCAA's would be a good choice for this purpose.

  • C-CupC-Cup
    edited May 2016

    Thank you!  This is perfect.  Just the advice he was looking for.

    I am learning a lot about the different protein powders.  Especially collagen, whey, and now BCAAs.   Is there one that tastes good?  He is eating these bars that I make from sweet potatoes, eggs, protein powder and nut butter that seem to sit really well with him.  It seems to help the taste if I switch out half the protein powder for collagen, but I read on here yesterday that collagen is not a good muscle recovery protein.  So BCAAs will be next to try.  He tolerates the taste but the last batch that used the full amount of protein powder is being converted to expensive doggie treats.


    That said... Some of the BCAAs carry warnings to not use if under 18.  Is the BCAA found in Whey enough or will a BCAA specific powder be much more effective?  I also will print him off a list of good whole food sources of BCAAs so he can include some in every meal.

  • WalterWalter ✭✭✭
    edited May 2016

    True, collagen is not the best choice to build muscle because of its amino acid composition. It has other uses though, so don't throw it out. Whey is a good protein source around workouts. And yes there are many whey powders that taste great, will depend on personal preference of course. If you can afford it use whey from grass fed animals. Whey concentrate is usually recommended because its a less refined product.


    I would say yes whey is a fine source of BCAA's. Can't think of a reason why teenagers would be advised against taking BCAA's, but I suspect it has something to do with lawsuits. Nonetheless your son will do fine for the time being if his overall protein intake is adequate. Along the way he can optimize things and eventually take BCAA's around his workouts, it's a cheap and effective supplement.

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