As a young athlete, properly fueling your body before a game or competition is essential. Not only does a balanced diet increase energy levels, but it will keep young athletes performing their best.
Nutrition Needs of Young Athletes
Children or teenagers who are involved in vigorous sports need to eat the right amount of food at the right time to keep their competitive edge. These nutrition tips will ensure that every young athlete is fueled and hydrated for optimal health and performance.
Eat a Good Breakfast
Starting the day with a balanced meal will kick start that metabolism for the day ahead. We recommend an energy-packed and protein-filled breakfast that stimulates the muscles and brain. Try oatmeal made with low-fat milk, berries, and slivered almonds with eggs on the side for that protein punch. For adequate hydration, drink a large glass of water and continue hydrating throughout the day.
Don’t Skip Lunch
Young athletes tend to compete after school, making lunch an essential fuel source for game day. Incorporate whole grains, lean protein, vegetables, fruit, and low-fat dairy. A turkey and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, and apple slices on the side does the job. A hearty lunch will ensure the body has a significant amount of energy to perform at its best!
Avoid Certain Foods
Fried and fatty foods are more difficult for your body to breakdown and may leave you feeling tired and sluggish. In addition, avoid sugary and highly processed foods within three hours of your event. On game day, opt for whole foods for your meals and snacks. These nutrients will give you the energy needed to perform at your best. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich 1 ½ hours before practice or game will do the trick! Always remember; never try something new on game day!
Time Your Meals
When you eat is just as important as what you eat. Your body needs approximately three hours to digest a full meal prior to your game. However, a small snack can be consumed 30 minutes to an hour prior. Also, don’t forget that post-workout snack to replenish, repair, and rehydrate the body! Eight ounces of low-fat chocolate milk has the perfect carbohydrate to protein ratio needed for muscle recovery.
At Total Health Physical Medicine, we understand how important nutrition is young athletes to perform their best. If you would like a free, no-obligation consultation for our sports nutrition services in Florham Park, contact us today at 973-377-6327.