Ten Nutrition Tips for Kids Playing Sports. 

This is the 2nd year that the LC is helping our local football association to safely help players lose weight to stay under Max weight requirements for their division. We love helping athletes  stay active and burn fat, however we don’t enjoy some of the practices we sometimes have to use when a specific athlete has too much to lose in too little time. Such things as: lessening water or fluid intake, starvation, extra fiber, and excessive cardio/sweat. We do lovingly call our time with these youth football players the LC Sweat Shop, however that can sound a little negative when a kid has 4 lbs to lose in 48 hours. There is no safe way to do that. If I could help parents in one way this would be it, make healthy eating a year round habit. If your kiddo plays sports keep them active even in the off season, so that their metabolism stays busy. I have complied a top 10 of nutrition tips to follow if your kids play sports. 

1.  Make sure your athlete drinks enough fluids.

  •   It is more likely for kids to suffer from a heat illness compared to adults, especially when playing in excessive heat.
  • Sports drinks help prevent fatigue and dehydration. Please remember that sports drinks should not be drunk at meals, and really should only be used when playing a sport for over  an hour, ie: football or soccer.
  • Create a drinking cycle for your kids.  Make sure they drink 5-9 ounces every 20 min. Getting them their own squeeze bottle will make this easy.
  • Weighing your athlete before and after exercise will help determine how much fluid they lost during activity. Then have them drink 24oz of a sports drink for every pound lost.

2.  Eating before a game or practice is important.

  • A good pre exercise meal helps prevent hunger and also gives energy to the working muscles.
  • Focus mainly on carbs, protein, fluids & good fats, the night before and 2 hours before the game. (Chicken, fish,  pasta with some veggies, whole grains, and fresh juices)

3. Be careful with supplements. 

  • Most supplements are not meant for kids, what is in the bottle may cause more bad than good. 
  • The FDA does not regulate the supplement industy well, there are no promises of what is truly in them.

4. Maximize muscle recovery.

  • Make sure your athlete eats a high protein snack or drink within 30 minutes of practice or gametime.
  • Within 2 hours make sure to have a meal high in carbs, and a medium amount of protein.

5.  Use carbs as an energy source.

  • Carbs are the number 1 energy source for exercise and is also great fuel for the brain.
  • Carbohydrates stores in the body are limited, kids must replenish carb (glycogen)  stores every day.
  • Great sources are: pasta, rice, milk, Greek yogurts, & veggies.

6. Protein is the building block!

  • Proteins primary role is buying muscle, fishing infection, and helps to send signals and can control tissue growth and maintenance. 
  • Don’t replace your carbs with too much protein, though. If you replace carbs with protein you can actually hurt your athletic performance. If you don’t have enough carbs an athlete will tire quickly and be unable to finish the game due to lack of energy. 
  • Great sources: meat, cheese, beans, legumes, poultry & fish.

7.  And by all means add some fat!

  • Good fats are necessary, a no fat diet can hurt your performance.
  • Fats in your diet is important to your diet and an excellent source of energy for kids.
  • Good fats: seeds, avocado, nut butters, olives, nuts- cashews, almonds, pecans are best-coconut oil

8. Keep mixing it up!

  • Kids need to be interested in their food, allow them fun choices.
  • If we eat the same foods every day we could start missing other nutrients needed.

9.  Our bodies are an engine, keep the tanks full!

  • Make sure we are providing healthy snacks for before and after activities.
  • Make sure you have good snacks on hand to avoid convenience stores and fast food traps. Granola bars, mixed nuts, peanut butter and crackers, energy bars, pretzels, fruits…make your own trail mix with your favorite nuts & dried fruits. (Most prepackaged trail mix is packed with high sodium and sugar coated fruits. Make your own)

 10.  Keep those kids energized! 

  • Balance is key for active kids. 50-55% of calories from carbs, 10-15% from protein and 25-30% from those good fats!
  • Make sure you use the tips we have talked about using fluids and food for natural energy, not giving kids caffeine beverages and extra sugary snacks for a quick spike. 

If we use these tips year round as a family  we allow our kids to safely have the energy needed and stay at a healthy weight to meet their sport of choice needs. Get the whole family involved so your child doesn’t feel left out while the family eats “yummy” food, and they eat the “diet” food. Make it fun and keep them interested, let’s try to avoid having to starve & dehydrate our kids just to at a sport. #laveenstrong