Nutrition tips for young athletes
Back-to-school means back to the courts and fields for student athletes. Reaching peak athletic performance doesn’t mean you have bulk up on carbohydrates or chug the latest sports and energy drinks. Student athletes have unique nutritional needs, requiring approximately 2,000 to 5,000 calories per day, depending on body composition, amount of exercise and other health factors.
Here are some tips for fueling your body for optimal strength and energy:
-Eat a variety of foods including protein, carbohydrates, fats, calcium, minerals and vitamins; lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and dairy for calcium provide a balanced diet
-Avoid supplements and steroids, which can have negative side effects on your health
-Avoid extreme diets. Youth athletes require the proper amount of nutrition and depriving your body of proper nutrients can cause decreased energy, muscle loss and sometimes, more serious health problems
-Hydrate with water; avoid caffeine and sugary drinks
Before practices and games:
-Be sure to eat a small, balanced meal approximately 2 to 4 hours before the event and include proteins and carbohydrates such as a turkey sandwich, or pasta and tomato sauce
-No time for a meal? Eat a light snack less than 2 hours before the event such as low-fiber fruits, crackers or yogurt
-Hydrate by drinking plenty of water before, during and after sports activities; avoid caffeine
Because body sizes and activity levels vary from person-to-person, you need to alter your diet to fit your individual needs. For more information, visit http://www.mypyramid.gov/ and create a personalized plan that works best for you.