Nutrition for Athletic Kids
Many parents of athletic children are confused about their nutritional needs. The main question most parents with athletic kids ask is if athletic children have different nutritional needs for their sports and growth. Many parents are of the opinion that their athletic kids can simply follow the same nutritional recommendations for adult athletes.
The fact is that the nutritional needs for growing kids taking part in sports do differ from those of adult athletes and there are some nutritional concerns that differ from the nutrition required for adult athletes.
The three main concerns with respect to nutrition for all athletes are the time of consumption, refueling, and proper hydration. With children athletes this is no different.
Time of Consumption
Consuming food at the right time and at the right quantities ensures that the child have sufficient nutrients and energy to perform optimally in his or her event. Children athletes in particular are advised to eat several small regular meals per day instead of three large meals. In instances where six small meals are not possible, three meals plus three snacks instead of the three large meals is highly recommended. Regular meals or snacks between meals help to keep the energy levels sufficient for the required activity.
It is important to ensure that food, drinks, and snacks contain sufficient protein and carbohydrates. Athletic kids who prepare for a competition will benefit from the following rules concerning the pre event meal. Ensure that the meal for your athletic child contains enough fluid to keep up hydration and that it is high in carbohydrates for maintaining the blood glucose levels and energy. The meal should contain little fats and fiber moderate protein quantities. This ensures that there is no digestive stress. It is very important not to introduce foods or drinks your child is not familiar with. Keep to foods and drinks you know your child tolerates well.
The purpose of refueling is to replace the nutrients the body used during activity. The ideal is to enjoy a snack or meal within 30 minutes after activity. It is important to take note that refueling is not considered having a normal meal. Refueling means to prepare the body for optimal future activity. Some good examples of refueling foods are string cheese, fruit, yogurt, and crackers with some peanut butter.
Many people are of the misconception that hydration involves drinking plenty of fluids during activity. The fact is that athletic kids should hydrate their bodies right through the day to ensure that they are adequately hydrated once they start with their activity. Although sports drinks are ideal where lots of fluids are lost in long competitions of practices, the best way to hydrate the body is with water. This is a top priority as it relates to nutrition for athletic kids.
Apart from the time of consumption, hydration, and refueling, there are some important nutrients such as iron and calcium that are important for athletic kids. Iron is needed to prevent fatigue or decreasing performance due to a lack of oxygen in the blood. Calcium to prevent stress fractures because of calcium taken from the bones to suffice for muscle contraction. An age appropriate multi vitamin can help to ensure these nutrients are not lacked in any way.