5 Tips to Help Your Child Athlete Fuel Up for Exercise
Energy Food for the Child Athlete
Children need to understand that their body is like an engine, one that needs the right fuel to run properly. Healthy carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and grains (like whole grain breads, crackers, cereals or pasta) are the body’s preferred source of fuel. They help to not only sustain exercise, but are needed afterwards to help replenish body stores.
The body also needs healthy lean proteins from foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, milk, yogurt, eggs and soybeans. These help build and repair muscles after exercising. And small amounts of healthy fats from foods like avocados or nuts help meet calorie needs.
- Before games or practice, kids need to ‘top off the tank’ with some carbohydrates to provide energy. Give them something easy to digest like a smoothie, a carton of yogurt or a small bowl of cereal and milk. Keep meals low in fat so they’ll be easy to digest.
- During exercise, keeping kids hydrated is vital. Water is fine, but a hydration drink is great for extended exercise or when the weather is particularly hot or humid.
- After exercise, it’s important to refuel muscles with some beneficial carbohydrates and protein. Chocolate milk is an all-time favorite recovery food, since it provides fluid, potassium, carbohydrates and protein—all of which the body craves after activity. Other great post-exercise foods are sandwiches, fruits, yogurt and smoothies.
- Kids need fiber, but it’s best to offer high-fiber foods after exercise to avoid stomach upset. Save the whole grain breads and pastas for after the game.
- For those kids with high calorie needs, you can offer higher calorie foods that are also nutrient-rich like nuts, 100% fruit juices, dried fruits, peanut butter and trail mix.
Written by Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training https://discovergoodnutrition.com/2016/06/child-athlete-fuel/
share this blog: