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How to Get Taller: 7 Tips for a Healthy Growth Spurt

Learn how to get taller as a teen with my 7 tips for optimal teenage development and growth.

Teens want to know how to grow taller. They want to know how to spark a growth spurt.

Because this question comes up so often, I wrote one of my most popular blog posts to help teens and their parents understand what happens during the teenage growth spurt.

As a childhood nutrition expert, these are some of the questions I get from teenagers all over the world.

Will my teen grow more?

How do you get a growth spurt?

Are there foods that help you grow taller?

What age do girls stop growing?

What age do boys stop growing?

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • what the growth spurt is all about
  • when you can expect it to happen
  • when it will likely stop
  • and how to support it
How to grow as a teen

I will cover the following ways you can optimally support the teen growth spurt:

  1. Get enough sleep
  2. Eat plenty of nutritious food
  3. Get enough protein, but not too much
  4. Focus on calcium and vitamin D
  5. Build healthy eating patterns
  6. Reign in snacking
  7. Promote physical activity

What is the Growth Spurt?

The growth spurt is a period of time when growth is accelerated (happening faster than usual).

Typically, we see this happen during infancy and adolescence.

During the growth spurt, hormones, including growth hormone, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone and others, promote this rapid pace of growth.

It results in more height growth and weight gain than any other time of childhood.

When Do Teenage Growth Spurts Happen?

For girls, the growth spurt begins during puberty, around age 10, and the onset of menses occurs around age 12 1/2 years.

Boys start puberty about 2 years later than girls, around age 12 to 13 years.

Let’s Dive Into the Growth Spurt in Boys

Boys tend to see their biggest growth spurt between ages 14 and 16 years, however this is a general age range.

It really depends on when you start puberty, as some boys will go through early puberty and others will be late bloomers, which will shift the age of peak growth.

When Do Boys Stop Growing?

So how long does puberty last for boys?

Most boys will reach their peak height by 18 years, and tend to be done growing by then.

Some boys grow until their early twenties.

That’s why we have standard growth charts up until age 20!

I’ve got more details about this in my article, When Do Boys Stop Growing?

how to grow as a teen: 7 tips to support the teenage growth spurt

Is My Child an Early or Late Bloomer?

Some kids are late bloomers, experiencing the growth spurt late in the teen years, and even into college.

I just saw a picture of my friend’s son who is a rising junior in college, and it is clear he’s added some inches in the past year.

Other kids are early bloomers and will be done growing by age twelve or fourteen.

For boys, the taller ones in class who look more like men than boys in the early years of high school may be early bloomers.

For girls, the ones who get their periods early fall into this category, generally.

Height Predictor for Boys and Girls

There’s really no formula or equation to predict exactly how tall a teen will turn out to be once he or she has completed the growth spurt.

It’s a mysterious process for teens, but everyone goes through it, at one point or another.

However, we do have a rough estimate calculation that will give you an idea of how tall your teenager will be.

Final height largely rests on genetics (how tall mom and dad are, as well as the influence of distant relatives, perhaps).

The day-to-day environment including the teen’s typical diet, nutrients consumed, sleep and exercise habits also play a role in overall growth.

Although you can’t predict the future, you can certainly help set your child up for a healthy, optimized growth spurt by paying attention to a few things.

Final teenage height relies on genetics plus the daily environs such as food and sleep. #growthspurt Click To Tweet

How Can I Trigger a Growth Spurt at 18?

Once the growth spurt has occurred and height growth begins to slow, the end of this heightened period of growing is coming to a close.

If a teen is a late bloomer, it’s possible to grow beyond age 18.

Follow the tips below if this is the case.

Also, check the growth chart and talk with a physician to see where you’re at in your growth trajectory.

What Will a Growth Chart Tell Me?

A teenager’s growth chart gives you insight on how he or she is tracking on the height curve; you can make a generalized prediction of final height based on it.

For example, if a teen is growing along the 90 percentile for height, and that’s been his course throughout childhood, you can extrapolate that he will end up at the 90 percentile at 18 years, which translates to about 6’2” or 6’3”.

But the reality is, kids don’t always follow their growth channel, particularly when they hit puberty.

Listen to the podcast: Children’s Growth 101

My oldest daughter is an example of this.

She always tracked on the growth chart to be 5’2” based on her growth channel along the 10 percentile for height.

She’s a young adult now, and ended up growing to a height of 5’5”.

So things may change.

