When playing a sport, you need to make sure that you have the necessary equipment. You can’t play a game or in a tournament without wearing specific gear.
But how do you up your game and become the best player on the field? By changing what you put into your body. You don’t have to swallow a shin guard but you should start eating healthy food loaded with the right nutrients. Putting the right stuff into your body will help you become a better athlete.
Pro athletes understand this! As a matter of fact, most professional athletes and teams hire nutritionists and dieticians to help them determine the best foods.
But, kid athletes certainly cannot hire their own dietician, can they? So, here’s how a kid athlete can use nutrition for their own advantage!
Covering the Basics
All kids need to include various types of healthy foods in their diet— and kid athletes are no exception. Everyone needs foods that include:
- Vitamins found in veggies and fruits
- Minerals such as calcium found in dairy products
- Carbohydrates found in whole grains, veggies and fruits
- Protein found in nuts, beans, eggs, seafood, poultry, and meat
- Healthy fats found in butter, oil, nuts, cheese, and meats
Kid Athletes Shouldn’t Go on Strict Diets
In general, it is not healthy for kids to go on a strict diet in order to gain or lose weight. Teammates or coaches who encourage kid athletes to do this is offering a bad advice.
Some sports emphasize small or large body size, however, kids can play sports such as football or gymnastics without doing extreme diets of gaining or losing weight. As a matter of fact, kids are still growing, so it is important to let their body grow to the ideal height and strict diets can jeopardize this if not healthy.
Some diet strategies like a high-protein diet with protein supplements may cause serious problems such as kidney damage. Also, going on a fast, eliminating a particular food group and skipping meals can also be harmful to kids.
Instead, a balanced meal and snacks can give a growing and active body the nutrition it needs. In order to make sure that an athlete kid consumes the necessary nutrients, creating soups or smoothies with the soup and smoothie makers can go a long way to nurturing a kid athlete from the inside.
Iron and Calcium
These are the two most important nutrients for a kid athlete. Calcium helps build strong bones that will not break under strain and stress of heavy activity. Iron, on the other hand, keeps kid athletes energized for their training and games.
Don’t Forget the Liquids
Athletes need water, before, after and during before exercise or a game. When we sweat, we lose water through the skin. Sweating keeps us cool, however, when we lose too much water, we could easily become dehydrated.
Being dehydrated means that you will not perform or feel well. Serious dehydration can even make you sick.
The best way to stay hydrated is to drink after, during and before your game or training. Do not wait until you are thirsty.
The best beverage choice will always be water, whether it be still or sparkling, both are great. You probably didn’t know but there are many health benefits of sparkling water that shouldn’t be overlooked. Kids can also opt for fruit juice mixed with water for a refreshing drink. Try to avoid sugary drinks like sodas, especially caffeinated ones.
When Practicing or During a Competition
When it is time to play or practice, you will get the energy from the foods you eat. Eat meals at least 2 to 4 hours before the game or training. Playing on a full stomach can cause you to have less energy since the body will use more energy digesting the food.
The best meals before the game include protein and carbs for energy, but make sure whatever you eat is low in fibre and fat to stop it from slowing down digestion.
Bringing a snack is also ideal, especially for long competitions and practices. A small handful of nuts, dried or fresh fruit or half a sandwich are great snacks. Energy bars are convenient, however, you can get the same energy from healthy foods.
Also, avoid the sugary stuff such as candy bars and sodas before competing or practising. It provides a little energy boost but drains your energy fast, making you feel tired.