Proper nutrition should be part of training young athletes
Teaching young athletes about good nutrition should be as important
as teaching them the skills of the game.
"Sometimes coaches and parents overlook this important part
of the training process," said Becky Gorham, a registered dietitian
and research nutritionist at the CNRC. "It's up to parents
and coaches to learn and teach kids what is good for the body."
Knowing how much to feed young athletes, what to feed them, and
when to feed them is important. "Foods high in carbohydrates
will provide athletes with the energy their muscles need,"
said Gorham. High carbohydrate snacks are recommended to meet the
energy needs of young athletes.
Weight-bearing exercises can strengthen bones, but only if there
is enough calcium in the diet. "Young athletes should also
be encouraged to eat at least four servings a day of calcium-rich
foods like milk, cheese, and yogurts," said Gorham.
Few things hamper performance faster than dehydration. "Children
should drink three to eight ounces of water every 15 minutes of
practice to avoid dehydration," said Gorham. "Children
need to be taught, and reminded during workouts, to drink water
even when they are not thirsty, because thirst is not an accurate
measure of hydration."
Contrary to popular belief, vitamin supplements will not provide
a direct source of energy for young athletes. If the child is following
the guidelines from the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, vitamins are not
"Providing young athletes with healthy food choices is one
of the keys to helping them reach their full athletic potential,"
said Gorham. "'And in most cases, these healthy food choices
will stay with them for the rest of their lives."
Healthy high-carbohydrate snacks for young athletes:
- Whole-grain ready-to-eat cereal with low-fat or skim milk
- Low-fat fruit flavored yogurt
- Peanut butter on whole wheat toast and 1/2 apple
- Lean meat on pita bread with ½ cup orange juice
- Graham or animal crackers and a box of raisins
- Low-fat frozen yogurt and 100% grape juice
- Oatmeal raisin cookie and low fat milk
- Low-fat pudding Bagel and 100% apple juice
and Sports Nutrition
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