Nutrition for young athletes is important for normal growth, development and performance enhancement.
Addressing healthy eating habits at an early age helps athletes develop better ways to manage their choices and stay on track for improved performance and normal growth and development.
The Children’s Sports Medicine Program offers nutrition services designed to assess the status of an athlete. This helps a sports dietitian develop an eating plan that will help an athlete meet performance goals.
Sports nutrition is not used to treat a specific medical condition, such as high cholesterol or diabetes. The eating plan and nutritional education for an athlete and his parents are tailored to incorporate all aspects of an athlete’s sport-specific demands.
Did You Know?
- Children have unique energy needs. Younger athletes often require more calories or specific nutrients to accommodate their growth than adolescent athletes do.
- Young athletes should drink 3 to 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes of practice to avoid dehydration.*
- Contrary to popular belief, vitamin supplements will not provide a direct source of energy for young athletes.
- Snacking is important for developing athletes. Eating immediately after training may be the most critical meal or snack for recovery, as well as growth and development.
- If your child has suffered from a sports injury and is out of practice for more than a week, then nutrition will play a key role in the recovery process. Any treatment or supplement that promises rapid recovery from injury should be viewed with caution.
- Even if a young athlete is trying to get stronger or gain weight for his sport, carbohydrates are more important than high intakes of protein.
- Only 36 percent of male and 13.5 percent of female athletes between the ages of 12 and 19 meet their daily calcium intake needs.**
A referral from a primary care physician (PCP) is not required before your child’s first sports nutrition consultation through our Sports Medicine Program. The initial consultation includes:
- Discussion of an athlete’s goals with a registered and licensed dietitian.
- Assessment of body composition, height and weight. These measurements will be used to track progress—including training and eating—and to make sure an athlete’s goals are realistic based on daily activity.
- Discussion about eating and how it relates to performance, meal timing and the importance of snacking.
- Development of an eating plan to help an athlete meet his performance goals.
- Screening for sports-related disordered eating behaviors.
- Nutrient timing
- Eating while injured
- Supplemental education
During the initial consultation, a Sports Medicine Program nutritionist may identify findings that will require a doctor’s referral. If so, you will be referred back to your PCP before further treatment can be prescribed.
Call Harold King, Manager, Community Outreach, at 404-785-7570 to make an appointment with a Sports Medicine Program dietitian.
*Gatorade Sports Science Institute.
**National Dairy Council.