Know how to provide sustained energy for your child
You might be surprised to know that even though children have smaller stomachs than adults, their energy and nutritional needs are much higher. This is because they grow fast and are more active. And once your child starts going to school, he will need sustained energy to keep him going through the day, rather than short energy bursts. Wondering which foods will help provide your kid with sustained energy? This article is here to help you out.
Why is sustained energy important?
Eating foods that provide only brief bursts of energy but have very less nutritive value cannot sustain the energy demands of growing children. Some examples are sugary treats and sweetened beverages like colas and sodas.
- Lack of proper, sustainable nutrition is the major cause of sluggishness and fatigue in toddler and pre-teens.
- Quality of nutrition is directly proportional to the performance ability and memory retention in kids.
- Children experience a major growth spurt during puberty, or around the age of ten in girls and twelve in boys. Their appetite too increases along with it. So, their bodies need more calories as well as macro and micronutrients.
What can provide sustained energy to school-going kids?
Time and again, it has been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For school-going children, breakfast is associated with better learning and superior academic performance too. It boosts alertness and concentration and fuels the kids throughout the day, thus preventing obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The combination of carbohydrates and proteins paves the way for an ideal breakfast. This is the key to sustained energy levels.
The combinations that can be given to children are cereals with fruit and yoghurt, whole grain toast smeared with peanut butter and fruit, and scrambled eggs. You can also give oats with milk and raisins, etc.
Only a good breakfast is not enough to get your child going throughout the day. Other well-balanced meals are a must too. A balance of simple carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, and honey, which gives immediate energy, and complex carbohydrates like whole grains and starchy vegetables that provide satiety, will enhance your child’s energy levels. Adolescents should get about 50% to 60% of their calories from complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates from candies, soft drinks and cookies act as high energy foods for kids, but for a short while. The energy level dips quickly too. Processed carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and white rice have very little carbohydrate and thus do not contribute to sustained energy levels.
In this regard, knowing about the glycaemic index is also important. This score is calculated for a food or a meal depending on the blood glucose response after consuming that particular meal. A high-fibre, low glycaemic index food will contribute to a lower glucose peak and cause a more sustained glucose release. Oatmeal and sprouts are low-GI, complex carbohydrates, that are rich in fibre. It takes a lot of time to digest these, and so, instead of giving your kids short bursts of energy, they sustain their energy levels throughout the day.
Choosing the right kinds of fat can give your child concentrated forms of energy. So, give them unsaturated fat like olive oil, nuts and seeds, instead of saturated fats and trans fats. Give your kids balanced proportions of polyunsaturated fats like vegetable oils, seafood and monounsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts and seeds. Eggs, almonds, cashews, yoghurt and a tablespoon of ghee are some sources of good fats.
Good sources of proteins like meat, fish, eggs, beans, nut, soy, and low-fat dairy products can help in regularising your kid’s energy level. When there is a lack of carbohydrates and fat in your child’s diet, protein fuels the body.
Dehydration is a major cause of low energy levels in most kids. According to nutritional recommendations, girls need 11 cups and boys need 16 cups of water daily. Hydrating after any kind of physical activity is also essential.
Caffeine found in tea, coffee, chocolates, soft drinks, etc. can give your kids energy in short bursts, but this energy doesn’t last. Caffeine can also affect your kid’s sleep routine. So instead of caffeine, hydrate them with plain water.
Apart from the factors discussed above, your kid's meal patterns can also contribute to his energy levels. Healthy but infrequent meals can cause fatigue, while large amounts of food can make your kid overweight and thus lethargic. Remember that each child is unique and has a different energy requirement. For some, three square meals in a day might be enough, and for others, frequent and smaller meals might be better. So, consult a nutritionist and make meal plans accordingly.