Pre-Game Meals: Why Nutrition Matters in Young Athletes

Strong bodies require the right nutrition and it’s critical for young athletes. It provides the fuel they need for long practices and intense games. While there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution when feeding a hungry athlete, a balanced diet is essential. Contrary to trends that eschew carbohydrates, they’re absolutely essential for athletes and the more vigorous the training and activity level, the greater the calorie intake requirements will be.

The best way to ensure youngsters are getting the right nutrition is to speak with a nutritionist or sports dietician and let them know the type of sport the child plays. He/she can provide guidelines and examples that will meet the athlete’s nutritional needs on and off the field.

Protein is important to build and repair every cell in the body. It builds muscles and bones, along with cartilage, blood and skin. Youngsters typically need .5 to 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight. They can obtain that through lean protein found in foods encompassing milk, eggs and yogurt, along with beans, chicken, fish, and nuts.

A healthy diet does more than supply the building blocks of the body; it actually helps them perform better and lowers an athlete’s risk of injury. Parents should also be aware that a young athlete may tend to want to eat and/or snack more depending upon how frequently and energetically they practice. Snacks should include healthy fats, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates.

As an overall strategy, young athletes should regularly include complex carbs from sources such as whole wheat bread or breakfast cereals, quinoa and brown rice, along with vegetables such as beans, sweet potatoes and squash. Don’t forget lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats, all of which are necessary for a healthy diet and one that will provide the energy required to practice and play hard.

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