Young athletes who are engaged in all-day competitions or strenuous endurance sports (like rowing, running, cycling, competitive swimming, etc) that can involve 1½ to 2 hours or more of activity at a time may require to consume more food to keep up with their increased energy demands. The best sports nutritionist for kids provides guidance on the kinds of different foods and drinks to include in child’s meals and snacks. Yet, the child athlete will have higher energy and fluid requirements.
It supplies energy for the body. Young athletes consume at least 50% of their total daily energy intake as carbohydrates. (Petrie, Stover, & Horswill, 2004). There is no requirement for “carb loading” (i.e., consuming a lot of carbohydrate in before a big game) but at the same time without carbs in your diet, you shall be running on empty. When you are choosing carbs, look for whole-grain foods like whole-wheat pasta or bread or cereal, brown rice, plenty of fruits and vegetables for lasting energy. Do keep sports drinks for an energy boost during endurance sports/training sessions lasting more than an hour.
Active bodies require protein to support growth and build and repair hard-working muscles and young athletes should spread protein foods throughout the day. Protein-rich foods include eggs, fish, lean meat and poultry, dairy products, beans, nuts, and soy products.
Vitamins and minerals:
Young athletes require a variety of vitamins and minerals. Calcium, iron, and zinc are three important minerals for young athletes-
Aids in building strong bones to resist breaking and stress fractures. Calcium-rich foods include low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese, paneer, leafy green vegetables, etc.
Aids in carrying oxygen to all different parts of the body that require it. Iron-rich foods include lean meats (such as chicken without skin, tuna, salmon), eggs, dried fruits, leafy green vegetables, and fortified whole grains.
Supports normal growth and development during childhood and it plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing. Zinc-rich foods include red meat, chicken, oysters, crab, lobster, beans, nuts, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products.
Good hydration should start early in the day before you even set foot on the playing field. Remain hydrated by consuming plenty of water during the days leading up to a game, esp. in the 2- 3 hours before game time. Do not stop drinking during the game (1/2 cup approx.every15 minutes interval) and afterward to rehydrate after sweat loss took place. Water should still be go-to-drink for exercise that is under 60 mins. Training sessions over an hour may need a sports drink to replace electrolytes lost through heavy sweating. In addition to water, fat-free and low-fat milk also are smart ways to help young athletes meet their fluid requirements. Just one cup of milk packs 15 to 24% of the protein most school-aged kids need in a day. It also provides important nutrients of which most young athletes do not get enough, such as calcium, which helps in building strong bones as well as potassium for fluid balance.
Use caution with fatty foods& timings of the meal:
Fatty foods slow digestion which is not ideal for an athlete facing a competition. Fried foods, greasy and fatty desserts are filling and may leave you feeling tired and sluggish. Instead, skip the fries or pizza before practice and keep fat content on the light side. Your body requires 2 to 3 hours to digest a regular meal such as breakfast or lunch before an athletic event while a small snack such as a granola bar can be eaten 30 mins to an hour in advance. Load up at meals but don’t binge and keep snacks light as you get closer to game time.
Consume a pre-game breakfast about three hours before the event. Sliced and lightly grilled potatoes combined with scrambled eggs and fruits such as berries along with calcium-fortified orange juice or fat-free milk are good examples for a nutritious pre-game meal.
Make sure you are hydrated before, during, and after practices and competitions. Studies from the best child nutritionist show that dehydration that goes beyond 2 % body weight loss troubles/harms exercise performance, so make sure you are well hydrated throughout the game with small amounts of water. Remind yourself to replace fluid losses after exercise with lots of water and look to foods such as bananas, potatoes, and fat-free or low-fat yogurt or milk as they comprise potassium and carbohydrates which are important to refill after exercise.
Post-practice or afternoon game snack:
Consuming both carbohydrates and protein at the same time after exercise can increase protein and glycogen synthesis. This can include sliced fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt mixes with nuts, smoothies, whole-wheat pasta with a low-fat tomato sauce.