Nutrition is vital to victory! What you put in effects what you put out. Therefore, during National Nutrition Month, we’ve put together some tips and information that will help optimize performance.
Tip #1: Eat Three Meals Each Day
Meals provide the foundation of nutrients that the body needs throughout the day to perform, both on and off the field. It’s estimated that about 20 percent of kids (9-13 years) and 36 percent of teens (14-18 years) skip breakfast, a meal that revs up their metabolism. By doing this, these young adults are putting their body behind in the important nutrients that fuel performance. Additionally, they are increasing their risk of overeating later on and making unhealthy food choices.
It is imperative that children include all three meals in their daily eating plans.
Snacking is completely normal and totally acceptable! As long as it’s healthy snacking, that is.
Proper planning of snacks is just as important as proper meal planning, if not more, with the convenience of junk food, sweets, and other undesirable options available at stores and vending machines. Remember, for prime performance in The Zone, you need the proper fuel.
Some examples of healthy snacks include:
Cottage cheese – a single serving has 10 grams of protein!
. Hard-boiled eggs – easy to carry with you and quite filling
. Almond butter on whole grain crackers – Skip the vending machine. This is better for you than processed peanut butter nabs.
. Edamame – protein AND fiber
. Hummus on whole grain crackers
. Greek yogurt – lower in carbs than regular yogurt
Tip #3: Fuel the Recovery Phase
After intensive or extended exercise, the body’s muscles are broken down and tired. They need to recover. This can be accomplished with food, particularly food sources that contain a mixture of protein and carbohydrate.
Tip #4: Hydrate, Hydrate, HYDRATE
Dehydration can cause young athletes to feel more sluggish and fatigued than usual which is one reason drinking water and proper hydration is very important. Not only does it keep you hydrated and encourage elimination of toxins, drinking water can keep your body temperature from spiking during activity. Furthermore, water lubricates your joints.
Be sure your child drinks plenty of water before, during and after intense activity. Most young athletes need about 2-3 liters of fluid (from drinks, fruit, vegetables, soups, etc) each day. If your child is often dehydrated, consider adding coconut water or enriched waters to help them replenish lost electrolytes (without the excess sugar that many sports drinks contain).