Young athlete nutrition is often overlooked by student athletes and their parents. With the proper nutrition your body will preform better and heal faster.
It’s GAME DAY! What should your growing, developing athlete be eating? Before a practice? After a game? After an injury?
To put it simply, your body requires the right kind of energy to be STRONG and POWERFUL on game day, and to RECOVER properly afterwards.
What To Eat And Why
CARBOHYDRATES POWER your brain and become easily accessible ENERGY for your cells to burn! Whole grains like oat, quinoa, brown rice, and barley provide long lasting power and are great for dinner the night before, or a pre-game breakfast. Carbs that are high in STARCH can provide instantly useable calories that will help regulate blood sugar during a game. Carrots, squash, and potatoes make a great lunch or snack choice several hours before playing.
PROTEIN REPAIRS muscle and tissues AFTER a physical challenge or injury. Protein bars are NOT meals and do not replace a balanced diet. Most of us get more than enough protein in our daily diet and have little need for supplemental shakes and bars. Excess protein gets stored as fat in the body and can even lead to chronic dehydration! Eggs, nuts, chickpeas, and lean meats are great sources of proteins with healthy fats that won’t leave you feeling sluggish before you play! Aim for a daily ½ gram of protein per pound of (ideal) body weight, with serving sizes about the size of your palm. Increase proteins the day after strenuous activity and while recovering from an injury.
FATS are especially important in the DEVELOPMENT of your muscles, skeleton, and brain during the formative teenage years. Avocados, eggs, nuts, fish, and vinaigrette style dressings can provide unsaturated, healthy fats that will be easier to digest on a game day.
ADD more VEGETABLES to your general diet and pre-game meals. They contain essential vitamins and keep you hydrated. FRUIT is a fantastic post game recovery snack to replenish energy stores and electrolytes, which aid in preventing muscle soreness, twitching, and tension.
5) Hydration Is Key
DRINK WATER ALL DAY LONG, and maximize your intake 2-3 hours before practice. Avoid chugging down over 8 oz right before being active, and avoid overly cold water during, or immediately after, working out. Drink half of your body weight in fluid oz of water per day.
100 lb child= 50oz of water= 3 to 4, 16 oz bottles = 48 to 64 oz. Round up to support your active teen!
What Not To Eat
AVOID eating fats n proteins less than 3 hours before activity. They have a much longer digestion time and won’t sit well while your on the court. AVOID processed foods, sugary foods, sweetened drinks, caffeine BEFORE games and practice. YOUR BODY NEEDS REAL FOOD!!
Dieting And Weight Loss
DIETING FOR WEIGHT LOSS can be significantly detrimental to the maturation of your child. The ONLY HEALTHY way to approach weight loss during adolescence is by teaching your children about healthier relationships with food and exercise. NEVER limit your child’s carbohydrate intake or “count CALORIES” according to dieting trends designed for fully developed adults. INSTEAD, start by increasing the amount of healthy prepared vegetables and whole ingredients consumed regularly, and eliminating processed food products from the child’s life.
A note about IRON, menstruating females may experience fatigue, mental fog, or even anemia if they are low on iron consumption. Increase leaner cuts of red meat, mushrooms, green beans,and leafy greens, along with VITAMIN C supplementation, to supplement monthly iron loss. Routine blood work should be conducted if you believe your child may be iron deficient.