T Nation

What Would You Teach 6-12th Graders?


I'm rearranging my nutrition lessons for my 6th-12th grade class. What are the top 10 things you would place importance in teaching nutrition to 6th-12th graders.

Considerations should include: fiber, protein, carbs, fats, water intake, vitamins, minerals, what a calorie is, etc etc etc

I've taught the same lesson for the last 3 years and would like to get some different opinions to see if I'm missing something that should be added in.


Energetic values of food
Importance of exercise in body composition/recomposition (eating protein doesn't = huge person, etc)

There's 5, that probably covers most of it. Could probably throw in "healthy food choices", "antioxidants", "essential nutrients" as well if you wanted to. Not quite sure how long you have, what you're trying to actually teach, etc...


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


Basics are basics and I don't really see the need to change much for the lower grades, except maybe to specifically address junk foods, and the importance of limiting them (not necessarily avoiding them like the plague, depending on your take on it.)

With the high schoolers, 9-12th, I'd consider branching out to issues related to nutrition:

  • A basic intro to supplements (since there's a good chance any student-athletes are taking protein, maybe creatine, and possibly considering other stuff.) You could cover how to prioritize supplements so that they serve as a... supplement... to already solid training and nutrition, and how to avoid crappy supps.

  • The role of exercise (weight training, cardio, sport specific) and how nutrition can effect performance and results. You could bring up "Tons of exercise plus zero calories doesn't make you lose weight" or "Just because athletes burn more calories doesn't mean they should be fueled by Snickers bars".

  • Eating disorders. A heavy topic (wow, no pun intended), but one that should probably be addressed. The Figure Athlete site had a great general article addressing the issue.

I think it's definitely one issue that younger girls and guys should learn about, whether they're athletes or not.


Rule number 1: EAT real food/


Having recently been in that age group, try and convince them that "taking protein" won't make them fat. Most people I know that age don't understand calories in and calories out.


Cover the importance of quality fat sources such as Omega 3's, monounsaturated fats, etc.

Cover basics of glycemic index and complex vs. simple carbohydrates.

Might have a basic class on Keto/Atkins diets, or just a week long inrto to them.

Another topic would cover hormone regulation through diet, insulin, cortisol, leptin, gluconeogenisis, glucagon, etc.

These might be more advanced topics I'm not sure, but 10-12th graders should be able to get a pretty good handle on this stuff.


I'd probably explain how insulin is a shuttle for nutrients etc. And what spikes insulin, the value of keeping insulin levels steady throughout the day along with the value of strategically spiking it.

I personally didn't know that in highschool, and I think it would have helped me alot back then.


get the macro's of some of the popular food chains around your area and show them how shitty the food is compared to alternative foods.

show them that a big mac and large fries is over 1000calories and explain what that means in terms of health and body composition.


Not in any particular order, but macros, micros, a very basic look at endocrinology, water intake, and the interaction of physical activity with proper diet.

I don't know how it could be ordered, but talking about common goals, i.e. increased strength, decreased bf%, increased hypertrophy and common, sensible ways to go about them.


You're right. I did tweak the lesson slightly from the feedback I got before. I just thought I'd throw it out there again...I guess you shouldn't mess with the basics though


trans fats...explain to them what they are, why they are horrible for you, and how you can spot them on ingredients lists. The amount of trans fats in kids twinkies, cakes, cookies, peanut butter, etc. that would be wise.


most people here don't understand calories in/calories out so I'm not surprised.


Yer. Teach them about good fats and bad fats. Also give the kiddies an idea of what to eat for afternoon snacks. I remember when I was that age and when i got home from school i used to smash the pantry, going for the chocolate first


I don'tknow if this would be applicable to the younger kids, but maybe the older ones.... I work with high school kids, so of course I get steroid questions. The best answer I have found, is to explain that at their current age, their natural hormone levels are ideal to get big and muscular, and that 'older' people take steroids in an attempt to recreate the environement that they have right now.

So instead of thinking sterods will help, they should be taking advantage of their natural situtation and eating right and busting their ass in the gym. (then I throw in some stuff about how playing with their hormones now will lower their naural output later on -lol)



This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.