Proper nutrition is important for the growth and development of normal children and teens. The importance of proper nutrition increases dramatically when it comes to children involved in sports or other physical activities. Good nutrition will help your little athlete feel more energetic and less tired, make them less prone to injury and disease, improve their strength and endurance and maintain a healthy weight. Therefore, it is essential for every parent to know that what sort of diet will provide their child athlete with the proper nutrition, when to eat certain nutritional foods, how to eat during a sports activity and when and what to recharge with after a sporting event. This blog post will provide you with information about nutrients and their classification and how much nutrients your young athletes need to intake, with respect to their age groups, so as to perform at their best.
Macronutrients And Why They are Important:
Carbohydrates are responsible for the provision of glucose that is essential for fulfill your child’s need for energy for sports and athletic purposes. The best sources of carbohydrates include milk, yogurt, ice cream, fruits, bread, rice, crackers, cereal, starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn etc.
Protein is an essential component for the proper growth and repairing of muscles, hair, nails and skin. Moreover, protein also play a vital role in maintaining glucose when body is subjected to prolonged period of physical activities. You can make sure that you little champs get proper amount of protein by ensuring that their diet involves meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans or nuts etc.
Fats are important because they help the body absorb vitamins A, D, E, K. Furthermore,fats work as backup source of energy and fuel your body when carbohydrates are not available. Avocados, cheese, dark chocolate, whole eggs, dairy products, olive and canola oils are some good sources of fat although, fat from chips, fried foods and baked goods should be avoided.
Important Micronutrients And Their Proper Consumption:
Calcium help strengthening bones and make them less prone to stress fractures. For any 4-8-year-old 1000 mg/day is the optimal quantity, while for 9-18-year-old 1300 mg/day will satisfy the calcium need. Milk is the major calcium source while other sources include yogurt, cheese, broccoli, spinach etc.
Vitamin D is essential for body because it helps the body absorb calcium. 600 IU/day is the appropriate consumption amount for any 4-18-year-old. Sun exposure is the best source of vitamin D.
Iron plays an important role in carrying oxygen to different parts of the body, your young athletes need iron for their healthy growth, increased amounts of blood and muscle. For any 9-13-year-old 8 mg/day iron would suffice while for 14-18-year-old boys up to 11 mg/day iron is necessary while for girls the requirement is 15 mg/day. Beans like pinto, kidney and soybeans, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, fortified breakfast cereals and enriched rice are the best source of iron.
Now that you have an idea of the nutrients required by your child athlete, you need to manage and plan their meals properly. For that very purpose we leave you here some tips that will prove to be very useful for you as a parent, looking after his child athlete’s needs.
- Before any sporting event;
- Meals consumed should include sources of carbohydrates, protein and fat.
- Fiber intake should be limited.
- Foods high in fat should be avoided because they can make you feel tired.
- Meal should be consumed at least 3 hours before any sporting event to allow digestion and to avoid stomach upset during the event.
- 1 to 2 hours before an early morning practice or event fluids should be ingested, and then a proper breakfast afterwards.
- Utilization of sports drinks and electrolytes to help keep energy levels high during an event.