Sporty teens need more energy along with a balanced diet that is high in healthy carbohydrates and protein to fuel their active life. Find out more about the diet they need to follow and healthy habits to incorporate to meet their goals.
Healthy eating is crucial for sporty teenagers to maintain their active lifestyle and optimise their athletic performance. A balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, and plenty of hydration is key. Carbohydrates should make up about half of their total calorie intake as they provide the main source of energy for intense physical activity. Adequate protein is important for building and repairing muscle tissue, and it can be found in lean meats, poultry, fish, dairy products, beans, and lentils. Healthy fats such as unsaturated oils, nuts, and seeds provide essential fatty acids and help absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamins and minerals, particularly iron and calcium, are important for healthy bones and to support athletic performance. Developing a teenage athlete meal plan according to individual nutritional needs is recommended for proper results.
Balanced nutrition is essential for teenagers and adolescent children to fuel their growth and development, considering these are their formative years. The need further increases when these teens actively participate in sports or athletic activities. Food choices for sporty and athletic teenagers have to be competent to provide their bodies with proper nutrition so they can give their best on the grounds without hampering their lifestyle.
Since the energy requirements of sporty teens are always on the higher side, nutrition for teenage athletes warrants proper care and attention. Their protein requirement may be double that of others depending on their age, size, sex, weight, etc. In such a case, following a regular diet plan will augment their athletic performances and fuel overall growth and development.
What do teens need so they have enough energy for sports?
The teenage athlete meal plan must contain adequate amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, known as macronutrients, to supply their body with constant energy. They also need to keep their body hydrated. This calls for healthy eating for teenage athletes, and the best way to achieve this is to never skip a meal. They must have their breakfast, lunch, and dinner on time as well as nutritious snacks to support their training schedule and replenish their energy tanks.
Apart from the macronutrients, a few other things must be part of the teenage athlete meal plan weekly, such as micronutrients and fluids. Micronutrients are essential to intensify the recovery process and elevate their performance levels, and fluids to replenish the water lost through sweating so as to prevent cramps, exhaustion, and heat stroke.
However, vitamins and minerals, including calcium and iron, are especially important for sporty teenagers to power their games for the long haul. Why the special mention? Here are the reasons.
Calcium is necessary for athletic teenagers to keep their bones strong and protect them from stress fractures. Teenagers may combine calcium-rich foods such as low-fat dairy products and strength training to get the best results.
Iron, meanwhile, has a more far-reaching impact on adolescents as it supplies them with energy, supports their overall growth, and strengthens their immune systems. It also transports oxygen to the muscles. Lean meat, poultry, fish, and leafy vegetables are all great sources of iron.
Healthy eating for teenage athletes
As mentioned earlier, healthy eating for teenage athletes is essential to support their lifestyle; for that, they need to wisely plan their meals. Here are a few points that need attention while considering the diet plan for teenage football players, among other athletes:
- Proper calorie intake to support their active lifestyle and overall development
- Carbohydrates to provide them with energy
- Protein to keep them full for a long time and help their muscles to repair and grow after a hardcore training session
- Fat to maintain their energy requirements and ensure the solubility of specific vitamins
- Vitamins and minerals to maintain their health and promote the development of the body, including bones and brain
- Fluids to keep them hydrated
- Fibre to maintain gut health
The best part is that many food items can fulfil all their macronutrient needs. Here are some examples of healthy snacks for teenage athletes:
Beans are high in protein, fibre, and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and iron, making them an excellent option for nutrition for teenage athletes. They can stir fry or roast the beans and add them to salads, burritos, noodles, soups, pasta, etc.
- Milk and milk products
Dairy milk is naturally pumped with calcium, protein, and potassium and fortified with vitamin D. Milk can help teenage athletes meet their daily calorie and nutritional needs. Plant-based milk can also serve the purpose if they are fortified with necessary nutrients.
Yoghurt is not only a good protein source but is also rich in vitamin D, calcium, and potassium. Besides taking care of their energy requirement and bones, yoghurt, being rich in probiotics, facilitates a better digestive system and absorption of micronutrients. Cheese contains protein, potassium, and calcium. So, including it in healthy snacks for teenage athletes makes snacking delectable and nutritious.
- Fruits and Vegetables Dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale, etc., are rich in iron and calcium. Iron absorption can be maximised when paired with food high in vitamin C such as tomatoes and citrus fruits. Vegetables and fruits are also good sources of potassium and various vitamins.
- Nuts and seeds
A tasty snack, nuts are powerhouses of various nutrients such as protein, fibre, healthy fats, vitamin E, and magnesium that can help teenage athletes keep the show running. They can either have a handful or sprinkle them over yoghurt, cereals, or smoothie bowls. Like nuts, seeds contain healthy fats, vitamin E, magnesium, and fibre. Also, they are a great way to enhance the taste of regular snacks or dishes.
Unhealthy behaviours to watch out for:
Sports are a healthy way to help teenagers learn discipline and good habits. They also help them understand their body better and the need for proper nutrition. However, high protein foods for teenage athletes sometimes fail to meet the impractical demands of their bodies, including gaining muscles in no time, etc. Such times often lead to unhealthy behaviours as teens may become erratic in search of quicker results. Some of them are:
- Excessive dieting or skipping meals
- Obsessing about body weight or looks
- Making dietary decisions by themselves without any consultation
- Cutting down on meat or other sources of protein without first seeking advice
- Letting peer pressure mess up things inside their heads and setting impractical goals such as getting in proper shape in five days.
- Sporty girls miss out on menstrual cycles for three or more months due to inadequate food to meet their energy requirements. If not properly addressed, it may lead to adverse health conditions.
- Not eating enough food that is high in iron and calcium and not maintaining enough fluid intake to supply the body with electrolytes.
- Not making vitamin C-rich food a part of their diets. This may hamper the body’s ability to absorb iron.
- Avoiding healthy snacks for teenage athletes.
Having the right food in the formative years of their lives can create a whole world of difference for teenage athletes. That is why they need proper guidance for selecting their diets; without the right nutrition, their growth may be hindered, just like their training process.
A balanced diet, however, will keep them packed with the energy needed to prepare their bodies for tough times and hone their skills. They can also include chicken veggies oats momo, carrot cheese and flax seeds sandwich, apple dates oats smoothie, mixed dal, and coconut milk fish bisque soup in their diet.