You can use the Height Predictor for Boys and Girls below to get an estimate, but please realize it’s just an estimate.

You can compare the results with your growth chart from the pediatrician.

Predicting height is not set in stone.

Lifestyle, nutrition and other factors still have a strong influence in the outcome.

Predict your teen's height

How to Grow Taller! 7 Ways to Help Teens Grow in Healthy Ways

I’m often asked about how to get a growth spurt going strong.

It’s a lot more than eating healthy food.

Here are 7 important ways to help your teen grow to his or her full potential.

1. Get Enough Sleep

All teens need at least 8 ½ to 9 hours of sleep per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

During sleep, growth hormone circulates at its peak, helping your teen’s body grow.

In fact, studies have shown that if sleep is delayed, the release of growth hormone is also delayed, potentially reducing the overall exposure of the body to growth hormone.

However, during puberty, the teen’s circadian rhythm changes and leads to a shift in his or her sleep-wake cycle.

This makes it challenging for teens to get enough sleep.

They go to bed late, and can’t get up early.

Unfortunately, with the rest of the world operating on an early sleep-wake cycle, teens can get behind and miss out on sleep, which may affect their growth.

Teens get taller at different ages during adolescence.

2. Eat Plenty of Nutritious Food

Obviously, I am going to sing the praises of good nutrition!

Teens are notorious for getting off course with nutrition, eating more fast food, processed food and sweets.

This is in part related to ages and stages — or specifically, their developmental stage — and budding independence.

However, good—no, great– nutrition is essential to optimal growth.

Remember, during the growth spurt of puberty, calorie and nutrient requirements are at one of their highest points during the entire life span.

You want to make sure the food going into your teen’s body is mostly healthy stuff.

Foods that Make You Taller and Grow

There aren’t any magical foods that help you grow, however, there are some important considerations:

1. Choose Foods with Protein:

Protein contains the building blocks for all muscle, organs, bones and other tissues that grow and develop during the growth spurt.

Make sure to eat: eggs; milk and dairy products like yogurt and cheese; meats like beef and poultry; fish; nuts and nut butters; beans; and protein-rich grains like quinoa.

2. Look for Foods with Calcium and vitamin D:

Calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone growth. Obviously, the long bones (arms and legs) are growing quite a bit during the growth spurt.

Be sure to eat: milk and fortified dairy products; fish and mushrooms (vitamin D); green vegetables (spinach and broccoli)

Read: The Ultimate List of Calcium-Rich Foods for Kids

3. Don’t Forget Foods with Healthy Fats:

Healthy fats provide concentrated calories that also assist with brain development and functioning.

Include more: avocado, olives and olive oil, nuts, seeds, fatty fish

4. Foods with Iron:

Iron is important during the growth spurt, as the blood is expanding and girls have additional iron losses with menstruation.

Focus on iron foods like: dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach; beef; dark meat poultry; beans; and raisins

Does Milk Make You Taller?

Milk is a powerhouse of nutrients, including those important for growth like protein, and the bone growing nutrients of calcium and vitamin D.

Keeping milk in your diet is a good (and easy) way to ensure you’re getting these important nutrients.

Caution: Be Careful about Eating Too Many Sweets and Treats

Watch out for too many nutrient-poor foods like sweets and treats.

They can add a lot of calories but few nutrients like iron and calcium.

One way to do this is to use my simple rule called the 90:10 Rule.

It separates food into categories, keeping the “growing” foods (nutrient-rich food groups as outlined by the USDA) at a level of 90% of overall consumption, while curtailing the less than healthy items such as sweets and treats to a mere 10% of total intake.

This is not a hard and fast rule about food, but a way for parents and teens to visualize the food balance that will best support overall health and growth.

7 Ways to Support Teenage Growth

3. Get Enough Protein…But Not Too Much

Of all the major nutrients, protein is the most important one for growth.

This is not to say your teen needs to pig out on protein—but you do want to serve up real sources of protein in your teen’s diet (not the supplement stuff) such as eggs, meat, fish, poultry, nuts, nut butters, seeds, and more.

Most teens in their growth spurt need at least a ½ gram of protein per pound of body weight.

More than 1 gram per pound of body weight doesn’t seem to make a difference in growth and may be associated with dehydration.

Read: 8 High Protein Breakfasts for Teens

4. Focus on Calcium and vitamin D

The growth of the bones, particularly the long bones in the legs and arms, show up in your child’s height.

