Feeding your Child Athlete

by admin | July 18, 2013 at 7:43 pm | comments

Have young athletes in your family? Feeding them requires knowledge and planning. Not only do they need optimal nutrition for fueling and recovery from training, but they must also meet the energy demands of growth and maturation. Help your kids to refuel with a focus on family mealtimes before and after practice and competition.

Pre-game Breakfast

Gather the family together for a pre-game breakfast. About three hours beforehand, have your athlete try sliced and roasted potatoes paired with scrambled eggs and nutrient dense carbohydrates like berries and orange juice or fat-free milk for the optimal pre-game meal.

During the Game/Practice

Make sure that your child keeps hydrated before, during and after practices and competitions. Dehydration that exceeds 2 percent body weight loss harms exercise performance, so make sure your child is well hydrated throughout the game with small amounts of fluid. Also, make sure to replace fluid losses after exercise by supplementing with extra liquids. You can also look to foods such as bananas, potatoes and fat-free or low-fat yogurt or milk, which contain potassium and carbohydrates which are important to replenish after exercise.

Post-Practice or Afternoon Game Snack

If you have more than one child in sports, the hours after practice or a weekday competition may necessitate snacking before the family dinner. When your kids arrive home hungry from a tough after-school practice or game have pre-prepared snacks ready, including cut-up fresh fruit, low fat yogurt and smoothies.

Post-game Family Dinner

For a tasty and filling post-game family dinner, include baked or broiled lean cuts of meat such as chicken breast, salmon or tuna. Also include whole grains, like whole wheat pasta with a low fat tomato or cheese sauce. Toss in some vegetables or include a side green salad.

Complete your meal with fruit for dessert, such as baked apples or pears accompanied by a glass of low-fat or fat-free milk. Or create an instant yogurt parfait with layers of low-fat vanilla yogurt; fresh, frozen or canned fruit; and crunchy whole-grain cereal.

Including all of the five food groups featured here, protein, grains, vegetables, fruit, and dairy, will give your family and inspiring athletes the nutrients they need for energy throughout the day.

This post was originally published on EatRight.org. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a member of the Together CountsTM program and Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation.