A healthy diet and good eating habits are essential for a young athlete's development and performance.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and the most important nutrient for athletes. If athletes don’t eat a diet high in carbohydrates they will experience poor performance and chronic fatigue. Athletes that play stop-and-go sports, such as lacrosse, were found to fatigue slower and have better speed when eating a diet higher in carbohydrates. Consuming carbohydrates within 30 minutes after exercise and again after two hours can help muscles reload and rebuild quicker. Many nutritional specialists cite chocolate milk as an excellent source for this energy replenishment among younger athletes.
“What we take into our bodies is what we use for energy, and energy is what we need to perform on the athletic field.”
The Importance of Hydration
Did you know that 60-70% of the human body is made up of water? The body loses fluid through the skin as sweat, through the lungs while breathing, and through urination. Physical activity, heat, and humidity increase the amount of fluid your body needs to stay properly hydrated.
Easy At-Home Recipes
Looking for some easy-to-prepare meals that offer good nutritional value? Mary Ellen Kelly MS RD CSSD, a nutrition consultant, author and board certified sports dietitian, shares some suggestions to help keep athletes on the right path to proper nutrition. Included in the book are recipes for breakfast burritos, egg & avocado toast, egg muffins, roasted bruschetta chicken, simple stir fry, and veggie lover’s pizza.
The physical demands of practices and games are different from day to day and your diet should reflect these differences. The tips below have been designed as food guides for athletes to follow based on the physical demands of the day and season.
Protein for Young Athletes
You've probably heard how important protein is for athletes. But how much do you really need, when do you need it, and how is it actually helping you?