Fueling Young Athletes
Athletes at all levels can attest to the fact that failing to plan, is planning to fail. Proper training and rest, as well as good nutrition and adequate hydration are essential to peak performance. For kids and teens, meals and snacks should complement an exercise program, while supporting growth and development.
- Protein rich foods, including lean meats, fish, nuts, and dairy, help build and repair muscles.
- Carbohydrates, including whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, brown rice, fruit, and starchy veggies, provide fuel and refill the “tank” after exercise.
- Eating a variety of foods from all food groups provides important vitamins and minerals fundamental to young athletes.
Supplements, pills, and potions are often touted to do any number of things to enhance performance. These claims are often unfounded and false and potentially dangerous. The fact is eating a variety of foods from all food groups; fruits, veggies, dairy, meat and carbohydrate rich foods, provides the nutrients kids need for a no-fail plan
Ready, Set, GO with Breakfast
A mix of carbs and protein at breakfast is the perfect fuel to start the day. And, selecting a meal that includes both may give the young athlete the fuel to keep going.
Super Star Snacks
Many kids fall short on getting adequate fruits, vegetables and dairy foods. Snacks can fill these nutritional gaps. The following are some simple snack ideas, that most kids can actually prepare:
- Apples & cheese
- Fruit cup topped with yogurt
- Pantry trail mix (cereal, dried fruit, pretzels… mix and match) and toss in some cheese cubes when ready to enjoy for a protein punch
- Peanut butter sandwich
- Whole grain granola bars
- Keeping a non perishable snack, like jerky or a dried fruit and nut trail mix, in the car or in the sports bag is a good strategy for ensuring healthy foods are available when hunger strikes.
- Water is the perfect hydration option for most young athletes.
- Be sure to drink water before, during (as tolerated), and after activities.
- Enjoy water-rich foods; grapes, melon, apples, celery, peaches.
- Limit or avoid caffeinated drinks.
- Adding a little squeeze of lemon or using a fruit infuser bottle to naturally flavor the water can result in better water intake.
Refuel Before Rest
Late night practices, homework, the need for “downtime”, can make mealtime frantic. But with a little preparation and help from Cabot, feeding the family a healthy meal is possible.