With the vague hint of spring in the air, many families are gearing up for the onslaught of practices and games that come with spring sports. As the kids strap on their pads and cleats again, keep in mind that a healthy athlete needs more than just good physical conditioning; fueling their bodies with proper nutrition is just as important to keep them competitive!
Nutrition is vital for the health of people of all ages and activity levels but young athletes have higher fluid and energy needs. Nutrition can also help prevent injury and keep your young athlete competitive. Help your young athlete become a nutrition champion before the starting buzzer even goes off!
For healthy bones, make sure your child is getting enough calcium and iron from foods like low-fat dairy products, leafy green vegetables (broccoli, spinach), lean meats (chicken, turkey), fish (tuna, salmon) and eggs.
To make the most out of a rigorous physical conditioning schedule, make sure your child also gets plenty of protein (meat, beans/legumes, nuts), which helps build and repair muscle.
Carbohydrates like whole grain bread, pastas and cereals, and fruit and veggies will keep their energy levels high.
Lastly, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Our bodies need water to maintain energy, coordination and strength so make sure your young athlete is drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after practice and games. Water (not sport drinks) are the best option so even if your athlete isn’t thirsty, make sure they are drinking every 15-20 minutes during physical activity.
Including good nutrition into your child’s training regime will make the most out of their time on the practice field (and your time chauffeuring!)
Of course, this advice is all well and good until you actually have to put it into play! So how do you go about making healthy snacks and meals for your young athletes? Join dietician, Ally Colson at Swedish/Issaquah on Wednesday, February 20th as she covers strategies for game-winning nutrition. This free event from 6:30-7:30 p.m. will include an interactive training on how to keep your child happy and healthy during sports season. Take the time to help your young athlete train and care for their body and set them up for success on and off the field.