Calcium and vitamin D are the bone-forming nutrients and set teens up for a lifetime of healthy, strong bones.

Unfortunately, many teens do not get enough calcium or vitamin D in their diet, particularly during puberty!

You can ameliorate this by paying attention to sources of calcium and vitamin D in the diet.

From milk products to leafy green veggies, there are a lot of options from which to choose.

Both calcium and vitamin D work together to solidify your child’s bones so they are healthy and strong.

My calcium e-book can help you pick the right food sources and target enough throughout the growth spurt.

5. Build Healthy Eating Patterns

Teens may have eating patterns that can get in the way of good nutrition.

Skipping meals, for one, is pretty common, and this can lead to too much hunger and overeating.

All teens should try to eat three meals per day without skipping—even a light meal, such as a smoothie or a banana is better than skipping altogether.

Ideally, spread out your teen’s food intake evenly throughout the day, timing meals in a rhythmic way, every 3 to 5 hours.

What Stunts Your Growth?

Under-eating both calories and nutrients can rob your body of what it needs to grow optimally.

Also, not getting enough protein in your diet is tied to poor linear (height) growth.

This is something to pay attention to if you’re a vegetarian, have an eating disorder, or are very picky.

6. Reign in Snacking

Because teens may eat erratically, they often make up for skipped meals or delayed eating with snacking.

This can lead to undesirable food choices, and even overeating.

I ask all my teen clients to be thoughtful and strategic with snack choices.

To give you an idea of what I classify as “healthy snacks,” check out my list of 85…that’s a list of snacks that will last you over 12 weeks!

85 Healthy Snack Ideas for Teens

Grab 85 Healthy Snacks for Teens below!

    If your teen is underweight or a slow weight gainer, start offering a healthy bedtime snack.

    It can provide a few extra calories that won’t be burned off by the day’s activities.

    7. Promote Physical Activity

    I’ve heard some pretty crazy statements, like “basketball makes you grow taller because jumping helps stretch the body…”

    Personally, I haven’t seen any evidence or research of this, but I have heard the {tall} tales. 😉

    I do think activity helps, in general, because it keeps the body’s engine (metabolism) humming along, and supports a good appetite…which can spur {healthy} eating.

    So, if you’re wondering how to grow as a teen in a healthful way, start focusing on these 7 tips.

    Focus on one of these things for a week, and tell me how it goes…I can’t wait to hear!

    Does Testosterone Make You Taller?

    During puberty, yes, testosterone helps with growing taller. However, once you’ve reached your full height, additional testosterone likely won’t change how tall you are or spur additional growth.

    Does Losing Weight Make You Taller?

    Losing weight itself doesn’t actually make you taller, but it can give the appearance that you’ve grown because you may look leaner.

    Foods that Make You Taller

    In theory, all foods can make you taller, mostly due to the energy they provide. But protein, especially, has been linked to improved linear growth, according to a 2022 study in Nutrients that looked at nutrition and its effects on height growth.

    This is because the amino acids found in protein foods promote overall growth, especially height.

    We know that when children don’t get enough calories, macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, protein) or micronutrients, they don’t grow well. Although we don’t see this commonly in the U.S., studies in under-developed countries highlight the importance of nutrition on growth.

    Protein and amino acids are the main nutrients involved in height growth. They promote tissue growth and increase the levels of hormones that prompt the growth spurt.

    Zinc has been hypothesized as a stimulator of growth. When it’s deficient, growth may be impaired. However, studies looking at zinc supplementation in children with growth failure have been inconclusive.

    Vitamin D supplementation has not been shown to affect linear growth, however, when paired with calcium supplementation, it has prompted height growth in adolescent boys.

    Vitamin A has also been the topic of research. It shows a positive influence on linear growth in children over age two.

    Last, a multi-micronutrient supplement approach, like a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, rather than a single nutrient, seems to have better results for children and teens when it comes to growing taller.

    Need More Help Feeding Your Teen?

    Tune into my podcast, The Nourished Child, where you can find free information about teen nutrition and feeding them.

    Read 10 Foods Young Athletes Should Eat and 8 High Protein Breakfasts for the Teenager.

    Be sure to visit our store for additional resources, and check out our podcast episodes!

    WHY AM I NOT GROWING? | 4 BARRIERS to GOOD GROWTH in Teenagers (That are EASY to FIX!)

    This article was updated on April 26, 2023.

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