Before a young athlete steps onto the field, court or mat, he needs to make sure his body is ready for competition. The type of food a young athlete eats can affect how well and how long he can compete. Foods high in fat and drinks high in sugar can slow any young athlete down. But a proper nutrition plan can make sure he has enough energy to keep playing until the final buzzer.
Creating a Nutrition Plan
There are a lot of things to consider when creating a nutrition plan for a young athlete. Each athlete is different and their needs vary depending on sport, size, age and gender. But there are a few parts of a healthy diet that every athlete needs. They include:
The proteins in the food we eat are broken down into amino acids. The body produces 11 of the 20 essential amino acids, so the other nine must be consumed through food. These amino acids are used to repair and build the muscles that are broken down during exercise.
|Good sources of protein include:
Nuts or seeds
An athlete’s body uses carbohydrates to make glucose, which gives him the energy to keep playing. Glucose can be used immediately or stored.
|Good sources of carbohydrates include:
Healthy fats, like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, help store energy in the body. They also help vitamins move through the bloodstream.
Good sources of healthy fats include:
Hydration is also an important part of any young athlete’s diet. He should be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids—and the right fluids—throughout the day. It is especially important to drink fluids (water or sports drinks like Powerade or Gatorade) before, during and after a game or practice.