6 Nutritional Tips For Youth Athletes

youth sports
Young northern european boys playing a indoors soccer training match inside an indoor sports arena.

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 What your Child Should be Eating on Game Day

 

   Before sending your child off to play their game, there are definitely some nutritional tips to consider. Nothing worse than the coach yelling at your kid to hustle, only to find out that he or she only had a doughnut for breakfast. Ouch, my bad! So I thought I would share some tips to help give your child the best advantage.

 

1. Make sure your child drinks enough fluids

Children have special fluid needs. Compared to adults, kids are more likely to suffer a heat illness when exercising in the heat.
Give your kids a sports drink to prevent fatigue and dehydration. Studies show that lightly sweetened, flavored, non-carbonated beverages such as sports drinks do a better job than water of preventing dehydration.

2.Optimize muscle recovery

Help young muscles recover fast – have children eat and/or drink a high protein snack within 30 minutes after exercise
Eat a high carbohydrate, moderate protein meal 1-2 hours later to continue with muscle recovery.

3.Remember pre-exercise meals

A pre-exercise meal is important to prevent hunger and to supply energy to athletes’ working muscles.
The night before competition and 2 hours before exercise: focus on carbs, moderate protein, low-fat foods and fluids (pasta with veggies and chicken, fruit, milk, cereal, yogurt, toast, juice).

4.Target carbohydrates for energy

Carbohydrates are the main energy source for exercise and the major fuel for the brain.
Carbohydrates stores (glycogen) in the body are limited kids must replenish carbohydrate stores every day.
Top food sources: pasta, rice, breads, milk, yogurt, cereals, fruits and vegetables. For a list of high carbohydrate foods, click here.

5.Don’t forget some fat

A high-fat diet is not healthy – but neither is a zero-fat diet.
Having some fat in the diet is important for health and is a key energy source for young athletes.

6.Keep kids’ fuel tanks filled

In addition to healthy meals, provide healthy snacks before and after exercise.
Pack high-carbohydrate, moderate protein, low-fat snacks such as granola bars, energy bars, pretzels, trail mix, fruit, peanut butter and crackers, bagels, and fluids.

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