A guide to sports nutrition and what pack in your child’s sports kit
All parents know that sufficient and balanced nutrition is necessary for the growth of their kids. However, physically active children or those who participate in some form of sport need extra nutrition for additional energy, stamina and strength. The right nutrients can help build muscle mass, improve endurance, give your child agility and keep him or her mentally alert too.
While all kids need healthy, well-balanced meals, the diet for sporty kids needs to be special. This is because they are subjected to a rigorous exercise regime. A good diet will also help them achieve their maximum potential and perform better on the field. A child athlete will also need constant hydration as it is easy to lose fluids and important electrolytes through sweat. They need to consume more energy-rich foods to meet their strenuous physical demands. The right amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals are essential for such children.
Essential nutritional requirements of a child or teenage athlete
- Carbohydrates: For a teenage athlete, meal plans must include proper energy sources. Some people might advise kids to steer away from carbohydrates, but remember that kids and pre-teens need carbohydrates for energy. It however doesn’t mean that they have to overindulge. But, regular and adequate quantities are required, or else they might run out of steam during a game. Also, choosing the right kinds of carbs is crucial, like whole-grain pasta, bread and cereals, brown rice, fruits and vegetables.
- Protein: Protein is vital for the building and repairing of cells, and a balanced diet can provide it adequately. But make sure that your kids does not consume too much of protein, as it might cause dehydration and loss of calcium from the bones. Lean meats, poultry, eggs, fish, beans, lentils, and soy are great sources of proteins.
- Vitamins and minerals: Sports nutrition for adolescent athletes is not complete without vitamins and minerals, and especially calcium and iron. Calcium helps build a stronger bone structure and protects against stress and fractures. Green leafy veggies like broccoli and spinach, yogurt, dairy, and cheese are good sources of the same. Iron is needed too, as it transports oxygen to various parts of the body. Meats, eggs, fruits, green vegetables, nuts and dry fruits are all iron-rich foods.
What are the foods that kids and pre-teens should pack in their bags when going for a sporting event?
If your child is travelling to attend any sporting event, it can be a tiresome experience. However, if he or she is well-equipped with certain foods in the backpack or sports kit, you don’t have to worry about them feeling lethargic, hungry or sluggish. Here is a list of some foods that your child should carry for the best performance:
- Bananas: Bananas are a great source of potassium, simple carbohydrates and natural sugars. Eating a banana before a game is a great way to load up on energy, boost the glycogen level, and improve blood sugar level.
- Apples: Eating an apple with a little peanut butter is not only tasty, but it is also a great source of quick energy and stamina.
- Eggs: Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse and a great source of high-quality protein and amino acids. Protein is important for muscle building and repair, and is the perfect food before any sporting event.
- Homemade protein bars: These super handy bars are just what anyone needs for a quick supply of protein and energy just before any sporting event. Use some healthy carbs like whole grains to make these, and your kid will be happy to snack on them.
- Whole-grain bread: This is a wonderful source of complex carbs, and combining it with some protein source can give your child sufficient energy for the whole game. You can make wholesome sandwiches with whole-grain bread slices, leafy veggies like lettuce or spinach, or other colourful veggies like carrots, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Use peanut butter as the spread as it is a healthy source of energy.
Homemade protein bar recipe
- Vanilla protein powder : ½ cup
- Cinnamon : 1 tsp
- Oats : 1 cup
- Coconut oil, edible : 2 tbsp
- Almond butter : ½ cup
- Honey : 1/4th cup
- Vanilla essence : ½ tsp
- Sea salt : a pinch
- Put the protein powder, oats, and cinnamon in a food processor and blend until the oats turn powdery.
- Melt the coconut oil and add it to the mix. Add the almond butter, honey, and vanilla essence. Blend the ingredients well.
- Create a ball out of the mixture using your hands. If the mixture seems too dry, add some water and process once again.
- Place the ball of mixture on butter paper and press with a spatula, spreading it out evenly.
- Sprinkle some sea salt on it.
- Freeze the same for around 30 minutes and then cut into bars and store them in your refrigerator.
To achieve peak performance during a competition, your child needs to eat in a nutritious manner. Kids should carry healthy and balanced foods along with them rather than relying on junk foods like fries, burgers and pizzas. Pack water bottles in their kits too so that they don’t rely on carbonated beverages.